The summer travel season is upon us again. If you have been following my advice –- getting yourself a cool messenger bag from Rickshaw Bagworks or a sophisticated laptop bag from Hlaska -– you wouldn’t dare show up at the airport with an old beaten up suitcase.
But wait - don’t run down to the nearest luggage store. You’ll end up with something hideous in black or brown, something that resembles everyone else’s luggage.
It’s time for a visit to Hideo Wakamatsu, a boutique on Valencia Street in the Mission for suitcases, backpacks and weekend bags that will surprise the baggage handlers at SFO. Wakamatsu’s hard-sided trolleys are sturdy enough to withstand brutal treatment, but they’re beautiful and quirky.
My favorite is the Easel Trolley which has a translucent picture frame. This allows you to insert whatever picture you want to the front of the trolley. It comes standard with a picture of waves, but you get an additional poster of Mount Fuji, should you desire a change of scenery.
If you are going on a short trip, check out the screaming red Randoseru Tuff Rock backpack (shown here), which is modeled after the iconic Japanese schoolbag. You’ll arrive looking very stylish and sharp.
Hideo Wakamatsu comes from a family that has been making randoseru, the traditional red Japanese schoolbag, for many years. By having his own collection, he is able to add his personal style not just to luggage, but also to handbags, brief cases, totes and wallets.
Although airlines and airport security have conspired to make travel a gruesome experience and to subject us to all the indignities that, in the past, were reserved for inanimate objects, we can resist by putting a little bit of pleasure back into travel . . . starting with beautiful luggage so unique that no one would ever mistake it for their own.
Hideo Wakamatsu (closed on Wednesdays): 563 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. (415) 255-3029. www.hideowakamatsu.com