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Traveling with Mr. Hideo Wakamatsu

I’ve become that person, or reached that age where I find writing about luggage creatively rewarding. Judge me if you wish, I understand. Like a handkerchief, a cane, a well crafted flask, money clip, pocket watch or monocle – luggage is something I’ve come to admire and value as my hair turns grayer and my perspective on life changes. It’s time I owned some quality luggage.

Back in October of last year, I wrote about luggage, but with a little too much swagger in my opinion. It focused on an old fashioned throw down between Rimowa and Tumi, two high end luggage companies. It was an offer for me to demo, test drive and travel with their brand – providing honest feedback via this site. Neither bit. And I moved on, not convinced I had found my next luggage maker.

In December I found myself in New York City for work, and as luck would have it, staying just blocks from the Muji store.  I have a strong infatuation with everything Japan – food, vending machines, robots, culture, the country, soap balls, the people, technology, and fashion. Muji is the manifestation of all this, and as a result, I spent a lot of time and money in their store. During this in-store experience, I caught a glimpse of their luggage. Boring story, I know. But it sets the tone, or more specifically, foreshadowing.

Fast forward a couple of months, and I’m at my laptop searching for Muji luggage and after a while, Japanese luggage. It didn’t take long to stumble upon Hideo Wakamatsu.

The Muscular 28" in Silver
The Muscular 28" in Silver

This is man of many layers and talents. He not only studied art,  but also literature. And it wasn’t just Japanese, but also French. He spent a decade working in Europe, earning his design stripes – then brought this all back to Tokyo. Imagine that design aesthetic – Paris combined with Tokyo. I love it.

Mr. Wakamatsu is an artist, a scholar, an Asian and European creative, and most importantly out of all this, a brilliant designer.

His work is primarily Japanese in design, but you’ll notice elements of Parisian subtleties. Some of it’s a detailed focus on modernism, some of it’s unexpected, some of it’s quirky and some of it’s just simply, perfectly French and Japanese. Browse his entire body of work and you’ll see – it’s all evident from the his luggage, to briefcases, to backpacks, and even wallets.

His work isn’t mass produced because he plays a part in the process. It’s a finished product with a story and a real designer behind it. It’s got a soul, a personality of sorts. It has French confidence with Japanese coolness. That’s where it becomes a connection to me. It’s different from all other luggage brands.

Now I can finally say, I’ve found my future luggage. Phew.

Now I wonder if Mr. Hideo Wakamatsu will be on one of my flights? That’s actually one person I’d like to talk to while flying.

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