An Interview with Vietnamese bespoke shoemaker Lee Trung, aka Ichigoichie Shoemaker

Lee Trung, the Vietnamese bespoke shoemaker, aka Ichigoichie Shoemaker was introduced to me by Instagram KOL Thunder_March, except his shoes are finely made, the artful expression is also impressive.

There are several rising Vietnamese bespoke shoemakers, and I feel Lee Trung is very understated but truly enjoying the crafts itself.

It is a great honour to have this interview with him.

Could you introduce yourself more such as hometown, hobby and education?

I was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – the bridge connecting East and West Southern Vietnam.

My hobbies include shoes, reading, photography, volleyball, and action movies.

I graduated from Ho Chi Minh City University of Science with a Bachelor’s Degree in IT.

How did the name Ichigoichie shoemaker come from?

Throughout the time I spent living and working in Japan, I learned a lot of their proverbs this is one of my favorite.

Ichi-go ichi-e (Japanese: 一期一会) “one time, one meeting” is a Japanese four-character idiom (Yojijukugo) that describes a cultural concept of treasuring the unrepeatable nature of a moment. The term has been translated as “for this time only”, and “once in a lifetime”. The term reminds people to cherish any gathering that they may take part in, citing the fact that any moment in life cannot be repeated; even when the same group of people get together in the same place again, a particular gathering will never be replicated, and thus each moment is always a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The concept is most commonly associated with Japanese tea ceremonies, especially tea masters Sen no Rikyū and Ii Naosuke. (From Wikipedia)

An event can only happens once and once only. I adore each and every single one of my customer and always strive to create a product representing my best possible.

What is your learning experience on bespoke shoemaking?

I was introduced to bespoke shoemaking via a famous shoemaking workshop in Japan. There, I was astounded by their top-level masterpieces. I was even more curious and decided to sign up for shoemaking classes, this happened a bit more than 5 years ago.

During this course, I learned all about the traditional hand-made process from 2 master craftspeople (1 male, 1 female) in Moge workshop. The process includes lastmaking/adjusting, pattern designing and grading, most importantly, I absorbed their meticulous attention to the details from my female instructor.

The powerful and highly technical tasks of handlasting, handwelting, handstitching, heel building, and finishing were taught by my male instructor.

I also learned a lot from vintage shoemaking books, and am addicted to quality vintage tools namely EA Berg, Erik Anton Berg Eskilstuna Sweden, Eduard Brinkman German…etc.

I only had time to learn shoemaking during the weekend, the more I learn the more I become passionate about it. I feel that this meticulous, slow, but rewarding craft is very de-stressing, I enjoy life much more and my creativity is really elevated.

I adore traditional handcrafting. I find it interesting like it was destined that I decided to turn this into my full-time passion. (Could I have been a shoemaker in my previous life? ^_^ ) 

I heard a statement that there is no housestyle or personal style(last) of a bespoke shoemaker as he only meets the requirement of a customer. Do you agree?

Take penmanship and calligraphy as an example , Tang Yin (唐寅, Chinese painter) is among the most appreciated of all for his distinctiveness and cleanliness.

Same to shoemaking, the foundation is that bespoke shoemaker(s) can and need to create well fitting shoes, listen and satisfy a client’s needs.

While the foundation remains, each and every maker will expresses their own signature which discerning client can distinguish easily.

I think, a client places an order with a specific maker thanks to that maker’s signature.

Where do you get inspiration for pattern design?

From magazines, and natural elements in life…such as Kai idea design from the 6th stages of 8 stages in Kyudo Hassetsu..

What do you care most when communicating with customers?

I think of my customers as my friends, I listen to their requests, ideas, and preferences.

Could you list three models most appreciated?

■Captoe Oxford
And this pair take a lot of time I made for @thunder_march.

Fully handmade included #12spi hand stitched upper.

■split toe 2 eyelet derby mix with elephant appron

■Kai loafer

Many emphasize the craftsmanship and fineness of handwork in a pair of bespoke shoes but neglect the beauty of skeleton and colour, how do you feel about this?

I believe a pair of bespoke shoes needs the following: the proportional design, pleasing colors combination, and excellent execution. In order to satisfy all of those elements, I always learn and improve my craft because there’s no limit to learning and creativity, that’s why I love this craft.

How do you see the current bespoke shoemaking industry, if it can be called an industry?

This is a difficult question for me, as I don’t have exact data and information, bespoke shoes are immensely popular in Europe especially in England, France, and Italy. Bespoke shoes are custom shoes that are made for a certain customer by a shoemaker. Within the past decade, Japanese bespoke shoes became extraordinarily popular not only in Japan but also internationally.

I think it can be called an industry, typically Japan there were only 3 bespoke shoemakers in Tokyo in 2008 but now the nation has about 100 plus and 40 of them in Tokyo.

How can we order shoes from you?

Web :
Page :
IG :

Directly via email: [email protected]

■Price and delivery time as of July 2022:

RTW/MTO are to be launched soon!

Remote MTM start from 1500 usd(6 months)
Bespoke start from 2500 usd the first pair
2000usd for each consecutive pair (12 months)