I try my very best to show deference to shoemaking tradition, while at the same time, as a person living in the 21st century, I also try to create shoes that reflect our ‘current generation’.
How many artisans do you currently have at your shop?
In bespoke shoemaking is the customer always right?
What’s the scariest man shoe trend that you see today and what is the trends that you like/dislike most?
Regarding the scariest man shoe trend, ‘elegant’ shoes; or if I were to use a more critical term, I would say the trend of ‘dainty/feebly’ or ‘delicate’ men’s shoes. I particularly dislike trends that focus purely on design, and in the process ignore comfort and fit.
What golden advice you have for an apprentice dreaming of becoming a bespoke shoemaker?
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
What was the most challenging project so far?
What shoe would you like to make in the future that you have not yet made?
I would like to create a masterpiece that will be synonymous with a ‘Japanese style’ of shoe, just as distinctive as British and Italian shoes.
What shoe style do you prefer the most?
What are your favorite places to spend your evenings?
In my living room at home.
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
This is enough, or this will do
What turns you on (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)?
The four seasons of Japan.
What turns you off?
What is your favorite curse word?
I like adding the phrase ‘baka-yarou’ (lit. you idiot) to the end of sentences just as Japanese film director Takeshi Kitano is known to use to hide embarrassment. I like the connotation of this phrase as Director Takeshi Kitano uses it in ‘Kikujiro’.
What sound or a noise do you love?
What profession would you not like to do?
Machinery based work.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
My first memory regarding shoes is of having a pair of sneakers bought for me when I was an elementary school student. I hadn’t owned anything made of leather prior to that, and I remember how appealing I found the gleam from the leather when I polished it.
How did you catch the shoe virus?
Prior to becoming a shoemaker, I worked in sales. As a salesman, I learned that “capable workers do not neglect their feet”. And the more I became aware of people’s feet/footwear, the more I was drawn in and enchanted by the world of shoes. I was almost 30 years of age when I decided to become a shoemaker. I thought of the life that lay before me, and decided that I wanted to work doing something that I could spend the rest of my life doing exhaustively. And when I was thinking of all of this, the most natural answer that arose in my mind was that ‘I want to be a shoemaker’.
Did you have a Mentor? Who had the greatest influence on choosing your career?
Yes, my mentor was Hiro Yanagimachi.
Which other shoemakers do you like?
What are the biggest challenges of nowadays shoemaking?
What memories do you have of your first order?
I got my first order when I was still preparing to launch my business. We spoke, and although I didn’t even have a pair of sample shoes to show, the customer kindly ordered a pair from me. I believe that at time, the customer did not make a judgement based on a pair of shoes that they would get, but rather, I myself was being evaluated. I was incredibly happy. And that customer continues to order shoes from me.
The key elements of a good shoe would be…
Are there any differences in terms of last between Asians and Europeans? Is it a Japanese specificity on shoes?
The whole process starts with taking measurements. We do that for both feet naturally because they are often different from each other. When a customer have an orthopaedic problems we suggest adjustments in order to improve comfort and minimize the problem. We choose the model of the shoes, it usually is one of the models we got in our store – or, rarely, choose something from the catalogues. The main point of this part is the choice of type and colour of the leather. Customers can choose from over 100 options but if that is still not enough we are able to get absolutely every leather in a very short time. During the first few days we work on the last. The master shapes them using special tools. When the last is finished the leather goes to the upper maker (finisher) who actually makes the shoe. Using uppers, four kinds of leather, two types of glue, wooden pins and wax the shoemaker creates a unique pair of shoes. He needs approximately a week to ten days to finish it. When shoes are perfectly dry we take the last out and finish the inner side. In accordance with the width of the feet we choose proper pair of shoe trees and leave the shoes for finishing and polishing. After three to four weeks shoes are ready to pick up. If needed, they can be delivered anywhere in the world. Prices for a bespoke pair for man, made of calf leather start at 2600-3600PLN (£500-£700; €650-€900)…
It’s easy to fall in love with a pair of oxfords, particularly if you’re browsing for shoes online. They’re naturally sleek, with minimally detailed uppers that give the shoes a sense of formality. And for many people, dressing up is the same as dressing well. Derbies by comparison can get lost in the mix, but I find them infinitely more practical. Like most men, I rarely wear suits. And for daily use, oxfords just look off to me with sport coats and trousers – even worse with jeans. They’re simply too formal.
When it comes to derbies, none make my heart pitter patter as much as the Norwegian split toe. I love them for both their design and how much they repulse others. It’s true they can look a bit taxidermic. And if done poorly, an elongated toe seam can even seem phallic. When everything comes together well, however, nothing looks as good to me. Wingtips are too common; cap toes too plain. Norwegian split toes plant your feet in the ground and say you like something a little different.
Apparently, the style has some workwear roots. John Lobb of St. James calls the style a Navvy cut for how they used to be worn by British navigational engineers (or navvies for short). Nicholas Templeman, who used to work as a lastmaker at the company, tells me men used to wear them when … Read full story here.