Dan Mitchell of Oki-Ni interviews Taichi Fujimatsu from Master-Piece (translation by Jonny Nash).

Dan: As you  know, we are big fans of Master-Piece and are really happy to be stocking the brand.  It’s been a while since we last met – about a year if I remember correctly. I guess you have been pretty busy in the last 12 months?

Fujimatsu-san: Yes, I’ve been pretty busy – spending my time working on designing our new collection, and sourcing new fabrics.

Sure – one thing that really stands out about Master-Piece for me is the great colour palettes mixed with a real nice range of multi-fabrics and materials. Are all your fabrics sourced from Japan?

Yes, all fabrics and materials are sourced from Japan. We take our inspiration from everything around us, across all media and genres… our products are pretty much born from this.

Read on for more of the interview.

I think that feeling and energy really comes across in the product. When did you start the brand, and what was your initial inspiration to create Master-Piece?

The brand was created in 1994. At around that time, if you looked at men’s bags, many of products on the market were very tight, formal, business styles, so we wanted to make a casual line.. That was the initial inspiration for the brand.

Since the initial launch 16 years ago Master-Piece has gone from strength to strength- how have things changed regarding the way people see the brand?

Well, of course we had our share of struggles when we first started out, but the fact that we have always strived to make products with originality meant that things began to expand naturally through a variety of areas – collaborations with a variety of companies, more and more coverage in magazines, the development of our physical stores, all of this has helped push us to a point where we now feel that brand is getting proper acknowledgement.

It’s interesting that you bring up collaborations – looking at your collections over the last few seasons you have worked with quite a wide variety of brands or companies to produce certain items or more specialist bags. The collaboration with designer Koichi Yamaguchi certainly springs to mind as one interesting example of this. Do you plan to work with any other designers in the near future?

Well, the next planned project is with Koji Toyoda from Palm Graphics. Back in 1997, Koji was the first person to exhibit at Huntington Beach’s International Surfing Museum. His concept is based around expressing the feeling and message of surfing through art…turning that feeling and inspiration into something tangible. He’s worked on product design in collaboration with a whole variety of brands and exhibited his work many times in Japan.

Sounds great..Will look forward to checking that out. By the way, something that I thought I’d bring up as, maybe not everyone is aware of this – aside from Master-Piece, you also have another bag brand, Vinterks. Is there a distinct difference in the concept of the two brands?

The central concept of the Master-Piece is the unity of functionality and design. Vinterks is based around leather, and is really all about taking advantage of the high skills of Japanese craftsmen to produce truly special products.

Can you tell us a little bit about the new Master-Piece shop which opened in Shibuya?

The concept of the new store is really about taking the positivity that arises through self-expression in the fields of art, music and sports, and synergizing that into the form of a bag. What the new MSPC store offers us is the chance and platform to use our 15 years of bag-making experience and professionalism to develop new lines and get them into a store straight after production.

For the opening, the music was provided by Kenji Sakijiri from WONDERFUL NOISE PRODUCTIONS – Every month, he selects a CD based on a specific theme, which can be purchased in the store. Additionally, we’ve also got a range of DJ bags currently in production.  We are supporting a Osaka radio stations campaign to find up and coming talent “dig me out”” by displaying works by the artist Takayama Taiji.

Finally, In the field of sports, we are working with domestic technical wear brand P01 to produce collaboration items , and also
with Alpine Hiking Brand “Mountain Equipment”, to develop a fully waterproof bag.

What  can we expect from Master-Piece next season?

Our overall concept and approach to manufacturing won’t change, you can just expect us to dig deeper in our search for perfection.

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