Presentation of the Hakimono project, which brings together ten Japanese leather goods houses specializing in the manufacture of durable, artisanal and functional shoes.
If you are told about Japan, you may think of cherry blossoms, ramen, manga or even Okinawa beach. Watch enthusiasts will also remind you that the archipelago is a past master in watchmaking, while clothing aficionados will cite Japanese denim brands. And indeed, Japan has whole craftsmanship in terms of clothing and more general style.
If you may already know the qualities of Japanese creations in terms of jeans or technical clothing, there may be an area where you do not expect them: shoes. For many generations, Japanese craftsmen have in fact developed know-how in the manufacture of leather shoes, and more generally in leather goods. The Land of the Rising Sun specialized early in this field. A quick glance at the outfits of Japanese warriors (the famous Samurai) tells us that their armour, hairstyles and scabbards were made of leather. Today, it is, therefore, no surprise that through this heritage we find brands that have specialized in products that combine technological innovation and traditional techniques.
In order to discover the Japanese brands specializing in the manufacture of these shoes, a project was born under the impetus of the Japanese Ministry of the Economy: Hakimono. Its name means “to walk with the feet”, it includes ten brands: Brightway, H. Kasukawa, Haruta, Kyoko Sausage, Numero Uno, O’ric, Shisei, Tokyo Sandal, U.No.5 and Yuko Imanishi.
Hakimono, meeting of Japanese shoe houses
Each of the houses that make up Hakimono has its own style and identity. But they have three values in common: durability, craftsmanship and functionality.
The houses found on the platform are several generations old. But they share the desire to create shoes that last over time, like the most recent ones like Yuko Imanishi+. Founded in 2011 in Tokyo by its eponymous designer, the brand notably offers a pair made from vegetable leather. Another house called O’Ric offers another model designed according to a Bolognese assembly, which ensures flexibility and comfort, using responsibly sourced leather. Another older brand, Haruta, founded more than a century ago, uses recycled polyester to make shoes waterproof and light. She also uses puffer fish leather, which is usually discarded.
The brands found on Hakimono also share in common the concern for craftsmanship, always mixed with technical progress. Thus, the Kyoko Sausage house combines a multidisciplinary approach in its creations. It mixes artistic designs directly drawn from the animal and plant world while including in its shoe designs resulting from ergonomic studies as well as materials selected for their particular qualities (such as Washi fabric which has antibacterial properties). Hakimono also has a brand called Brightway, which has been producing its creations for almost 50 years. She always makes her soles by hand so that they perfectly match the anatomy of their future buyer, with local materials and craftsmen.
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Selection of shoes within the Hakimono collective
H. Katsukawa is a high fashion, urban lifestyle leather shoe house. It combines craftsmanship with technology. It was founded by the eponymous designer after his time in the workshop of the great English shoemaker Paul Harnden. The shoes are made of Nibe leather, whose irregular texture creates a unique visual effect.
Haruto is a century-old brand, originally launched to provide quality footwear for middle and high school students. It produces its famous moccasins in Ecopet, a material made from recycled polyester that makes the shoes lighter, but also waterproof and easy to clean.
Numero Uno is a brand that recognizes itself through its genderless and timeless collections. Its collections are developed in different models in unconventional leather. Recent projects include a deerskin collection. Indeed, in recent decades, the drastic reduction in the use of leather and the consumption of fallow deer meat has led to an uncontrolled proliferation of wild fallow deer in Japan.
To provide a solution to this problem and always with the aim of using materials that are widely available and little used, the brand has decided to launch a new collection whose design is adapted to the specific characteristics of buckskin.
Yuko Imanishi is a brand born in 2011 in Tokyo. She was particularly noticed by an original model including a moulded rubber insole. The uppers (top of the shoe) are made of eco-leather and made with vegetable dyes whose design is supported by Mana, a brand dedicated to women’s shoes.
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