History of Brother Sewing Machines

Brother Sewing Machines has been a Japanese brand recognized for delivering product innovation and consumer satisfaction for over 100 years. Based in Nagoya, Japan, Brother Industries, Ltd. manufactures electrical and electronic gadgets for markets worldwide. The most well-known machine is the Brother sewing machine, which has led the way in stitching innovation for over a century. Brother manufactures top-notch, state-of-the-art home sewing and embroidery equipment and is the largest single-brand manufacturer of sewing machines. This article will tackle the milestones of Brother company in the world of marketing.

How Brother Sewing Machines Started

The 1908s

Brother Sewing Machines dates back to its humble beginnings in 1908 when Kanekichi Yasui started YASUI SEWING MACHINE CO in his home in Nagoya, Japan. It specializes in mending industrial sewing machines and manufacturing sewing machine parts for its local community. Most of the sewing machines repaired were chain stitch sewing machines used to produce straw hats. 

Back then, dye tools and hydraulic presses were used to shape the hats, and sewing machines were necessary equipment for straw hat manufacturers. His two sons, Masayoshi and Tokio were sent to Osaka as apprentices to witness the state of the sewing machine industry in Japan. When Kanekichi was in poor health, his eldest son, Masayoshi, helped his father in the workplace. At 16, he was already an expert sewing machine mechanic.

Later, Masayoshi would build a small new factory to produce hydraulic presses based on original designs and production methods in their hometown. Masayoshi and his brothers also began making straw hats, and they conducted research into sewing technologies and mastered the basic techniques required for sewing machine production. In those times, Japan’s market was purely dependent on imports.

The 1920s

Following Kanekichi’s retirement from the company in May 1923, his sons, Masayoshi and Tokio inherited the company. After two years of painstaking efforts, the Yasui Brothers established a new store named Yasui Brothers’ Sewing Machine Co. and in 1928, launched the first Japanese -manufactured chain stitch sewing machine into the market. 

Later, the brand would be famously known as BROTHER, symbolizing the cooperation displayed in realizing their dream of creating their sewing machine. This new company would independently manufacture Japanese sewing machines that would surpass all machines, manufactured overseas because of their durability. 

The 1930s

Man sitting in front of sewing machine

The goal of manufacturing sewing machines was targeted, with the production of their first straight-lock stitch sewing machine. By 1932 the Yasui brothers were able to manufacture shuttle hooks and later built machine facilities to mass produce the parts. Shuttle hooks allow the bobbin thread to loop around the assembly and eliminate friction, thus, improving stitch quality. 

While the straight-lock stitch sewing machine increased sales, the demand for military-use sewing machines grew. Brother invented an automatic gear cutter to mass produce industrial sewing machines and in 1936, was already manufacturing industrial sewing machines.

The 1950s

Looking for someone to distribute the sewing machine in the United States, Mr. Yasui would later meet a guy named Roy Nakagawa, a former Japanese-American soldier who, after the war, was into the export business. 

Previously assigned to the University of Michigan, Roy taught the Japanese language to American soldiers. During his tour of duty in Japan, he was contacted by his former student, Max Hugel, and Bernie Etzin, to join their company that exports Japanese-made novelties to the U.S. 

Mr. Yasui asked to take on the role of official U.S. distributor because of the sewing machines’ solid reputation for quality and dependability as well as, their distinctively American moniker, BROTHER. As a result, Brother International Corporation emerged. At this period, Brother’s goods included tiny lathes for schools, electric fans, home sewing machines, zigzag sewing machines, home knitting machines, and home washing machines.

The 1960s

Person in white sewing machine

The passion for stitching blossomed further in 1968 after they acquired the Jones sewing machine factory in Audenshaw, Greater Manchester. The company was already firmly established, becoming one of Britain’s favorite brands under their wing.

 In the same year, Brother steamed ahead by introducing the B-701 electric machine model, which cut production time in half and revolutionized the sewing industry.

