I’ve been fortunate enough to own a number of shoes from several Japanese bespoke shoemakers, and what continuously amaze me with these shoes are the exemplary execution of the making. Look at this shoe above by Yohei Fukuda as an example, see the flawless closing of the uppers, the perfectly trimmed and stacked heel, the immaculate blind welted waist, the precise sole stitching and welt finishing, and so on. One can make shoes differently than this – but one can’t basically make it better.
As I’ve written about before, Japanese bespoke shoemakers are certainly not the only ones who can reach this standard, but the concentration of makers with the skill and dedication needed to achieve it is higher there than anywhere else in the world. Add to that the fact that prices in general are good for bespoke shoes in Japan, compared to Western Europe, and it’s easy to understand what all the fuzz is about. The explanation to why this is, is obviously more difficult to establish. The Japanese mentality of pursuing excellence, the heritage with craftsmanship, the fact that it’s a big population are some explanations given. Either way, I sure look forward to once more be able to visit Japan in March next year and come up-close to all this again, after a too long haul due to the pandemic.
Difficult to disagree, though I think the common theme that comes up is obviously the difficulty of getting to the maker for multiple meetings.
Have you had any pairs by Masaru Okuyama? Simon from Permanent Style said he had recently relocated to London.
Sam: Yes of course, but trend is that more and more Japanese makers are doing trunk shows in Europe and the US (of course, stopped now during Covid but hope it will pick up again when things open up more).
Yes, he has moved permanently to London now, works out of South Kensington I believe. Have no personal experience, but he has a good reputation.
I happen to have experience with Mr. Okuyama, and I must say, his work is immaculate! I have 2 shoes from him and a third in the making and already planning my 4th. What I especially love is a truly blind waist like I’ve never seen done before. To achieve this but allow the shoe to keep its structure without collapsing with use, is the ingenious support inside. Anyway, as was mentioned, yes, I wholeheartedly agree that Japanese makers are a group of artisans unlike most. Another Japanese maker is Floriwonne who made a cap toe for me that’s blown me away. I have already requested a second one from him as well. Last note: none of these shoes have seen the pavement or out of doors. They’ve all been purchased during pandemic! I enjoy supporting them during these times.
Rodney Robles: Alright cool, glad to hear you’ve had positive experiences with both Okuyama and Floriwonne! And it’s indeed great with people like you who decide to support these makers at these times.