How did one brand’s handcrafted leather totes quickly become a style phenomenon in Tokyo while remaining a novel sight in Paris and New York (usually on Japanese tourists)? We posed this question to Jas Shembi, owner of London-based leather goods company Jas M.B., whose success in Japan is on par with better-known global brands although his trendsetting bags only sell quietly at retailers including L’Eclaireur in Paris, Barneys New York, and Maxfields in Los Angeles. The designer is just as baffled as we are and can only chalk up his huge success to the first adopting ways of the style obsessed Japanese, but that’s all about to change. The company is gearing up to capitalize on their nearly three years of success in Japan with the opening last month of a London store, Doors by Jas M.B (8 Ganton St. W1), where for the first time customers will be able to immerse themselves in the full Jas M.B. experience. Shembi hopes that his impeccably crafted men’s and women’s bags will prove as popular in Shoreditch as in Shibuyaku. The label has always trumpeted a distressed chic, and an authentic and luxurious aesthetic, and Doors pays homage to this (lasting) style sense. Cracked white leather walls, restored Americana cabinets, customized furniture patched together from contrasting leather bits, and rough hewn wooden shelves serve as the backdrop for Jas M.B.’s increasing collection of leather goods (pony skin traveler bags, buttery leather satchels, for-students-only canvas and leather totes) and pieces from Rust and Muse, two complementary jewelry lines that bear a handcrafted signature. A formula sure to win converts in the Western Hemisphere. Inquire about their loyalty concepts; they’ve come up with some clever ways to keep customers coming back.
Photos: Jas M.B Fall ’04 bags