Originally founded as Newport Canada in 1961 as an import business for clothing from Japan, the company evolved into a women's fashion business with Vancouver-born Tanabe as its designer and was renamed Ports International in 1966. The late 1970s saw the company's North American expansion and from 1983 on the opening of signature boutiques at international locations. In the mid-1980s, Tanabe created Tabi International, a Canadian store chain with more affordable clothing for women. Tanabe, whose parents had been Japanese immigrants to Canada, retired in 1989 and sold both Ports and Tabi to Toronto-based Etac Sales Ltd. and its owner, Canadian entrepreneur Alfred K.T. Chan. Tabi International was eventually liquidated in 2011 and the remaining 76 Tabi stores in Canada were closed. Etac filed for bankruptcy in 1994. For the Chinese market, Ports Design Ltd. was created by Chan together with his wife Fiona Cibani in Xiamen in 1994 and listed at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2003. Ports Design Ltd., as of 2011, operated more than 360 Ports stores in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, selling classic style clothing designed by Fiona Cibani and manufactured in company-owned factories in Xiamen. In 2004, Chan re-launched the company in North America as New York City-based Ports 1961 with designer Tia Cibani, Fiona's younger sister. As of 2011, Ports 1961 operated stores in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, West Hollywood, Manhattan, Paris, London and mainland China. Ports 1961 launched a fashion-forward menswear collection for the first time in 2011 with designers Fiona Cibani, who took over for her sister in 2010, and Ian Hylton. Classic menswear collections from Ports had been available before.
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