In the central parts of the shoemaking city Florence the self-willed Japanese Hidetaka Fukaya, aka Il Micio, has his showroom. He makes shoes with a very special look and is not afraid to experiment wildly. Shoegazing has paid him a visit.
Hidetaka Fukaya began his career in the shoe world under Shigetaro Matsuda at a shoe designer school in the Japanese city Nagoya. In the early 00’s he left Japan to develop himself further, and ended up in Italy and Sienna with bespoke shoemaker Alessandro Stella, well established but quite unknown for big masses. Here Fukaya joined as an apprentice for three years. The most common is then that you start to work for some of the more established of the Italians, or to return home to Japan to start your own business there. Hidetaka Fukaya instead in 2005 opened up his own workshop in Florence, known for its craft tradition and with a relatively large number of bespoke shoemakers in the city. Fairly quickly he created a name for himselves with his often very special creations under the name Il Micio, the cat.
Today Hidetaka Fukaya has a showroom north of the Arno River that goes through Florence, quite centrally located. Fukaya is wearing a white relatively dirty artist coat, on the tip of the nose is a pair of thick black glasses. Around the showroom are various cat sculptures, different accessories which he also manufactures are on display, and then there’s a high shelf with around 20 bespoke samples. At the top stands his most famous work, a light brown wholecut made on a last that looks like taken out of a Salvador Dali painting. Most who see it often reacts saying that it’s ugly and weird. This is really not relevant, it’s a shoe that is designed to challenge the aesthetic and the craftsmanship. The latter is what impresses me the most, to do this kind of shoe is very difficult.
Most of Hidetaka Fukaya’s other shoes are characterized by his particular style, with long, pointed and quite flat lasts and often special designs and leather choices. As often when looking at sample shoes meant for display the level of craftsmanship is a bit mixed, one can almost see which of them were made early in his career, and which are later works, when they reached a higher level. Overall, however, it is really nicely made shoes, delicate in its design and whether you appreciate the look or not, you can’t get away from its special character. Prices for bespoke starts at just €3 500.
Hidetaka Fukayas workshop is on the other side of the river in the old artisan district. He has a few employees and apprentices to help with the production, which consists of about 60-70 pairs of Il Micio bespoke shoes a year, plus a number RTW shoes sold under his own name Hidetaka Fukaya in the high fashion store Tomorrowland in Japan. It’s also only to Tokyo in Japan plus Seoul in South Korea that he travels for trunk shows today, and most of the clientele, also those in Italy, is international.