The strong scent of worked leather is immediate. You walk down the stairs into the shop, and are immediately struck by the multitude of leather bags, row after row of them, arranged on the tables. There is a Classic-style influence to the store design, with a wonderful combination of wood and leather, as well as country music filling the room.
But the store’s most arresting feature is its unorthodox layout. The leather workshop where the leather goods of Herz Omotesando are made is open to the store. You can stop and watch the leatherworkers, cutting and sewing as they practice their craft. Every Herz store (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sendai) is laid out in this fashion, so that all the customers can see the production process for themselves and smell the leathery atmosphere. This link between the shop and the workshop, where the freshly finished leather products are then placed for sale, lends credibility to the items in the store.
Herz is a Japan-based upscale leather goods company that made a name for themselves with their finely-crafted leather bags. Designer Kondo Akimasa founded Herz in 1973, naming the company after the German word for “heart” (herz), as he wanted to create “products with heart.” And there’s no doubt that Herz certainly puts a lot of passion and heart into their leather products.
Herz Omotesando has twenty leatherworkers, and each leather bag is handmade solely by one craftsman in the Tokyo store. This is a fundamental principle of Herz, as it ensures each bag has its own characteristics and qualities backed with the pride of the local craftsman who created the product.
There are no chief designers for Herz Omotesando. All the craftsmen are encouraged to create new products and bag designs. The open environment of the store is reflected in the working environment, where craftsmen brainstorm among themselves and come up with new innovative ideas. Due to this design-friendly approach, Herz currently offers over 600 bag designs, and new designs are always in development. By being located in the center of Tokyo, the craftsmen can absorb and reflect new trends as inspiration for their ever-evolving products.
Although expensive, it’s easy to see the value a customer gets for their money from a Herz Omotesando bag. Herz bags are strong and durable, constructed from thick and sturdy Italian leather and sewn with thick thread. The bags have a smart and casual look and are good for any occasion. Herz Omotesando also makes an exclusive randoseru (Japanese school bag) for students. All bags sold by Herz have an aftercare policy in which they may be brought back to the store (even decades after they were sold) to be repaired.
Herz always has a wide range of bags on display, but special orders can be accommodated. Some of the in-store staff can speak English, but ordering online is difficult as English is not supported and there is no overseas shipping. With no division-of-labor system and an aversion to outsourcing production, the delivery times for built-to-order bags take 7-8 weeks. All of these factors make it difficult for short-term visitors and tourists to order a customized bag, but don’t worry! Herz Omotesando makes excellent products, and one of the handsomely-made bags on their tables will catch your eye. Visit them during your trip to Tokyo, you won’t be disappointed!
Herz Omotesando Location Information
Nearest Station: 7-minute walk from Omotesando Station
Hours of Operation: 11:00AM-7:00PM. Closed on Wednesdays.
Estimated Price: Bags range from ¥25,000- ¥90,000. Smaller items (keychains, pencil cases, etc) are also available.
“Why Go?”: To find unique elegant leather products that will last you many years.
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