Tuesday, May 12, 2009

拒絕當名牌的書包大王

2009.05.07 【編輯部】


The King of Bookbags
去過日本京都的遊客都知道,必買的回鄉伴手禮,首推東山區知恩院附近的百年老店「一澤」或「一澤信三郎」帆布包,他們的包包不但做工精細、色澤溫潤,且帶有質樸的設計感,更讓許多走在流行尖端的青年男女也愛不釋手。 Pretty much anyone who’s been to Kyoto knows to pick up some Shinzaburo canvas bags as gifts. Lovingly hand-crafted in Kyoto’s Higashiyama District, not far from the famed Chion-in Temple, the bags feature attractive colors and a simplicity of design that have made them a runaway favorite with style-conscious young trendsetters. 在台灣,也有一家以製作帆布包出名的老店──高雄市鹽埕區的「書包大王」。這裡的帆布書包,做工和品質都不輸給京都的「一澤帆布」,但價格卻不到它的1/10;更重要的是,它還承載著橫跨數個世代台灣學生的共同記憶,是許多人年輕歲月最青澀也最美好的一頁。 Taiwan, for its part, is home to The King of Bookbags, a well-known maker of canvas bags that’s been doing brisk business for decades in the Yancheng District of Kaohsiung City. Their canvas bookbags are every bit a match for the workmanship and quality of a Shinzaburo bag, yet sell at less than one-tenth the price. Even more importantly, for many generations in Taiwan the bookbags from The King are inalterably linked with fond memories from their schooldays. 什麼樣的包包可以得到林懷民、蔣勳、馮光遠、林正盛、黃韻玲、馬景濤等台灣眾多藝文界人士的一致推薦?那不是什麼LV、Coach等知名國際名牌,而是位處港都高雄一家安安靜靜的小店──「書包大王」。 What kind of bag would become a favorite with such Taiwanese cultural luminaries as Lin Hwai-min, Chiang Hsun, Feng Guangyuan, Lin Cheng-sheng, Kay Huang, and Steve Ma? No, it wouldn’t be Louis Vuitton, Coach, or any of the other big-name international brands; it’s The King of Bookbags, a small, low-profile firm in the port city of Kaohsiung. 目前就讀英國倫敦大學Goldsmiths學院文化研究博士班的張世倫,從大學時期就是書包大王的愛用者。他喜歡書包大王的造型簡約素潔,回歸質樸原真,毫不花俏張狂,又具備基本的功能性,裝書或放相機都很方便。 Chang Shih-lun, a doctoral candidate in Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, has been a big fan of The King since his undergraduate days. He likes the simple elegance of The King’s products, which combine an unadorned look with rugged utility. From books to cameras, there is very little that doesn’t travel well in one of these finely crafted bags.
從教職開始的書包因緣Teacher gets a new groove
初與書包大王第二代老闆林芳洲接觸,會覺得他有些冷淡,現年54歲的他為人低調,從不接受媒體採訪,即使這次破例,仍然堅持「拍照不露臉」。 When I first meet Lin Fang-jhou, second-generation proprietor of The King, he strikes me as a bit aloof. Reserved in demeanor, the 54-year-old Lin never accepts interviews, and though he has made an exception this once, he refuses to allow any photograph with his face in it. 然而一番懇談後,他察覺了記者的南部口音,忍不住問起:「妳『細漢』佇高雄,沒揹過我們的『冊包』?阿,一定是太小就搬到台北去,不過妳爸爸絕對聽過⋯⋯」人不親土親,面對返鄉子弟,林芳洲漸漸泛起南部人的熱情,話匣子也跟著打開了。 But he soon notes my southern accent and asks, “So you lived in Kaohsiung as a kid? Didn’t you have one of our bookbags? Oh, wait, I guess you must have moved up to Taipei before you were old enough for one. But I’m absolutely sure your dad must be familiar with them....” There’s nothing like having a shared hometown to break the ice, as the saying goes. Once Lin realizes I have southern roots, he becomes chatty. 書包大王是林芳洲的父親林添岸所創立。他在日治時期是國小老師,當時經濟條件較差的台灣囡仔,只能用簡單的布巾包書,但同齡的日本學生卻帶著方正筆挺的日製帆布書包,「內地人」和「本島人」懸殊的貧富差距,令他頗為感慨。 