Handbags and Gladrags


Exploring a Japanese cultural phenomenon, Amy Walsh discovers the style and practicality of Furoshiki: a simplistic, fun and creative style

What do Muji, Manga and Furoshiki have in common?  They’re all minimalist, stylised, innovative – and, of course, Japanese. The word furoshiki means a square-shaped piece of cloth, which has for centuries in Japanese culture has provided a practical means of carrying everyday items. More recently due to its eco-friendly nature, Furoshiki has undergone a revival, with this traditional Japanese wrapping cloth is now used to wrap everything from picnic lunches to laptops. The evolution of the Furoshiki cloth has lent itself to a modern day fashion phenomenon beginning in Japan and stretching across the world: the Furoshiki bag.


The idea of a Furoshiki bag is as simple as it is ingenious. A square piece of fabric undergoes a series of straightforward folds and knots – and before you know it, you have a bag. The illustrated templates for these bags are widely available and are so simple. There is only one specific knot to be mastered, the Ma–musubi knot. The templates incorporate every type of bag you could think of, from the humble shoulder bag to the practical student sack.

Ordinarily, as style savvy students, we dress ourselves paying due consideration to co-ordination, colour and overall effect, yet all too often our bags can let us down. An expensive commodity, it is impractical to suppose that we should have a perfectly matching bag for every carefully chosen outfit we construct – after all, the nature of fashion dictates that what is ‘in’ is never ‘in’ for long.  The demands on the perfect bag are many – size, functionality, durability, colour and style. Here Furoshiki bags pull out all the stops. Using Furoshiki, you can cheaply produce as many personalised bags as you wish. It gives you the power to design, manufacture and accessorise your own bags, in the cheapest and most eco-friendly way possible. You can’t go wrong.

Your fabrics can be as eclectic, classic or original as your own style demands, with steely metallics, unapologetic neons, subtle pastels or playful prints. Additional accessories can further challenge your imagination; anything from vintage brooches to lace flowers will add a little something to your avant garde enterprise. Materials can be sourced from practically anywhere: charity shops, scarves sourced from the high street, or more specialised fabric shops like Murphy Sheehy’s in the city centre. These bags can be as wonderfully cheap or as intricately expensive as you choose. Your own individual style will become a canvas for original fashion musings.

Furoshiki bags are an opportunity to explore, evoke, and exhibit your own personal style – so take the leap and get creative!