About Manhattan Portage

The Story

There was a simple philosophy that Manhattan Portage set out to achieve back in 1983, "New York Tough." Almost thirty years later it is certainly ringing true. From Montreal to Melbourne, Osaka to Oslo, and Stockholm to San Francisco, Manhattan Portage's line of bags are indeed everywhere and carried by everyone. Despite their sweeping global popularity, Manhattan Portage remains loyal to their NYC roots. This nearly 30 year lifespan in the volatile fashion world, and in a town that embraces the designer-of-the-moment but does not suffer has-beens, is no small feat. Manhattan Portage has been able to avoid becoming another fleeting fad and withstand the test of time because their bags do.

By innovating and expanding their line to accommodate the range of uses their bag owners' demand, the Manhattan Portage line has developed to serve all walks and runs of urban life. That goal back in the early 80's, was to take the functionality of outdoor gear and packs and bring them to an urban audience. The first company to use CORDURA brand nylon and high quality plastic Delrin buckles in messenger bags, Manhattan Portage has been an innovator ever since. Whether you are a DJ transporting your spinning equipment, a cell phone-toting investment banker, a starving student hauling pricey textbooks or a messenger racing to deliver documents on time, Manhattan Portage has a style for you. (Even if, like many New Yorkers, you fit into two or more of these categories!)

The variety of stores that sell Manhattan Portage bags also speaks to their varied clientele. Luggage, leather, bicycle, shoes, clothing, and even variety and gift stores all carry Manhattan Portage bags. With their Red logo, 1000 Denier Cordura Nylon, Delrin hardware, and a style selection including laptop bags, messenger bags, backpacks and more, Manhattan Portage bags don't hide and won't be going away any time soon. The emergence of competitors and innumerable imitators hasn't fazed them, but rather left Manhattan Portage celebrating this ultimate sign of trend triumph.

Although Manhattan Portage has received press in New York Times, People, Newsweek, and the Village Voice, their media coverage is not what has fueled their resounding success. It is their versatility, durability, and adaptability that has allowed them to survive the ebb and flow of mercurial fashion tides. So don't settle for an inferior product, get the real thing and treat yourself or a loved one to an authentic Manhattan Portage bag.

Celebrating 30 Years of Innovation - New York Tough

Capturing the spirit of a city and the pulse of urban life. That's Manhattan Portage ... It's New York Tough.

Born out of the challenging and gritty landscape of the New York City streets nearly three decades ago, Manhattan Portage was an original pioneer of the authentic messenger bags which created a new, urban lifestyle and changed the face of fashion forever. More than a statement or passing trend, Manhattan Portage has become a necessary part of urban living.

With its iconic, red label of the Manhattan skyline emblazoned on every bag, backpack and briefcase, Manhattan Portage has become much more than a local legend. We embraced an emerging culture that was always on the move, on the go and on the run 24/7 and which symbolized the vitality and pulse of the new metropolitan life. Our logo now flashes on avenues and boulevards around the world from New York to London, Toronto to Tokyo, San Francisco to Singapore and from Boston to Beijing which demonstrates the scope of our national distribution, global outreach and world-wide success.

So what becomes a legend most after all these years?

In these demanding times, we're on a mission to make our bags reflect the exciting but difficult realities of the new century and the changing international environment. As a recognized and respected leader in the volatile worlds of the fashion industry and the global economy, we have created a new vision which is rooted in our past, embodies the present and answers to the future...

Manhattan Portage is New York Tough and Downtown Smart.

We have preserved our core principles and egalitarian vision of "a bag for everyone" with the added value of "New York Tough" - a bag for all, in a style for everyone that's as smart as the city itself. We remain committed to the fundamental guidelines that we set years ago for great, innovative designs, use of the highest quality materials, superb construction and excellent craftsmanship which have always been the hallmarks of all our products.

When we began this extraordinary enterprise some three decades ago, it was a labor of love and a lesson in necessity really being the mother of invention. We responded to the needs and lifestyles of New York's fast-moving bike messenger community by creating the strong, practical and well-constructed Manhattan Portage prototype. The reputation of these rugged and versatile bags spread like wildfire and very soon, not only were working class heroes like messengers using them, but moms, students, artists and musicians, teachers, nurses and people from all walks and ways of life were carrying MP bags in the streets and on the subways all over town and on trains and planes across country.

