Alte Art is relatively unknown, even though one founder is one of the pioneers of the thriving Japanese bespoke shoe scene, and the brand has been around for almost two decades. And despite the fact that they create very well-made bespoke shoes, and also some of the most inspiring and fascinating art shoes I have ever seen.


In the bespoke shoe world, there are several actors who are not only attracted by the craftsmanship, the challenge of fit and general shoe design, but who are also attracted by taking the latter to new levels. People who have shoes as a creative channel. Noriyuki Misawa who I have written about earlier is a good example, Christophe Corthay another, Clematis Ginza a third. Alte Art is another such example.

Osamu Egawa and Mami Tsurukasi.

Saxophone shoes, which as all instrument shoes are fully playable.

A kind of combination of double shoes and ghillies lace-up, in deep dark green shade. As is often the case with Alte Art’s bespoke shoes, they have a slightly different design, but are still very wearable.

Behind the brand are the married couple Osamu Egawa and Mami Tsurukasi. Near the tourist attraction Tokyo Skytree, almost in the shadow of the 634 meter high TV tower on a small street with residential buildings, there’s an insignificant small place behind glass doors, where the least insignificant shoes you can imagine are found. Here you have shoes that contain a miniature LP player in one toe and a speaker in the other, shoes with functioning violins built in, shoes with self-playing small pianos in the toe, boots crossed with a harp, real boats (which can float), and so on. The creativity is huge, and a lot of it is obviously about music, since both Osamu and Mami are great music lovers, not least of American and British 60-70s rock.
– We have come up with so many different ideas over the years, and realised many of them. But lately it has been more calm, the ideas have slowed down a bit, says Osamu Egawa.

The fantastic boots with built-in LP recorder is turned on under one of the heels.

Inside you find the battery package.

You connect the two boots with the lacing, as the LP player is in one shoe, the speaker and the battery in the other.

The miniature LP player, which works just as a regular player.

See a film showing how the shoes work below:

Because they have been around for a long time. Osamu was co-founding the brand Guild of Crafts in 1996 with Chihiro Yamaguchi, and was one of the pioneers of the new wave of bespoke shoemakers in Japan. He left 18 years ago, and together with Mami Tsurukasi he started Alte Art. The art shoes are just a hobby, the everyday work is as traditional bespoke shoemakers. Although the creativity shines through here as well, looking at the samples that stand on the shelves there are some traditional models, but many are their own types of models and gorgeous, different designs.
– Most of our customers like this type of shoes, slightly special but still wearable. That’s why they found us, says Mami Tsurukasi.

A type of oxford with hidden lacing.

Nice contrasting sole stitching.

A traditional model.

The shoes are really well made, both closing and making are on a high level, often with nice details such as contrasting sole stitching. You can see some similarities with Guild of Crafts, even if Alte Art have a style of its own.
Production is small. The couple makes between 40-50 pairs a year, all are full bespoke. The price level is impressively low, hand-stitched full bespoke with machine-sewn sole stitch and square waist starts at only about €1,150 (140,000 yen), fully handmade with a bevelled waist starting at €1,800 (220,000 yen). A very interesting maker in other words, which deserves more attention than they have received so far.

Comparison of the completely handmade bespoke shoes on the left, and the slightly cheaper version with machine-made sole stitch and square waist on the right.

Here a single monkstrap has been combined with ghillies lacing.

Nice sole.

Grand piano shoes.

The piano in one of the toes is playing by itself.

Film showing the piano playing:

Shoe and harp in one.

Really lovely crafted backside, inspired by how real harps are designed.

Boat shoes, which can float and be worn (not at the same time though, unfortunately).


…and upper, which might look a bit rough at first sight.

It’s simply because it’s miniature shoes. Here small versions together with their ordinary sized siblings.

More minature models, also both sneakers and norvegese stitched.

Measurements taken for a client.

Test shoes, made to help easily finding a good fit.

Plastic lasts (the kind that can be rasped down) with leather attachments for modifying fit.

Three tone boots.

Special patina on this shoe.

Several of Alte Art’s customers are women, and they make many different types of women’s shoes..

Lovely derby.

More art shoes, here a drum kit.

One of my favourites, these violin shoes.

Of course fully working.

The heel can be removed…

…and become a bow.