Toru Saito (I)

My mentor was Hiro Yanagimachi

Toru Saito (I)

IMG_0796What is your first memory on shoes?

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.DSC_0655

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’.IMG_0038

Did you have a Mentor? Who had the greatest influence on choosing your career?

Yes, my mentor was  Hiro Yanagimachi.IMG_0034 (1)

Which other shoemakers do you like?

I don’t have anyone in particular in mind, but I appreciate old classic Italian shoes.IMG_0026

What are the biggest challenges of nowadays shoemaking?

Pursuing originality.16114752_1887294734840870_6198674075768681712_n

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.DSC_0562

The key elements of a good shoe would be…

To draw out and highlight elements of the person wearing them.sample06 (1)

Are there any differences in terms of last between Asians and Europeans? Is it a Japanese specificity on shoes?

Yes, there is a difference. Generally speaking, the joint area of a Japanese person’s foot is broad and the heel is small. Therefore, the last we use is different to that used for Europeans.IMG_0050

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To be continued…