With the pandemic having the world in its grip for over a year, making it tough for already well-established shoe brands out there, one have to admire – and give support to – the ones who actually set out to start a new brand at this stake. Today I highlight three highly interesting makers of handmade footwear that just started their own brands: Hung Shoemaker from Taiwan, Siroeno Yosui from Japan, and Mogada from Germany.
Hung from Taiwan is a young talented maker, who quietly introduced his own brand Hung Shoemaker on Instagram last year, but already have started to create some buzz due the quite incredible finishing you get for the price. Hung started working in a Taiwanese shoe factory in 2016, a factory mainly making Goodyear welted shoes. He worked in a number of positions in the factory and learned a lot of the basics, and then in 2018 went on to study lastmaking and making shoes by hand at Accademia Riaci in Florence for one year. When finished there, he went to work for Yim Shoemaker in China, now a well established maker of MTO/MTM and bespoke shoes.
– At the beginning, I encountered some setbacks, things were challenging. But after I gained more experience and a better understanding of making handmade shoes, this sort of became a turning point in my shoemaking career, Hung says.
Last year he moved home to Taiwan to set up his own workshop and brand. Doing it during the pandemic means he has done most interactions with customers remote via social media, and a large part are international customers. One can see that he’s been inspired by his time at Yim, with similar modern, graceful lasts and making. What me and others have found most impressing is a really high level of the finishing, which is rare to find on shoes made by someone this new in the game. Just look at the pictures of welt and heels here, it’s certainly looking sharp.
At the moment Hung is only offering Made to Order shoes, hand welted, fully handmade sole stitching at 12 spi (stitches per inch) with blind welt waist (if not square waist is specified). Starting price is currently at just €800 / $950, with upcharges for split toe, fiddle back waist, tighter sole stitch, metal toe taps, shoe trees etc. Since he just has started he doesn’t have that many models to show yet, but he is up to solve designs together with the customer.
– Customers can see examples on my Instagram and we can further discuss the style they prefer and all the details including confirm the size of the shoes by using custom general guide and choose leather type and bottom design and so on. I want to make sure each customer have their own unique shoe made to their satisfactions, Hung says.
To be honest, if you are interested in his shoes, I would act rather fast. He is getting more and more attention, and with shoes to these specifications with this clean finishing, I don’t think he will keep these low prices for long and expect delivery times to increase a lot. To order contact him through his Instagram account.
Siroeno Yosui is a new bespoke shoemaker based in Tokyo, Japan, consisting of Ken Kataoka and Toshihide Takai. They met at the shoemaking school of Noriyuki Misawa where they studied in the same class, and straight after finishing school they found a place in the Arakawa district of Tokyo where they set up their own workshop. They describe their style as having its base in the British shoemaking tradition, but with a sense of originality coming from Japanese tradition.
– For example, our MTM model “Wan” is a derby shoe with hand-dyed Impala Calf uppers. It looks simple at first, but if you take closer look so you can see the depth of color is like Japanese pottery, says Ken Kataoka.
Setting up a new bespoke workshop during corona has certainly been special. But given the circumstances, they can’t really say if it’s been going well or not.
– I mean, we have nothing to compare it with. We have some new orders each month, which we are very happy about, but of course we’ve had no chance to meet foreign customers yet, which we really look forward to, Ken says.
Siroeno Yosui offers Made to Measure and full bespoke, only hand welted and handmade sole stitch. For now they have one model available for MTM (note, they call it MTO on their website), a lovely looking plain toe derby on an almond toe last, which you then can choose leather, sole type etc. and also do small design adjustments if wished. Another MTM model is soon to be introduced. Adjustments to the last is included, and a fitting shoe will be made to assess the fit and new modifications done before final shoe is made, delivery time about three months. Price for MTM is €1,050 (136,000 yen), that is including fitting shoes and shoe trees, certainly a good price for fully handmade Japanese shoe. For full bespoke shoes the price is €1,600 (211,000 yen) with at least one fitting and lasted shoe trees included. They are new to the game, which is why prices are so low, but judging on photos and some feedback I’ve heard from folks who have ordered you certainly get a lot for your money.
Mogada is the brand of Munich-based bespoke shoemaker Louis Lampertsdörfer. It’s a name that some might recognise. He was an apprentice and eventually worked as a bottom maker at the bespoke department of British brand Gaziano & Girling, and to get to work on customer shoes at G&G you certainly have to have some skill. He also showed this in placing sixth in the World Championships in Shoemaking 2019, in fierce competition. Louis background shows in his shoes, but he is looking at developing in his own direction.
– If you look at the samples I made you can still clearly recognise the influence that my apprenticeship at Gaziano Girling and being taught by Daniel Wegan had on me. It is a style I really adore and that will always stick with me I believe. But if I look into my sketchbook I can also see that I’m drawn towards a more contemporary style that is moving further away from the classics, Louis Lampertsdörfer says.
Apart from a line of MTO hand stitched leather accessories, it’s full bespoke shoes which is the focus. Prices start at €3,500 for calf or suede shoes, with an upcharge of €500 for the lastmaking and fitting shoes of the first order. Personally I really dig the lasts of Mogada, sleek asymmetric lines with a lot of character. The more customers he’ll get the more we will see of the style and make. Due to the pandemic, it’s for obvious reasons been a bit of a slow start with only domestic clients.
– Setting up a brand during the pandemic was kind of a two edged sword. On the one hand the lockdown gave me time to really prepare everything, work on my samples and prototypes. I maybe wouldn’t have had so much time if it wouldn’t have been for the lockdown so I tried to make the best of it. On the other hand not being able to travel and meet people or visit factories and tanneries slowed down everything a lot. But I try to make the most of it and I think starting a business in such an environment is a good lesson for the future, says Louis.