The King of Bookbags was established by Lin Fang-jhou’s father, Lin Tian-an, who had originally been an elementary-school teacher during the Japanese ruling period. In those days, the families of local Taiwanese schoolkids were generally not so well off, so they just wrapped their school books in cloth, while their Japanese counterparts carried their books to school in smartly designed canvas bags made in Japan. Observing the economic gap between the locals and the Japanese students, the schoolteacher could only sigh. 光復後不久,由於不適應國民政府推行的國語文化,林添岸選擇從教職退休,與作裁縫的妻子改行轉做書包生意,也兼賣彈匣袋、防毒面具、車篷等軍需用品;起初店開在故鄉台南,直至1959年才遷到小型加工廠逐漸密集起來的高雄市區。 Then Taiwan was recovered from the Japanese and a new government required the use of Mandarin in the schools. That was a tall order for Lin Tian-an, who soon chose to retire from his teaching post and start up a business with his seamstress wife making bookbags and other items, such as ammunition bags, gas masks, and tarp tops for vehicles. The couple originally set up shop in Tainan, where they were from, but moved in 1959 to Kaohsiung City, home to a growing concentration of small processing firms.
勞力密集的純手工書包Hand-made bookbags
由於長年受日本統治,光復後台灣學生仍然沿用日系的方型帆布書包,其上則簡單印著「雄中」、「雄女」、「建國中學」、「北一女」等校名或校徽。 After half a century of Japanese rule, students in Taiwan were accustomed to using Japanese-style square canvas bookbags printed with the name of their school, and perhaps the school’s emblem. 深受日本教育影響的林老先生,改行做書包後也堅持要有不輸給日本人的品質,因此「書包大王」所生產的書包,一律精選由台灣本地布商生產的緊實帆布,材質更是堅持百分百純棉。 「純棉帆布不僅觸感較好,揹久了皮膚也不會過敏。」林芳洲指出,坊間書包多半用「一碼重8-10盎斯」的帆布,但書包大王所用的帆布因密度高,每碼則重達12盎斯,雖然成本較高,但卻耐磨、耐重,也可讓布與銅扣之間的咬合度更為緊密,即使用久了銅扣也不易鬆脫。 Lin Tian-an was determined that his bookbags should be every bit as good as those made by the Japanese. He used sturdy, domestically produced canvas made of 100% cotton. That’s because “pure cotton canvas feels better to the touch, and doesn’t irritate the skin even after you’ve been carrying it around for a long time.” Lin Fang-jhou points out that most bookbags are made from eight- to 10-ounce canvas, but bookbags from The King are heavier at 12 ounces per yard. It’s more expensive, but more wear-resistant and less affected by a heavy load of books, and buckles don’t pull loose from the thicker fabric after the bags have been used for a while. 布料較厚,染色自然也相當耗工,它們的帆布不是只染表面,而是整塊布料浸在染料中染;染好後再丟進100℃的滾水測試,以確保書包洗過後也不會褪色。純棉的布又很會「吃料」,因此光是染料就佔了書包成本的1/3。 Dyeing the thick canvas is a very laborious process. At The King, the fabric is dyed not just on the surface, but is thoroughly soaked in the dye and then thrown in boiling water to make sure it is colorfast. All-cotton fabric soaks up a lot of dye, which accounts for fully one-third the cost of each bookbag. 「雖然純棉帆布很難做到完全防水,但由於我們所用的帆布織法較為緊密,也可提高它的防水效果;就算不小心淋大雨而弄溼,晾乾後仍然一樣好用,」林芳洲相當有自信地說。 Lin Fang-jhou proclaims with confidence, “It’s not easy to make all-cotton canvas completely waterproof, but the canvas we use features a very tight weave, which does make it highly water-resistant. If you get caught in a downpour, all you have to do is set it out to dry and it’s good as new.” 造型簡單的方型書包,車縫可是一點也不馬虎,這也是「書包大王」產品耐用的關鍵。例如在布與布的接合處,除了會在正面先車一條外,反折過來至少還會再加車兩條,就算長久使用,縫線也不致鬆脫掉落。 