Ports was founded in 1961, by Luke Tanabe, a Canadian entrepreneur. The company began as a business that imported silk from Japan, but gradually evolved to become an upscale women’s clothier with a reputation of making well-crafted garment. By 1966, the company was renamed Ports International, reflecting Tanabe’s itinerant spirit of global travel - a distinctive characteristic that would become the defining narrative of Ports.
The spirit of travel influenced the expansion of Ports. By the mid 1970s, the company expanded its retail store operations throughout much of Canada and into the United States. It was also during this period that Ports launched their signature menswear line. By 1983 the company began to open signature boutiques in international locations, including London’s famed Bond Street.
The mid 1980s brought new leadership to Ports and also a new design vision. It was during this period that Ports began to rebrand itself from a classically inspired town and country clothier to a contemporary designer label. Most notably was the appointment of Dean and Dan Caten, as head co-designers, where the designing duo honed their craft and introduced a new look of youthful exuberance into the Ports brand.
The mid 1990s saw many changes to Ports. It was during this period that Ports shifted focus away from the West and looked towards the East. With the liberalization of the Chinese economy, Ports aggressively opened stores. As a pioneer in the nascent luxury market, Ports made a lasting impact in China by introducing fashion consciousness to the Chinese consumers through early support of the global fashion media. By the end of the millennium, Ports had over 300 stores in Hong Kong and Greater China.
The mid 2000s marked another turning point, with the return of Ports to the West. Under the newly launched Ports 1961 label, Ports opened new stores in Canada and the United States. In 2004, Ports relocated its design office to New York City where it launched its men and ladies’ ready-to-wear collection. In 2007, Ports opened its New York flagship store, in the heart of the historic Meat Market District. The new decade of the 2010s saw further changes once again, as Ports 1961 followed its itinerant spirit - this time focusing attention towards Europe. In 2011, Ports 1961 relocated its design office to Milan, Italy. In 2013, Ports 1961 opened its flagship store in Paris’ famed rue Saint Honoré, in addition to stores and retail outlets in the UK, continental Europe, and the Middle East.