NANGA 2020



Taking the first step
The outdoors re no longer just for adventurers

There have been several waves of outdoor trends in Japan that could be considered as social phenomena.
The first wave came with motorization during the period of rapid economic growth.
As more roads were constructed, and people began to own their own cars aside from those used for business, the outdoor leisure of auto camping quickly became widespread.

The second wave occurred during Japan's bubble economy period.
People ventured out not only into the city but also to the great outdoors, and outdoor activities were no longer just for adventurers.
It was around this time that Cosmos Ltd., the predecessor of NANGA, was founded.

In 1985, a G5 meeting was held at the Plaza Hotel in New York where the Plaza Accord was concluded.
The day after the announcement, the yen appreciated sharply against the dollar. The exchange rate, which had been 240 yen to the US dollar, appreciated 120 yen to the dollar a year later.
In order to avoid the effects of the stronger yen, the Japanese economy moved its production bases to parts of Asia where labor is cheaper, promoting overseas production to avoid trade friction.
Tomoyuki Yokota, the president of the company, recalls, "We began to make sleeping bags in 1988. Before making sleeping bags, we were processing futon at a factory that had been in operation since my grandfather's generation."

In the past, Maibara City was a major producer of cotton futon, boasting a 30% share of the national market.
However, major futon manufacturers were not willing to risk going against the flow of the times and moved their production bases overseas. As a result, much of the domestic subcontract work diminished.

"We were a small factory, but we still had employees. Then, there is my father, who was suffering from the need to somehow protect employment in the region. I was just a child at the time, but I knew firsthand that the factory was in trouble."

In order to protect his family, employees, the factory, and local employment, he was contracted by a major Japanese outdoor brand to sew sleeping bags. Sleeping bags were one of the most important gears for the outdoor lifestyle, which was showing a trend.
He took the first step that led to the birth of NANGA.

Unknowingly polishing a diamond in the rough
Receiving repair requests from consumers

The company began to sew sleeping bags in 1988, but by 1990, it had become a factory that almost exclusively took on the processing of sleeping bags for major Japanese outdoor brands.
However, even the second wave of the outdoor trend could not stop the outflow of manufacturing from Japan to overseas.
After the burst of the bubble economy, the major outdoor brands transferred their domestic production bases to the Asian continent, and sales plummeted.

"The business continued to deteriorate. Needless to say, the second president and his business partner, who was in charge of sales at the time, often had conflicting opinions. As a result, they parted company and my father established Yokota Cosmos Co. Ltd. However, we had no sales expertise nor clients. Even so, things were not all bad. Outdoor brands no longer had a production base in Japan, so they couldn't provide sewing repairs domestically. That's why we started to receive repair requests directly from users."

This was a phase in the outdoor trend when the bubble had already burst, so people weren't just buying brand new products.
Instead of buying new products, more and more users would try to repair them.
The factory was busy repairing sleeping bags day in and day out.
This course of events was the origin––a diamond in the rough––of what would later lead to the permanent warranty service for NANGA's products.

For the improvement of quality
The fervent ambition we discovered from Kawada Feather Co., Ltd.

My father and former president of the company went through a difficult time due to the overseas transfer of the brand's production in addition to the conflicts he had with his business partner. Because of these experiences, he had maintained a rebellious spirit against being abandoned and continued to push forward.
Moreover, to protect his employees, he made the decision to keep the business in the same location and insisted on domestic production.

"On the other hand, as the number of repair requests increased, we began to consider manufacturing sleeping bags under our own brand."

In starting up our own manufacturing, the first thing we paid attention to was the down filling.
Down inspection standards were not yet in place in the 1990s, and it was difficult to determine whether the quality of the down was up to par.
Furthermore, we lacked strong connections with down suppliers for sleeping bags, so we decided to look for a new domestic down supplier.
That's when we met Kawada Feather Co. Ltd.
Upon our visit to Kawada Feather, we learned that it had already established its own down testing criteria in addition to the usual inspection standards. The company was thoroughly committed to quality control even back then.
The fervent ambition that Kawada Feather exerted was an essential element for NANGA to improve its quality as a manufacturer of its own brand.
The visit to Kawada Feather deepened our understanding of down, and the business relationship began.