The King’s square bookbags may be plain and unadorned, but there’s no cutting corners with the stitching. This is a key to their longevity. Wherever two pieces of fabric are joined, in addition to a single pass on the front face, The King also makes at least two passes on the reverse. The seams on a bookbag from The King simply don’t tear loose, no matter how long the bag has been in use. 林芳洲指出,純手工製作的帆布書包,是極為勞力密集的工作,在過去那個只有腳踏裁縫車的年代,一個技巧純熟的師傅,一天最多也只能製作20個書包。 According to Lin, producing a completely hand-made bookbag is an extremely labor-intensive process. Back in the days when all the sewing machines were treadle-operated, a highly skilled craftsman could turn out no more than 20 bags per day. 即使是已有電動裁縫車的今天,也很難轉為自動化生產,產能至多也僅可提升到每人每天30個左右。目前在店中的10名老師傅,都是工作超過30年的資深「職人」,每天最多生產200個書包,訂單已排到一個月後。 Even with today’s electric sewing machines, automation remains difficult, and a single worker can still complete at best some 30 bags a day. All 10 of the veteran craftspersons now working for The King have been at their jobs for over 30 years, yet together they make a maximum of 200 bags each day, and orders are backlogged for a month.
從南部紅遍全台灣Islandwide popularity
強調用料及做工紮實的書包大王,在物資相對匱乏的民國50年代,每個50元的售價,比坊間帆布書包約25元的單價貴上一倍,對一般人來說是奢侈品,通常是經濟條件較佳的家庭,或孩子爭氣地考上雄中、雄女等第一志願,家長才會硬著頭皮買給小孩,因此「書包大王」也在無形間和「優等生」劃上等號。 Despite the straitened economic circumstances of the 1960s, the sturdy bookbags of The King sold for NT$50 each, twice the price of other brands. A luxury item, they were mostly purchased by relatively well-off families, or as a reward for kids who tested into a prestigious high school. Over time, The King came to be associated with scholastic achievement. 由於售價昂貴,擁有書包大王的學生,多半相當「惜物」,一個書包「兄終弟及」的情形所在多有,甚至考上大學到台北唸書還帶著去,書包大王的名氣就這樣由南至北,逐漸傳開來。 And because of the high price, students treated bookbags from The King with extra special care. Indeed, the bags were often passed down from sibling to sibling, and some students kept using them after heading up to universities in Taipei. That’s how the fame of The King spread north. 1989年,一群即將從師大附中畢業的學生,興起了製作「紀念書包」的念頭,為了與上課用的書包作區隔,他們找上了書包大王,特製一款黑色、無扣,其上印著「附中人」的書包,沒想到大受好評,也引起一股「紀念書包」熱潮,迄今不衰。 In 1989, a group of third-year students at the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University decided to have some commemorative bookbags made to celebrate their upcoming graduation. They turned to The King to supply them. The bags were straight black, with no buckles, and printed with a three-character phrase identifying the owner as a “graduate of the Affiliated.” The bags were a huge hit, and inspired a “commemorative bookbag” tradition that continues strong today. 「很多日治時期就留下來的老學校,都有傳統的『紅樓』建築,而高中生最喜歡從『紅樓』作文章,像雄中、建中的學生,都自稱『紅樓才子』,光是印有『紅樓』的書包,我們都不知道做過多少個,」林芳洲回憶說。 “A lot of the schools that date back to the Japanese ruling period have buildings on campus constructed in the red brick style of that era, and high-school students see them as a school symbol,” explains Lin. “Students from Kaohsiung Senior High and Jianguo High in Taipei, for example, have adopted the moniker of ‘scholars of the old red hall’ for themselves, and there’s no telling for sure how many schools have an image of a red brick building printed on their bookbags.”
