Thanks to Asprey, Britain and Japan now share something more than their love for tea.
In October the British luxury retailer unveiled the Hikihaku Matchbox, a limited-edition jeweled clutch bag created with Japan’s traditional Hikihaku weaving technique.
John Rigas, Asprey’s chairman since 2006, wrote in an email that the clutch’s boxy shape and name were inspired by the decorative matchboxes, made in silver or gold, that the company produced in the 1920s. “References of those can be found in Asprey’s catalogs from the Art Deco period,” he wrote.
The clamshell-style bag, which has a brass frame plated in palladium, uses a clasp crowned with a lapis lazuli sphere, cut and polished to fit inside a rotating ring, the same look found in Asprey’s Cosmic Orbit jewelry collection.
For the bag’s décor of roses on a leafy branch with an iridescent white background, Mr. Rigas arranged a collaboration with Genbei Yamaguchi, an award-winning obi maker and kimono designer in Kyoto, Japan. Mr. Yamaguchi is the chief executive of Kondaya Genbei, a maker and retailer of traditional kimonos and obi since 1738, which specializes in Hikihaku. The technique involves turning precious materials into threads and then weaving them into various forms; it traditionally has been used for kimonos and obi.
Each of the bag’s decorative elements began with a different material: The roses, lapis lazuli; the leaves and branch, silver; and the background, mother-of-pearl.
But the process was similar for all three. Once the material was either broken down or pounded into thin sheets, it was applied to washi paper (made of bark) and the combination then cut into strips 0.05 centimeters (0.02 inches) thick. The strips were then woven together by hand, sometimes with other threads, to create the final fabrics.
“This production had to be approached from a different perspective to that of weaving the obi,” Mr. Yamaguchi wrote in an email. “Considering that the clutch bag was to be hand-held, the mother-of-pearl inlays were made even thinner than usual. To express the royal blue color, mineral lapis lazuli was made into fine particles.”
He wrote that six artisans, including draftsmen, patternmakers and weavers, worked on the bag.
The clutch, limited to 15 pieces, is 20 centimeters (almost eight inches) wide and comes with a detachable chain shoulder strap. It is priced at 16,000 pounds (about $19,750) and is available for pre-order from early December at Asprey’s London flagship store at 36 Bruton Street.
“Each piece is a tribute to the skill and dedication of craftspeople who breathe life into ancient techniques in a contemporary context,” Mr. Rigas wrote. “It is the union of British elegance and Japanese tradition.”