"The birth of NANGA
Cooperating to overcoming a difficult path"

With the outflow of manufacturing industries overseas, we were at the mercy of the waves of time. We made the decision to launch our own brand, maintaining our ideology of continuing the production in Japan.
The company was renamed NANGA INC.
In order to maintain domestic production, the products had to be concentrated in the mid to high price range.
Without any business clients, the company was forced to start from nothing, and there were many obstacles to overcome along the difficult journey.
The name of the company, which also serves as the brand name, is inspired by Nanga Parbat of the Himalayas. Nicknamed the "Killer Mountain", it is the ninth highest mountain in the world and one of the most challenging to conquer.
The name embodies the company's determination to overcome any difficulties together with our employees.

"I joined the company in 2001. My father told me that I was free to choose my own path, but as the eldest son, I had the intention to take over the family business from an early stage. With that in mind, I felt it was important for me to join the company with sales experience and know-how, which NANGA lacked at the time. So I studied sales at a completely different type of business, and after two years of top sales performance, I came to work at NANGA."
The first assignment given to Tomoyuki Yokota, who would later become president, was none other than to go mountain climbing.
"The day I joined the company, my father, the president, assigned me to go to the mountains. After spending two months in the mountains, I was given a sales position."

On the other hand, Keizo Yokota, the current managing director, clearly stated that he would not work for his father; in other words, he would not take over the family business.
After graduating from university, Keizo worked as a canoe instructor.
When his father, the second president of the company, eventually began to withdraw from the field, Keizo joined NANGA, saying, "If my brother can teach me the ropes, I'd like to work with him."

Giving everything a try.
Expanding through the domestic market and out onto the global platform

Our corporate philosophy is based on the legacy of a challenging spirit that has been passed down from generation to generation since our founding.
In 2002, NANGA began prototyping the first down jacket.
After days and nights of researching sewing techniques of garments and through repeated trial and error, the first Aurora down jacket was completed the following year.
In 2003, NANGA received a large order from an American outdoor brand to manufacture down jackets and down vests on an OEM basis.
"We had just started manufacturing apparel, and we had never received such a large order before. We fell behind on our delivery schedule and suffered a loss as a result."
Tomoyuki entrusted the sleeping bag business to his younger brother Keizo, upon his entry into the company, and Tomoyuki concentrated on the apparel business.
In 2009, the company's sales reached 300 million yen, and Tomoyuki became the third president, while Keizo became the managing director.

"My grandfather founded the company and set up the factory. Then, my father established the company as an outdoor brand, which became recognized on a national scale. When I became the third president, I decided to expand the business overseas once the sales exceeded one billion yen."

It was in 2017 that the company surpassed the medium-term sales goal of one billion yen set by the third president.
In July of that year, the company exhibited at Outdoor Retailer (OR), one of the world's largest international outdoor sports trade shows, held in Utah. After the brand's first-ever trade show appearance at OR, we commenced our overseas business.
NANGA developed the Mountain Belay Coat, the warmest cold-weather coat in the history of the brand, to brave even the extreme cold of Alaska.
The brand also began its advance sales in the U.S. of the pocketable Aerial Down Parka, which can be conveniently packed for travel.
Thus began a new challenge toward a rugged path.

"Environmental protection.
A responsibility that companies must assume."

Since our establishment, the company had remained consistent in committing ourselves to domestic production to strengthen its brand value. However, we have finally made the decision to start overseas production.

"One of the main reasons was our vision of becoming a comprehensive outdoor manufacturer. Many manufacturers have moved their production bases overseas, and the number of sewing factories in Japan is decreasing. Given the current situation, it has become increasingly difficult to secure additional sewing staff in Japan. In order to accommodate the orders from retailers, we shifted the production of existing low-priced products overseas, and limited domestic production to high-priced products."

Alongside the decision to manufacture in parallel domestically and overseas, the company also ensured the procurement of high-quality materials to meet NANGA's specifications.

"We set up a system together with Kawada Feathers to exclusively obtain Spanish down. Compared to France and Poland, Spain doesn't have such a long history in the down and feather industry, but we were interested in the fact that they have the most updated facilities. I went to Spain for an inspection and found that the waterfowl were being raised freely and comfortably in a spacious and hygienic environment. The flesh of the waterfowl becomes meat, and every bit of it is used without any piece to discard. Therefore, in Spain, waterfowl are raised for a long time to improve the quality of their meat. This also has benefits for the down feathers. When the meat quality is improved, the down feathers become more durable, resilient, and lofty."

In 2019, the company established its own logistics base, the Nanga Nagaoka Logistic Center (NNLC), to further strengthen our overseas expansion, which began in 2017.
We will never stop evolving.
But what will never change is the permanent warranty service for our sleeping bags.