Ports International

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IndustryLuxury Fashion
FounderLuke Tanabe
Toronto, Canada
Area served
Worldwide [1]
Key people
Nataša Čagalj (Creative Director Womenswear)
ProductsLuxury Goods
OwnerPorts Design Ltd.
Number of employees
over 5,000

Ports is a luxury fashion house that was founded by Canadian fashion designer Luke Tanabe (1920–2009) in Toronto in 1961. It specializes in luxury ready-to-wear and accessories for men and women.[1] Operating under the company Ports International at its height, it continues under various business structures as Ports International,[2] Ports 1961,[3] Ports Hong Kong,[4] and the Hong Kong-based headquarters of its holding company Ports Design, Ltd.[5]


The company was founded as Newport Canada in 1961 as an import business for clothing from Japan. It evolved into a women's fashion business with Vancouver-born Tanabe as its designer and was renamed Ports International in 1966. In the 1970s, the company expanded in North America, later opening signature boutiques in international locations. in 1970, Ports opened its United States flagship store in Manhattan, followed by stores in Copley Place, Boston and Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California. Ports expanded to the United Kingdom, opening its London–based flagship at on Bond Street in 1978, with boutique openings in Cambridge and Bath in 1979.

In 1980, Tanabe created Tabi International in Toronto,[6] a Canadian store chain with more affordable clothing for women. Tanabe, whose parents had been Japanese immigrants to Canada, retired in 1989 and sold Ports and Tabi to Toronto-based Etac Sales Ltd. and its owner, Canadian entrepreneur Alfred K.T. Chan (*1947).[7] Tabi International was liquidated in 2011 and the remaining 76 Tabi stores in Canada were closed.[8] Etac filed for bankruptcy in 1994.

Ports design team personnel changes included the hiring of designers Christine and Miki Tanabe in 1980, co-designers Dean and Dan Caten in 1988, and Tia and Fiona Cibani as creative directors and chief designers in 1992.

Ports Design Ltd. was created by Chan with his wife Fiona Cibani in Xiamen in 1994 and listed at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (0589.HK) in 2003.[9]

In 2004, Chan re-launched the company in North America as New York City-based Ports 1961 with designer Tia Cibani (*1973), Fiona's younger sister. As of 2011, Ports 1961 operated stores in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, West Hollywood, Manhattan, Paris, London (shop-in-shop) and mainland China. Ports 1961 launched a fashion-forward menswear collection for the first time in 2011 with designers Fiona Cibani, who took over for her sister in 2010, and Ian Hylton. Classic menswear collections from Ports had been available before.

Ports received much publicity in the 2000s. A fashion show and 40th anniversary celebration was held at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2001. The Ports 1961 collection was featured in the 2006 movie The Devil Wears Prada and the 2008 movie Sex and the City. The Ports 1961 wood clutch was showcased at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 2007.

In 2011, Ports expanded to France, with the opening of a Ports 1961 store in Paris.

By the end of 2014, the Hong Kong-based Ports Design operation operated 310 retail stores, selling Xiamen-manufactured products under the Ports International, Ports 1961, BMW Lifestyle, Armani Collezioni, Armani Jeans, and Versace brands.[4]


  1. ^ Smith, Susan (8 January 2010). "Founder of Ports International made things happen". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Ports International". Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Ports 1961". Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b Sito, Peggy (1 June 2015). "Hong Kong fashion manufacturer Ports Design sells stake in fashion and apparel business". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Ports Design Limited (宝姿時装)". Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Company Overview of TABI International Corporation". Bloomberg. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  7. ^ Upstart Seeks to Create A Chinese Fashion Power, wsj.com, 27 September 2007
  8. ^ Tabi International closing remaining stores, cbc.ca, 5 April 2011
  9. ^ Sister Act, time.com, 11 September 2006

Further reading[edit]

  • Savigny Newsletter – Issue 10, October 2009 [3][permanent dead link]
  • Globe and Mail - Nov 2009 "Founder of Ports International, Luke Tanabe, stayed true to his vision" [4]

External links[edit]