The 1970s

To finance its rapid product expansion (more than 10 million produced in 1971), Brother International Corporation went public in 1972. The event made history as it enabled Brother to become the first company in Wall Street’s history, with 50% foreign ownership and to receive full S1 SEC ownership.

Unfortunately, the timing could not have been worse because of the mid-70s recession Brother shares dropped in value. Not wanting shareholders to lose money on their investment, the management decided to buy back all shares immediately, and Brother International Corporation once again became a private company in 1976. In the 1970s, Brother products had expanded to electric and computerized sewing machines, computerized monogramming machines, punch card knitting machines, computer keyboards, calculators, industrial sewing machines, manual and electric typewriters, and dot matrix printers.

In 1979, Brother introduced the Computer-Sew 1000, the first computerized home sewing machine. Compact, versatile, and with a small array of included accessories, Computer-Sew 1000 continued Brother’s trend as the industry leader.

The 1980s

The 1980s were a decade of commitment and vision for the company. Market place had changed, and the distribution channels were evolving. Brother began circulating higher-end products to dealers and entered a new distribution channel called “the office superstores.” Brother continued to cement its catchphrase, “to be at your side” with intelligent, in-demand product solutions, essential programs, and support. 

Brother knew it had to expand its product offerings and this is the best evidence by the introduction of its first models of fax machines and word processors in 1987. The company reached $200 million in 1984 because of resilient marketing and product development.

The 1990s

1991 was the release of the first Brother Home Embroidery Machine, the PC7000 computerized sewing machine with an embroidery function. The machine had a memory card that enabled the reproduction of 900 types of patterns and colorful embroidery using a maximum of 5 colors. The new machine features an automatic thread cutter and thread tension adjuster, making it easy to use.

Aside from the “think local” approach, Brother wanted to absorb the benefit of acting globally. In 1994, it began instituting an internationally accepted system for overseeing all aspects of supply chain management. In 1998 the company established an R&D and manufacturing facility in Bartlett, Tennessee, and sales territories were expanded to Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Chile. Later that year, Brother moved its U.S. corporate headquarters to a new state-of-the-art office located in Bridgewater, New Jersey. 

The 1990s also saw the launch of Brother.com, where consumers could easily navigate the company’s wide range of categories and products on the internet.

The Year 2000s

A woman using sewing machine 

Half a century after it took the home sewing world by storm, the release of the groundbreaking ULT2001 took the home/craft sewing dynamic to the next level. With over 100 built-in stitches and nine additional feats to create, the release of the ULT2001 was a great way to start the new millennium. It was the first Brother computerized sewing & embroidery machine with a color display.

 The brand-new machine-integrated was created to make every stitching task easy. A large selection of Disney designs was already present in later iterations, the ULT-2002D and the PE-180D with designs, which were released. Users have options at their disposal to enhance their sewing experience. 

As the 2000s progressed, Brother hit a milestone enabling it to manufacture its 50 millionth machine by 2014.


In 2008, celebrating its 100 years, Brother ushered in the ultimate creative partner in sewing, embroidery, quilting, and crafting, the NV6000D known as The Quattro. The machine came with 100 new and improved features, including industry firsts such as InnovEye™ Technology, an Up Close™ Viewer function, and Runway™Lighting. 


In 2018, Brother released the Luminaire and its revolutionary Stitch Vision Technology. The innovative projection of light allows the user to preview stitches and embroidery designs directly onto the fabric.


A sewing machine with cloth on the table

Because Brother believes that “at your side” is more than a marketing catchphrase, new products are designed to keep old loyalties intact and the drive is still apparent. 

While other companies are content to use words like “synergy,” Brother creates products that revolutionize state-of-the-art home sewing, embroidery, quilting, and crafting machines. 

Brother continues to reinvent and redesign their work. The past six decades have brought the company great rewards, making them one of the pioneers in the industry.

In conclusion, Brother has developed from its modest origins into the diverse worldwide organization it is today through a remarkable history spanning more than a century. While its business operations and technology have changed throughout time, a foundation of solid leadership and product innovation has remained constant. These characteristics are still crucial now, just as they were in 1908.