A local phenomenon was becoming a national sensation and a symbol of the new emerging urban culture. Our bags and backpacks have earned their "street cred"- their proven usefulness as a reliable and really tough companion on the streets in one of the most demanding cities in the world, New York - the epicenter of fashion and finance, the arts and culture, media, music and money.

Like the ever-changing city itself, Manhattan Portage has weathered the tides of history from the economic storms of the 1980's, the political turmoil of the 90's, the fallen heroes and the fallen towers of September 11th to the turbulent currents of the new century. And like the city, we were a witness to these events and we have endured, we have grown, we have expanded and we have survived because Manhattan Portage is New York Tough.

That's why we have created a brand new campaign based on this theme - "Manhattan Portage: New York Tough and Downtown Smart"- because we have lived it and experienced it ourselves from the very beginning through the difficult days of our first venture on the Lower East Side to our current headquarters in fashionable Soho.

Every bag, backpack and briefcase and all MP products are constructed from the best materials, designed for the rigors of modern life and crafted with expert care. We've used the experience, skills, technical innovations and indeed, the success of the past three decades to expand and diversify our portfolio to meet the challenges and changes of the new century.

At Manhattan portage, every product embodies our determined spirit and confident stand in the world of business and fashion. They are all built strong, they are built cool and classic, they are built versatile and practical, and they are built durable. They can take it because we build them to last. Manhattan Portage owns "New York Tough." It's become part of our history and it's in our DNA.

Manhattan Portage has also been a leader in the matrix of cultural transitions. We pioneered a new, urban aesthetic based on the tremendous changes which were happening in the worlds of art and fashion. We were inspired by one of the most powerful and creative expressions of urban life called "street art." It's big, it's bold, it's in the street and on the buildings and it has the ultimate New York attitude. These images and those from "pop art" and the iconography of city life became part of our design and graphics language. Another major transformation occurred when the focus and the energy of the fashion industry moved from midtown to downtown - to Soho and Tribeca which were now setting the trends in culture, fashion and art. We combined these dramatic changes and dynamic forces together to create a new aesthetic and style for our collection which we call Downtown Smart - it has real New York attitude because it's chic, it's innovative, it's savvy, it's polished, it's fresh and it's confident.

Everybody knows that quintessential song about New York which has the line"... if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere..." Well, we have made it here in this great city and in many others around the world. And as part of our 30th anniversary celebration, Manhattan Portage is planning a major campaign based on our distinctive "New York Tough" and Downtown Smart theme. This will include special events and a unique gallery exhibition featuring a comprehensive look back at our classic designs and best sellers, as well as the most innovative, unusual and striking styles in our collection from our three decades of work. It will also have a companion traveling show to take to our national and international networks in Europe, Asia and around the globe because we want to share our accomplishments, honor our dedicated staff and recognize the visionary leadership which has made all this possible.

Come celebrate with us because Manhattan Portage has really become a legend in its own time.

Our Manufacturing Philosophy Click here to see all our fabric types

Manhattan Portage has been designing and producing hand made bags since 1983 and over the years gained a reputation for outstanding quality and detailed craftsmanship. So what makes our bags so special? It all comes down to three basic things that must be done well: the design of the bag, the choice of components, and the overall construction & finishing of the bag during production.

Out of these 3 tenets stems our manufacturing philosophy: to carefully design each new bag, to personally select and inspect all materials, and finally to ensure we get the construction and quality control right. So how do we achieve that you may ask?

First and foremost Manhattan Portage spent its early days designing bags to answer that question: how could we meet the practical needs of New Yorkers when what was mostly available in the 70's were outdoor backpacks, handbags and leather briefcases? The answer came from the streets. By deciding to turn the popular outdoor gear of the days into urban gear that answered the needs of city people, the Manhattan Portage line of messenger bags and DJ bags was born.

What was originally designed for bike messengers in NYC and DJ's in the East Village became mainstream, and these authentic designs from MP have now become classics in the bag industry.

