Takao Fujimoto





Find out little-known yet interesting facts about clothing through the words of discerning designers who have been creating
essential masterpieces for BEAMS PLUS collections.
The crucial new philosophy of BEAMS PLUS,
“Updating timeless classics for the future,” cannot be achieved without their wealth of knowledge.


Takao Fujimoto (Bag designer of STANDARD SUPPLY)Born in Nagasaki in 1965, Fujimoto longed for American culture during his boyhood. After moving to Tokyo, he worked for a major bag manufacturer and pursued his career as the chief designer in the men’s section. He then became an independent designer in 2004 and started to work with renowned bag brands both in domestic and international markets. In 2006, he established evergreen works before launching ARTS&CRAFTS brand in the same year. Fujimoto began a new brand, STANDARD SUPPLY, in 2014 to offer clean and simple products that are made to last. With his 34 years of experience in the industry, he keeps designing various types of products from small leather goods to a huge carry bag.

Backpacks are one of
the essential tools of life
that have altered the shape in
accordance with 
material improvements.

The original product featured 
a wooden frame and a canvas bag,
though the fundamental structure 
remains the same.

“As far as I know, the history of backpacks in America began from this pack board made by TRAPPER NELSON’S. They perhaps improved Native American’s tool into a handier product as the tag says ‘INDIAN PACK BORAD’. I think the item was originally made to carry hunting game. I think the product with a wooden frame featuring a canvas bag became the origin of a backpack. You can see traces of wire-like pins on the lower part of the product.”

“KELTY launched their first aluminum frame bag in 1952 by updating this primitive bag. Although the fundamental structure remained the same, the usage of modern material altered the overall design as the original wooden frame and canvas fabric were replaced by an aluminum frame and nylon cloth respectively. Various other brands also made their own external frame packs around that time. In the 1970s, KELTY designed a compact two-tiered backpack with zippers. It was just the right size to stow minimum clothes and food for a day trip. After the product became closely tied with the backpacker culture and the hippie movement of the time, frame-less backpacks had been updated with increasing demands on non-professional outdoor gear for hiking and other activities.”

KELTY’s aluminum frame bag (left) and 
a pack board from TRAPPER NELSON’S (right).

European sophisticated 
design attracted me 
while GREGORY packs were 
beyond my reach.

“Having said that, many hippies still used big backpacks with aluminum frames to seclude themselves in the mountains. From the end of the 1970s to the 1980s, however, backpacks with external frames gradually disappeared from the market because inner-frame designs made the product much lighter. I was around 20 in the mid-1980s and still vividly remember MILLET’s red inner-frame backpack I bought at Green Life Sports (closed in 2011) in Kanda around that time. Carrying the backpack, I used to go camping and visit my family in Kyushu by local trains with a youth rail pass. Though duffel bags and barrel bags might be more popular as a large travelling bag at that time, I often visit stores like A&F in Shin-okubo, Sakaiya Sports in Jinbocho and some retailers in Ueno to look for a backpack as a hippie and outdoor admirer.”

An external frame bag made by 
THE NORTH FACE in the 1970s.

“I had been a fan of POPEYE magazine since my junior high school days. American culture I learned through the magazine and the U.S. base in my hometown made a pretty big impact on me. But I do remember that International Gallery BEAMS mainly carried European design clothes during the time when I moved to Tokyo and had a part-time job at a restaurant located in now-defunct Central Apartment in Harajuku. In such a way, aesthetic tastes of different time periods had inspired me to establish my own creative originality. And I think that is why the slightly Americanized yet sophisticated design of the French brand MILLET fascinated me so much.”

“PORTER’s Gripper backpack I encountered in 1985 made me aspire to be a bag designer. The item was officially launched slightly earlier than that. I read a POPEYE magazine article saying that the brand had proudly exhibited the piece at the Designer’s Collective show in New York in 1981. By that time, I didn’t even know that there is such a job as a bag designer. Products from GREGORY was another big influence in my life, though the brand was too prestigious for me at the time. The design of their Mission Pack that converts from a normal backpack to a briefcase made a great impact on me as well as their Day Pack. Their concept, ‘Great packs should be worn, not carried,’ and the words of A&F chairman Takao Akatsu to describe the brand’s backpacks - ‘the Rolls-Royce of backpacks’ - also touched my chord. Because their products were way too pricey for young people, however, students of the time rather went for backpacks from OUTDOOR PRODUCTS and JANSPORT.”

To be more popularized, the design of backpacks became simpler with zip closures.
The one in the front is GREGORY’s Mission Pack.

There were always French-made bags 
behind my life-changing decisions.

“When I was employed by a company in the 1990s, the Japanese fashion and creative industries enthusiastically followed French aesthetics. Shortly after agnes b. and SAINT JAMES gained great popularity across Japan, Herve Chapeller became in high favor, too. Because I often traveled to European countries for business around that time, my friends used to ask me to bring back the brand’s products for them. The bags from the brand were, however, not so popular in those countries that retailers often hung them at the eaves, though the brand later opened a flagship store in Paris. I remember that the enthusiasm gap between Japan and Euro countries gave me a big surprise. Despite such a trend, American-made simple backpacks of OUTDOOR PRODUCTS remained as one of my favorites and later inspired me to create STANDARD SUPPLY. For some period of time since the establishment of ARTS&CRAFTS, I stuck to making bags by using machines, techniques and sewing methods for clothes making with help from an apparel manufacturer in Okayama. When a textile company in Kojima, Okayama, showed me 60/40 cloth, I came up with an idea to make a simple backpack with the material. I thought the fabric that is thicker and more flexible than nylon might match our brand image as it contains natural fiber. However, because the popularity of vegetable dyed distressed canvas fabric showed no sign of abating at that time, I newly launched STANDARD SUPPLY in 2014 to introduce the simple backpack as the iconic item of the brand.”

always been pursuing.

“Looking back the history of backpacks, we realize that the product has altered its appearance according to the change of our lifestyle since the product was first invented as an everyday tool. We, too, update backpacks we designed for STANDARD SUPPLY every season by, for example, changing the zip design or adding pull rings and extra reinforcements. Since cashless payment methods were introduced, smaller bags like a musette bag have been a trend in Japan because we no longer need to bring many things with us to go out. But the top-selling bag of STANDARD SUPPLY is in a larger size that can fit A4 documents and files. I guess that’s because city commuters need to stow their business documents and laptops in their backpacks. There are now so many design options for backpacks to choose from. Although the prevailing design has long been in teardrop shapes, the contents often get creases in the corners. My solution for this problem is to make square-shaped backpacks, but I think I still have plenty of work to do to make the design more attractive and acceptable. My will as a bag designer has always been to design innovative bags with materials and styles that align with the trends of the times.”

Item Info.


* The item above is scheduled to arrive in store 
in the middle of March, 2020.

Shop Info.

The products shown in this article are
available at BEAMS PLUS stores.