Yuketen designer Yuki Matsuda is especially proud of his leather bags for Fall/Winter 2013. Made in Italy and fashioned after the famous US mail bags of the past, he’s also added the small details that have made Yuketen a go-to brand for fans of artisanal, quality, unique products. I was able to talk to Yuki and handle the bags in person in Florence.
What I like: those who have read the Manbag threads know that I like a simplicity of design, exquisite materials, a pricepoint in line with quality, and an attention to detail. Yuki has definitely done this with his bags this season. The design is classic: the US mailbag is one of the first Manbags in history, repeated in many forms from slim to thick multi-gusset messengers. Yuki has kept the history, but played with the colors. In addition to the classic tan is a warm, dark green and an indigo blue. Leathers are Italian vegetable tanned cowhide, thick and durable; though they look nice on the shelf, I’m interested to see how nicely they will patina over the next five to ten years of use by a customer. As well, I like the price; when Ralph Lauren gets high dollars for his mailbags, and the “big” brands like Prada and Gucci also put out a classic leather messenger that is now well north of $1k, these priced in the $600-800 range (though of course this may change given taxes, tariffs, and such) seem a relative bargain for the quality.
What I don’t: rivets and rugged. Yuki mentioned having the rivets done by hand to insure longevity, but I find rivets difficult as with constant use they can easily come undone. I like reinforced saddle stitching, personally, because when a rivet comes undone little can be done about it (except to have a new one put on!) Saddle stitching (or something close to it) is expensive and time-consuming to do, but will never come undone. This is a relatively minor detail, however. As well, as the picky person who loves simplicity and refinement feels that perhaps the bags are a bit TOO rugged for my tastes; this is perhaps just a subjective personal point. Since most users aren’t delivering mail on the plains of Western Kansas, having a bag made for this purpose may not be necessary. So, where some of the straps or corners are thick and rugged, I’d perhaps like a softer lining, some hints of quiet details in edging or piping, or an interior designed for greater functionality.
My overall assessment: I’ve never been a fan of mailbags and have never owned one. That being said, this one comes closest to being one I would own myself. It is also one that, seeing the requests and interests of many forum members, they should probably own. Yuki has done a great job of ensuring a fair price, quality materials, and a unique aesthetic sense that would complement denim as well as it would complement a blazer. As well, I like his commitment to small, unique changes in the bag (such as in color and material), while retaining a classic design that goes far back into history. A buyer of this bag would not be disappointed.