Nowadays, people regards shoes as the normal and call cordwainers shoemakers, but when we look at John Lobb’s full name, and into the history, Bootmaker is the truly heritage.
T.Shirakashi Bootmaker is so devoted to boot making, and his masterpieces are elegant and classical.
It is a great honour to talk with him and know his journey and concept of being a bootmaker.
Could you introduce yourself.
Hello, everyone. My name is Tetsuya Shirakashi, a Japanese shoemaker. I’m 52 years old from Fukushima Prefecture in the North East region of Japan.
Fukushima is a land of rich nature, and I grew up fishing in mountain streams every day.
When did you fall in love with shoes and how?
I used to work for an IT company in Tokyo as the section manager of the design department.
I like suits and shoes, and when I was 36 years old, I ordered a pair of bespoke shoes for Guild of crafts (Chihiro Yamaguchi), and I loved the process of creating my ideal shoes through consultation with the maker, and the comfort of the finished shoes, which made me want to work in this field.
How did the transition from liking shoes to making shoes happen? Where did you learn shoemaking and who are your mentors?
I quit the company and founded an IT company, and while earning an income as the owner, I went to a shoe school for two years to learn the basics.
After that, I was able to apprentice myself to Yohei Fukuda, who had returned from England and started his own brand. It was there that I first encountered hand made English shoes and Bespoke, and I was fascinated to learn about them.
Mr. Fukuda, continues to provide me with advice on management and branding.
Which shoemakers do you admire most?
That is, of course, Yohei Fukuda.
I respect him not only as a craftsman but also as a great person.
Why do you think are there so many bespoke shoemakers in Japan and they are all at very high level?
Japanese people are naturally good with their hands and are good at making things. In addition, from ancient times, the pursuit of a single thing, such as Sado (tea ceremony), Kadoh (flower arrangement), or Shodo (calligraphy), has been likened to a ” Way,” and people have trained themselves to master their skills.
As Western culture came in and changed the way of life and the things we wear, the things we are passionate about have expanded to include more than just traditional Japanese culture.
One of them is shoemaking. There are many craftspeople who have mastered the correct manufacturing method, established their own style, and aim for even better products.
What is your housestyle?
Following the British way of shoemaking, the house style is the classic ankle boots that used to be the mainstream.
That is largely separated into 2 kinds.
1. Country style boots
2. Dress style boots
The theme is to make boots that are not tiring to wear for long periods of time and are useful tools to support the body like a sofa or a bed.
Clients normally wait 8 to 12 months for his shoes, how do you feel about this long time waiting?
This may seem like a very long time for people today who are used to fast fashion. However, Bespoke makes shoes just for each customer. It takes a long time to make a pair of shoes for each client, because every step of the process is done by hand, using all of one’s skills.
We hope that our clients will enjoy the waiting period as the best part of Bespoke.
What is your plan for the near future?
Once the negative effects of the corona virus have subsided, we hope to hold trunk shows overseas.
I would also like to add more models to the recently released MTO. I have a lot of shoe designs that I want to make. I am very excited to think about it.
Please say something to Chinese shoe lovers.
I would like shoe lovers in China to take a look at the shoes I make. I am sure that you will understand the feelings I put into my shoes even though we speak different languages.
Bespoke Boots / $3547~ Delivery time : 6 to 8 months
Bespoke Shoes / $3171 ~ Delivery time : 6 to 8 months
MTO Shoes / $1812~ Delivery time : 3 to 4 months