The brand’s history expands back to the early 1980s, where its founders Hirokazu Yamaguchi and David Thai saw an opportunity in the flourishing European hair industry. Mr Yamaguchi and Mr Thai both migrated from Japan to Europe (separately) in the late 70s in search of new careers, lifestyles and adventures.
At the heart of its inception, Dowa International led by Mr Yamaguchi, created and launched the prestigious Passion publishing company in London, specialising in salon hair magazines, books and posters. Today, the Passion magazine is still widely published in Europe and the USA. Hair magazines and books were expensive in the 80s and Mr Yamaguchi saw that through his connections with a Japanese printing company, he was able to produce at scale and offer it at a more affordable price to salons in London. Business was booming and in the mid 80s, Mr Yamaguchi began to search for ways to expand into Paris, the heart and soul of the hair fashion industry. Through a business affiliate, Mr Yamaguchi connected with Mr Thai, who at the time was working for Japan Airlines in Paris. The business proposal to make a move into the hair industry was unexpected yet very interesting and after consideration, Mr Thai took the leap. Europassion was established in Paris and Mr Thai has since become Mr Yamaguchi’s trusted business partner for 30 years.
Whilst the magazine business was doing well, Mr Yamaguchi and Mr Thai saw competition increase as more players began entering the European market. Running the risk of competing in a saturated market, the direction of both companies was re-assessed and the ultimate question was – how was both founders going to leverage his relationship with the hairdressing world? In the late 80s, Mr Yamaguchi attended a hair trade show in London in which he encountered a lone Japanese sharpener with one small machine – sharpening continuously for hours. This amazed Mr Yamaguchi – the skills involved with this highly reputable and traditional Japanese art form. He knew he needed to learn and master this. Mr Kobayashi saw the drive and quick thinking in Mr Yamaguchi and accepted to train and pass on the knowledge and skills. Following this alliance with Mr Kobayashi, Mr Yamaguchi began to turn his attention to diversifying into the hairdressing scissors industry. Mr Thai saw the strategic move as necessary to adapt to the changing nature of the hair magazine industry and soon followed Mr Yamaguchi back to Japan to begin setting up their supply chain.
Changing the Scissor Industry
The scissor market in Europe during the 1990s was dominated by German scissors where the designs were flat blades. A key differentiator of the Japanese scissors was the convex blades which we see in the majority of the scissors made today. The main advantage is that there is a hollow ground feature where the inside surface of the blade is not completely flat. The touch point between the two blades only occurs at the point of cutting, meaning friction is eliminated and control is channelled through the body of the scissors. The result? A smooth and powerful cut.
In the early 1990s, both founders began searching for Japanese craftsmen to design, create and export a series of high-end scissors. Through their connections with Mr Kobayashi, a network was established and operations began – importing to London and Paris and eventually to wider Europe and then the USA. The two brands most recognised in Europe today – Osaka and Passion scissors have been at the forefront of expertise and innovation for the past 30 years. Mr Thai was able to successfully elevate the Osaka brand in France, working with major academies and organisations including Intercoiffure France, Haute Coiffure and showcasing at the Paris Hair Mondial for the last 25 years.
Collaboration with YS Park
By 1995, business was soaring and both companies in London and Paris were offering after-sales sharpening services which again was a major differentiator in the market. By 2004, YS Park had just entered the hair industry and was in search of a partner with network and coverage to distribute his combs and brushes. Mr Yamaguchi agreed to bring on board Mr Park’s products and became the first partner worldwide to distribute to the UK and other parts of Europe. To the public, the innovative products paired up perfectly with the quality Osaka and Passion scissors, making the offering to the market even more attractive. One year later, Mr Thai also agreed to distribute through his networks in France, bringing Mr Park’s brand to the prestigious organisations such as the Intercoiffure, Haute Coiffure and trade shows.
Expansion into Australia
Expansion into Australia occurred in 2018, with Netsujou becoming the major distributor of Osaka scissors. Supported by operations in Paris led by Youki Thai, the company is run by Leonie Truong in Sydney providing key education and expertise in the scissor industry to the Australian public. Whilst traditions have been embedded over the last 30 years, you can expect a fresh and modernised twist on the brand as Youki and Leonie look to elevate the scissor game in Australia.
FB: Osaka Scissors