ITOCHU Announces Enhanced Branding Strategy for Outdoor Products in the Retail Sector

December 4, 2023

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it has signed new agreements with its existing partners in Japan and Korea for its owned brand, Outdoor Products. In Japan, ITOCHU has signed a licensing agreement for the brand's apparel products and an exclusive contract for the brand's stores with Baycrew’s Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; Shigeru Sugimura, CEO; hereinafter “Baycrew’s”). Simultaneously, in Korea, ITOCHU has underwritten convertible bonds of Wonderplace Company Limited (headquartered in Seoul, Korea; Younghan Kim, Chairman & CEO; hereinafter “Wonderplace”). This strategic move will further strengthen the brand's presence in the retail sector by partnering with leading partners in Japan and Korea, two major fashion trendsetters in Asia,  enhancing the brand value on the occasion of the brand's 50th anniversary.

Outdoor Products was established as an outdoor brand in Los Angeles, USA, in 1973. Renowned for its Cordura® nylon fabric, the iconic model 452, a synonym for daypacks, quickly became a go-to option with its simple, lightweight and durable design, capturing the hearts of young individuals across the country. Today, the brand is popular in more than 60 countries around the world as a total lifestyle brand that encompasses a wide range of daily essentials beyond bags, including casual wear, underwear, shoes, watches and stationery.

In November 2012, ITOCHU acquired the trademark for Outdoor Products in 19 regions, including Japan, Korea and China. Currently we have expanded the trademark to 33 regions, including 18 in Asia, with its marketing efforts primarily focused on Japan and other Asian countries. As the brand celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, ITOCHU is strategically expanding its business platform in Asia, foreseeing the region's continued growth. Initiatives include a capital and business tie-up with PPW Sports & Entertainment (HK) Limited in the Chinese market and the launch of the brand in the Bangladeshi market.

In Japan, ITOCHU has signed a new licensing agreement for the brand's apparel products and an exclusive contract for sales and the operation of the brands stores with Baycrew’s, a leading select shop. Welcoming Shintaro Someya, founder of select shop Shinzone, to lead in the establishment of a comprehensive direction of apparel products and brand stores, Outdoor Products is driven by its timeless theme, "products for everyday life which would be appreciated by the enthusiasts for the outdoor recreations," which has remained unchanged for 50 years. This serves as its guiding keywords as it pursues collections of apparel products and daily essentials that are simple and basic, providing support for people in their daily lives. Starting in the spring/summer 2024 season, the brand will begin opening stores, mainly in station buildings and shopping malls, in addition to its flagship store, targeting the fashion-conscious segment.

In Korea, ITOCHU has underwritten convertible bonds of Wonderplace, a casual fashion retailer established in 2011. Wonderplace operates approximately 60 select shops in Korea and has been the master licensee for Outdoor Products in the Korean market since 2017, managing around 20 brand stores. It will continue to invest aggressively in store openings and marketing for Outdoor Products.

In expanding Outdoor Products, ITOCHU aims to promote its business growth in Asia, including Japan and Korea, by strengthening branding in the retail sector in these fashion-forward markets. The Company aspires to achieve a retail sales target of 50 billion yen within the next five years.