Second, Manhattan Portage uses the best components and the latest in hardware, such as 1000 Denier Cordura Nylon, the highest grade of nylon currently available in the market today (originally developed for the US military, the yarns used in our Cordura are still made in the USA by Invista) and YKK custom zippers, the gold standard for zippers in the bag and clothing industry. The same dedication to quality goes for other components used in Manhattan Portage bags such as the buckles, inside lining, outer binding, webbing straps, key rings, etc. All these components cost more than a standard grade, but as the saying goes, you ultimately get what you pay for.

Third, while getting the bag design right and picking the right components goes a long way, it is still not enough. So how do we get the production part right at MP? Detailed craftsmanship (e.g. all stress areas of a Manhattan Portage bag are triple stitched for durability) and numerous quality controls during all stages of production allow us to detect and correct most issues when they happen, long before our bags ship out and hit retailer's shelves.

Despite all these steps you may ask, what if something still goes wrong with the bag I just bought? Visit our Q&A page for more details about your Warranty Protection.

Last but not least, New York is a city of many different ethnicities and cultures. As you can imagine our company has a multi-cultural staff and we are proud to be a representation of the melting pot that is New York City. We value any comments or feedback you may have, so please don't hesitate to drop us a line at: customerservice@manhattanportage.com.

Manufacturing Click here to see all our fabric types

While several bag components we use are still made in the USA (Original Wax, Cordura yarns from Invista and A Grade Leather for our newly launched Token line at: www.tokenbags.com), most of our production facilities are now located in Taiwan.

We visit our Taiwanese factories on a regular basis to ensure superior quality, detailed craftsmanship and ethical working conditions. Like our hard working staff in New York, our factories in Taiwan employ teams of hardworking and experienced craftspeople who earn better living wages than other factories located in Southeast Asia.

MP factoryMP factory

We still design our entire line of bags in New York City, and regardless of where MP bags are manufactured we are committed to maintaining the quality and integrity of our products. Equally important is our pledge to provide consumers with the best possible quality and value at reasonable prices, which is unfortunately no longer possible if the bags were still to be made in the USA.

MP factoryMP factory

Entrepreneur's Interview

The Manhattan Portage brand began in 1980 as an idea whose time had come... make a bag for urban people who were always on the go that they could really depend on. That concept caught on first with New York City messengers who needed a sturdy, reliable product that was as tough as the streets they traveled and became the now famous "Messenger" bag. Over the years, the original idea was expanded and I wanted to make a bag for everyone that was practical, functional, trendy and very "New York." Our brand now appears on bags for students, business people, travelers, teachers, and so many others. And the distinctive logo of the city skyline etched in white on a red background was becoming an icon in the urban landscape and beyond.

In the 1990's, I decided to use my experience in the Asian import/export area to develop the MP brand as an international business. I also wanted to introduce the unique New York culture and style to other countries. As this brand became more well-known, we opened a flagship store to showcase our many different styles and continued the goundbreaking innovations such as light-weight materials, plastic buckles and Cordura fabrics which made our products so practical and durable and even fashionable for everyone.

As we approach our brand's 25th anniversary, we have become known across the city and around the country for a unique and very special line of bags. We have introduced many new designs, styles, materials, and even new brands such as Token as a high-end addition to the original line. During these years, our bags have really traveled a long way too... from the city streets to the office suites. Along the way, the Manhattan Portage trademark has become a symbol of outstanding quality and distinctive design not just here, but in more than 25 countries around the world.

Su Hwei Lin - President of Manhattan Portage

No matter where you travel in New York and no matter who you are, one thing you are bound to see is a bright red rectangle with an image of the city's sklyline outlined in white on all kinds of bags carried by all kinds of people everwhere. The brand name on those bags is Manhattan Portage and this signature trademark has become an urban legend not just on our streets, but all over the country.

And the person behind that label is an extraordinary woman named Su-hwei Lin who is the chief executive and trademark owner of this brand and related companies that she has taken world-wide over the past 10 years.

Copies, Counterfeits & Imitations

It has come to our attention that certain companies have been producing imitation Manhattan Portage bags! Pay close attention to the logo when making a purchase. BUYERS BEWARE!

★   If you would like to verify the authenticity of your products, please register your bag here.

★   Always purchase your bag through an authorized Manhattan Portage re-seller. You can find a list on our retailer locator.

- Examples of Manhattan Portage Genuine Logo

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- Examples of Fake Manhattan Portage Logo

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- Examples of Fake Manhattan Portage Bags

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