HIKARU MATSUMURA FOR ISSEY MIYAKE UNIQUE BAG PROJECT (2008)

In today’s supersaturated marketplace, the quest for originality can sometimes seem futile. The season’s must-have glossy black bag may not look so different from last season’s, and the cross-pollination, not to say plagiarism, between even the most exalted brands cam mean that it ends up being hard to tell even a Gucci and Pucci apart.

There is very little new under the sun. The true test of a good (or bad) handbag lies in the quality of the craftsmanship, the obsessiveness of the detailing and the fundamental passion that underpins the design.

In the Unique Bag Project, first launched as a brand in 2007, the Japanese designer Hikaru Matsumara (1964–) has striven to create a series of bags whose uniqueness lies in the sheer depth of the craftsmanship. Gloves have previously provided inspiration for bags: Moschino, for example, created a tongue-in-cheek bag in the form of a cherry-red boxing glove back in 2001. Matsumura, however, has taken an altogether more authentic approach, marrying his precise creative vision with the craft skills of a baseball glove manufacturer in Osaka, Japan.

Hikaru Matsumara with his creations

The result is a curiously anthropomorphic and even fetishistic form – the intricate stitching is vaguely suggestive of a laced-up bodice. The passion here, though, is in the detail, from the elaborately pierced and stitched central panel to the laced, nipeed-in sides.

Who needs originality when you can have uniqueness?