沒有銅臭味的老闆Not trying to get rich
「紀念書包」口耳相傳的效果驚人,這種素樸、環保、沒有花俏裝飾、又帶著濃濃書卷氣的純棉帆布書包,不但實用,也讓人彷彿重回清湯掛麵的清純年代。 The popularity of commemorative bookbags spread like wildfire by word of mouth. The simply colored, environmentally friendly, plainly designed cotton bookbags, with their unmistakable “schooldays” air, are reminiscent to adults of an earlier time in their lives. 短短幾年內,書包大王已成為學術界、藝文界與攝影界中最具「文氣」的象徵。包括鳥會、扶輪社、婦女、環保、藝文、宗教團體等活動,甚至研討會的贈品、政黨競選的宣傳,都會找來他們的產品加持。書包大王的書包,也從此走出校園,逐漸成為「大人」的書包,至今約7成是賣給成年人的。 In just a few short years, The King of Bookbags has come to be known among educators, cultural elites, and photographers alike as a symbol of education and refinement. Birdwatching clubs, rotary clubs, women’s groups, environmental activists, cultural groups, religious organizations, and even highbrow academic conferences and political campaigns like to give out bookbags from The King at their activities. The King has thus moved off of school campuses and gradually acquired standing in the adult world, as well, to the point where 70% of users today are in fact adults. 號稱台灣最有氣質的誠品書店,十多年前也看上書包大王的極簡設計,開始在書店的一角賣起各色素面書包,頗受許多北部「知青」好評。 不過同款書包,誠品一個要賣500元,但書包大王本店卻僅要350元,高出近4成的價差,讓林芳洲賣得很不心安,因此即使每年誠品都「買斷」數千個書包在店內轉賣,他還是在去年結束了雙方長達10年的合作關係。 Eslite Books, arguably the classiest of Taiwan’s bookstore chains, zeroed in over a decade ago on the elegant simplicity of The King, and began selling the bags in its stores. The product proved very popular with Eslite’s highly educated clientele. But the very same bookbags that The King sold for NT$350 carried a price tag of NT$500 at Eslite. The markup of close to 40% made Lin Fang-jhou uncomfortable, so after a 10-year run during which Eslite bought thousands of bags per year, Lin terminated the consignment sales last year. 林芳洲指出,或許是父親教職出身的影響,他們並沒有生意人「一心以賺錢為重」的拚勁,反倒比較像公教人員「日子過得去就好」的務實心態。 Lin explains that making a lot of money has never been a big motivation for his family, and surmises that it may be due to the influence of his father as a former schoolteacher. The Lin family have the steady-as-she-goes mentality of civil servants, and are happy just to have enough to live comfortably. 所以儘管「書包大王」4個字已經成為台灣本土精神的某種象徵,但林芳洲並無意把自己塑造成「文化品牌」,他的店鋪一如尋常賣各種包包的百貨行,除了自家產品,還有雙肩揹的小學生書包、行李袋、行李箱等其他品牌的商品,招牌書包多年來也仍維持原價,並不因為名氣響亮就灌入「附加價值」;或許也正因為如此,他才無法接受誠品抬高售價的作法。 不過這個號稱自己只是「隨便賣賣」的老闆,對於書包品質的堅持卻絲毫不曾馬虎。 Even though “The King of Bookbags” brand has become a symbol of the best in homegrown traditions, Lin nevertheless has no wish to define The King as a “cultural brand.” His store still sells all sorts of other bookbag-related products. In addition to those made by The King, there are ones from other makers, such as bookbags for elementary school kids (with double straps for carrying like a backpack), duffel bags, and suitcases. The King has not jacked up prices to capitalize on the brand name’s cachet. And that is perhaps why Lin couldn’t go on letting Eslite sell at a marked-up price. Lin may claim that he’s “just trying to move a few goods,” but he’s always been a stickler for quality.
