Ports was founded in 1961 by Canadian entrepreneur Luke Tanabe, its
name inspired by the global vision of its founder, who began importing
silk from Japan to the New World. Tanabe expanded Ports into a luxury
womenswear label with a reputation for unsurpassed quality and simplicity of style – an ethos Ports has carried with it into the 21st century.
By 1966, the company was renamed Ports International, reflecting Tanabe’s wanderlust, evocative of the jet set and the spirit of global travel. This distinctive characteristic would become the defining narrative of Ports. Travel influenced its expansion: by the mid-1970s, the brand had boutiques throughout North America, and in 1983 it found a new port of call in Europe, where it expanded throughout the following decade. The appointment of Dean and Dan Caten as co-head designers led Ports on another journey, from a classically inspired town-and-country clothier to a modern designer label. The mood was of youthful exuberance, with noted new success found in the Far East.
In the 21st century, Ports International was rechristened Ports 1961, reflecting the label’s roots and half a century of exploration of cultures and styles. Ports 1961 relocated its design base to Europe in 2011, first to Milan and then, in 2017, to London, reflecting the background of the creative director, Nataša Čagalj, but also the ideology of the label. A global hub and melting pot of cultures, London is the perfect home for Ports 1961 – less a base, more a window to the world. Not a final destination, but the start of the next journey.