The shoe department at Isetan Men’s in Tokyo is often called shoe heaven, with over 1,000 shoe models on display. The department has been highly influential on the men’s shoe scene in Japan, and abroad. Hear the head buyer Takashi Fukuda talk about this topic, about how they work when bringing in new brands, how they are going to keep its relevance in the increasingly digital world, and more.

 

Takashi Fukuda. Picture: Isetan

Takashi Fukuda has been the head buyer of the shoe department at Isetan Men’s for many years, and has been highly influential on what can been found on the shoe shelves at Isetan Men’s.

Isetan is a Japanese chain of department stores, with it’s huge flagship store in Shinjuku in central Tokyo. There they have one building dedicated to women’s fashion and more, and one whole building with only men’s clothing and accessories. The shoe department of Isetan Men’s is likely the largest one in the world when it comes to quality shoes. It is an incredible place for shoe lovers, with everything from low-end Blake stitched shoes up to some of the best bespoke shoes in the world, and everything in between. I usually travel to Japan and Tokyo once a year, and the first day I arrive I always head directly to Isetan Men’s to browse the shelves and to see what’s new since my last visit.

Shoes, shoes, shoes.

For makers of quality shoes, not just Japanese but from all over the world, Isetan Men’s is the single most prestigious store to be represented at. They have a huge impact on what will be popular among the Japanese, which together with the US is the largest market for quality shoes there is. And since other stores and shoe agencies from around the world always have an eye at Isetan Men’s, what is found here often quickly get traction also in Europe, the US and elsewhere as well.

To name couple of examples, the popular U and F lasts which made the Hungarian brand Vass big was developed for Isetan Men’s, who took in the Italian bespoke shoemaker Roberto Ugolini to design them. And the popular Spanish/Chinese brand Meermin was first sold at Isetan Men’s, before being introduced in Europe and elsewhere.

So, I sat down to talk with Takashi Fukuda about the impact that Isetan Men’s has had on the shoe industry in Japan, and abroad, how they work when bringing in new brands, and how they are going to keep its relevance in the increasingly digital world. Takashi Fukuda isn’t the best English speaker, hope for leniency, but I’m sure you’ll find it a good listen anyway.

Listen to the episode below, or in your preferred podcast player. All episodes of the Shoegazing Podcast can be found here. If you like the podcast, please give it a good rating or comment in your podcast player.