實用帶來人氣 Real value wins popularity
林芳洲表示,早年書包大王的口碑之一來自:「可以永久提供維修服務」;而25年前他接手之後,只改了一件事,就是希望能提供「不需要維修的產品」。 One source of The King’s good reputation, he explains, is that “the company started off by offering free repair service in perpetuity.” The only thing he’s changed in 25 years since taking over the business is to strive for a product that “never needs repairing.” 因此他將最易因載重而脫線斷裂的帆布背帶,改為與降落傘安全帶同級的尼龍帶;銜接背帶的扣環,也從較軟的銅環,換成堅硬不變形的塑鋼材質,即使長期承重上百公斤也不會損壞。「光是一條帶子成本就要幾十元!」 That’s why the same grade of nylon seen in parachute harnesses is what he now uses for the shoulder strap, the one part of the bookbag most likely to fail. And for the grommets in the shoulder strap, he has switched from copper, which is relatively soft, to hard engineering plastics such as Delrin, which retain their shape and hold up nicely under loads of over 100 kilograms. “Our cost for a single shoulder strap runs to tens of NT dollars.” 改良後的帆布書包,獲得新舊顧客的一致好評,書包大王的人氣也越來越旺,甚至還從台灣紅到對岸去,許多香港、大陸觀光客會帶著當地出版的報導及旅遊指南,千里迢迢遠赴高雄來指定買這款「最具台味」的伴手禮。 The upgrade has gone over extremely well with customers, and bookbags from The King just keep getting more and more popular. The firm’s fame has even hopped the Taiwan Strait, apparently, for tourists from Hong Kong and mainland China now show up in Kaohsiung with guidebooks in hand, hunting specifically for this “typically Taiwanese” gift item to take back home. 有人會以「懷舊風」來解釋帆布書包的流行,林芳洲卻認為,「懷舊」只是一部分的原因,重點還是「產品牢固實用」,那才是書包歷久不衰的關鍵。 Some attribute The King’s popularity to nostalgia, but Lin says there is more to it than that: more important to the bags’ long-lasting success is the fact that they are well made and very useful. 「即使今年景氣不佳,我們的生意也不受影響;幾年前潭美颱風來襲、高雄淹大水那天,都還有人來店要買書包,如果只是單純的『懷舊』,是不會讓人有這麼大的誘因,非得在颱風天出門買書包的,」他分析。 “Despite the economic downturn, our business has not been affected. Even when Typhoon Trami caused flooding in Kaohsiung, people were still coming to the store looking for bookbags. If nostalgia were the only motivation, people wouldn’t be out braving the typhoon just for a bookbag,” says Lin. 對於許多人喜歡拿日本的「一澤帆布」與書包大王比較,曾遠赴京都考察的林芳洲指出,一澤帆布能開發多種花色的背包、提袋、手提包、腰包,甚至圍裙、帽子等多元產品,是因為日本傳統對手工職人的工匠技藝相當尊重,從織布、染布、五金材料的製作等,都可以找到遵循古法、做工極為精細的工匠,因此這樣的手工藝才能歷久不衰。 Many draw comparisons between The King and the Shinzaburo canvas bags made in Japan. Lin has been to Kyoto to visit Shinzaburo Hampu Co., however, and sees big differences between the two companies. Shinzaburo has a much bigger variety of products—backpacks, tote bags, handbags, fanny packs, aprons, caps—in a wide selection of pattern designs, which The King could not hope to match. Lin notes that the traditional crafts are accorded much more importance in Japanese culture, so there are many more craftsmen available who are well versed in the old ways of weaving textiles, dyeing fabrics, and working with metal. 「很可惜台灣並沒有這樣的環境,只靠我們在做,沒有中上游的工匠配合,很難開發出多樣化的帆布製品,」他說。 “It’s such a shame,” says Lin, “that we don’t have that kind of environment in Taiwan. It’s just the few of us here at The King. Without an entire community of craftsmen to source various things from, there’s no way we could turn out such a large variety of canvas bags.” 計畫5年後退休的林芳洲,目前子女家人都無意接手這家店,他也坦言,手工帆布書包的傳承,未來將是一大隱憂。 Lin plans to retire in five years, but none of his children intend to take over the family firm, so it’s not at all certain that The King will continue in business. 「看看吧,請專業經理人或轉賣給其他有心人經營都是可行的;也或許幾年後會出現轉機,能找到更合適的人接手,」他語帶不捨地說:「手工書包如果就這樣消逝,那就太可惜了!」 “We’ll just have to wait and see how it works out,” says Lin. “We could hire a professional to run the business, or sell it to someone with a genuine interest. Maybe somebody will turn up that’s suitable. It sure would be a shame if handmade bookbags became a thing of the past.”(Lin Hsin-ching/photos by Jimmy Lin/tr. by David Smith)

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