A week ago the first edition of the Isetan Shoes Expo 2019 took place – a real shoe bonanza with all things men’s shoes. Apart from the two sessions I worked with them on – a talk about the World Championships in Shoemaking with the top trio, and the Shoe Shining Champion of Champions contest – loads of exhibitions and happenings took place. Here’s a summary.
Isetan Shoes Expo 2019 was held between 11-16th of September, in Isetan’s main building in their massive Shinjuku department store. Here in a large exhibition space you could find everything from newly launched shoes made specifically for this event by brands from all over the world, to old vintage bespoke shoes on display. You could find fully handmade art shoes – as well as 3D printed lasts made from digital scans of your feet. And so on.
On inauguration day we had a talk session where me and the top trio in the World Championships in Shoemaking – Daniel Wegan, Christophe Corthay and Eiji Murata – discussed the contest and their respective entries. Lots of people in the crowd, and it was a good talk which put the spotlight on the great impact this contest have had, both for bespoke shoemaking as a whole and for the participants taking the top spots.
On the exhibition floor there were various sections, where the world championship shoes were the ones greeting the visitors when they entered the space. Apart from this, my favourite spot in the venue was the Shoes garage, with both Japanese and international vintage shoes on display. As often is the case we could see some nice old bespoke shoes, but what was more interesting was a bunch of old RTW shoes on sale. High prices for sure, but some amazing stuff.
Another interesting section included various called Shoes Art Gallery. Noriyuki Misawa’s wonderful creations have been highlighted here on Shoegazing before, but here we could also see drawings by Bananayamamoto and the creative plant shoes made by Shoetree.
Next to this we found other different types of shoes, with the Shoes jungle, only exotics leather, with shoes made in among other things eel and rabbit leather.
Around ten shoe shining companies from both Japan and abroad offered their services to the visitors, and you could stash up on loads of various shoe care products.
Visitors at the event could have their feet scanned and see how lasts were printed by a 3D printer, by the brand Shoemaker the one, who offered both classic Goodyear welted shoes and sneakers made on these personalised lasts.
Another cool project was cheap black oxfords manufactured by two Japanese factories but designed by Japanese bespoke shoemakers, made especially for this event.
It was not only classic shoes, a bunch of sneaker brands exhibited, Gore Tex had a booth, and so on. You could literally found almost all things men’s shoes at the venue.
On Saturday September 14 the main happening at the stage area took place, with the Shoe Shining Champion of Champions. The contest included the three world champions, Yuya Hasegawa (2017), John Chung (2018) and Yuta Sugimura (2019), plus one invited Japanese champion, Go Ishimi, Swedish champion, Michael Håkansson (2018), and Russian champion Anton Tsypin (2018). It was quite spectacular, as they were shining three pairs of shoes for 15 minutes each in front of a large crowd of around 500 people. First a black plain cap toe, then a cordovan plain toe derby and finally a black grain brogue. Even for these professionals it was a true challenge with this short time and a full pair, but some impressive results were shown. I was part of the jury, we had half of the voting power, the audience and instagram followers could also vote and had 50 per cent. In the end, the first world champion, Japanese Yuya Hasegawa of Brift H, also won this contest. It was tight, but a well-deserved winner. Check out a livestream from the event in this post.
The plan is to do this contest again in three years time, with a similar set-up. Looking forward to it already.