Thursday, 17 May 2012

A visit to The Shoe of Life


"I express the avant-garde style with new viewpoints and the day-to-dayness as enjoyments by creating a form of shoes. The essence of that form is intangible love" purred Eiichi Katsukawa from behind his stand at Pitti Uomo Seventy Eight. The designer Katsukawa first fell in love with footwear when he worked in the shoe repair department at the Japanese retailer Isetan and the romance is proving to be a life long affair. Now focussed on his own collection of handmade shoes, his carefully crafted offering is growing with each passing season. Under the moniker H? Katsukawa from Tokyo, he makes hand made, eye poppingly colourful shoes, along with wonderfully textured distressed Nibe leather brogues from his studio in Tokyo. From the moment I first encountered his stand at Pitti Uomo, his leather creations never fail to raise a wry smile whilst causing a lustful glint my eyes. His love must be contagious.

For Katsukawa shoes should be enjoyed and loved rather than merely worn. As evident as this attitude is during the trade show season, I jumped at the chance to visit the craftsman at is store and repair shop, The Shoe Of Life. Located in a small (little more than six feet wide and twenty feet long) but perfectly formed space on a bustling street in Ohashi, Katsukawa and fellow cobbler breathe fresh life in to around fifty pairs of shoes per day. As I snapped away at the pair buried in leather, polish and all manner of soles, the shared passion was obvious and a delight to document...

It was a pleasure to watch two cobblers at work in such a tight space.

In addition to its main function as a repair shop and despite space being at a premium, The Shoe of Life also acts a mini showroom for H? Katsukawa from Tokyo and sales point for a variety of brand and shoe related paraphernalia. Alongside old favourites including the wonderfully distressed and texture rich Nibe leather brogues, an injection of more casual options for the new season that seem to merge loafers with desert boots and bowling shoes were all on show. Now, Katsukawa believes that good shoe design involves an intriguing balance of four elements; material, shape, pattern and style. Currently, the shoe designer is shift his focus from material and on to shape and style. The results are as special as anything before. Below are just a few of the styles that caught my wanting eye...

A few of the H? Katsukawa from Tokyo styles that caught my eye alongside a closer look at Katsukawa's nibe leather.

1 comment:

CJ PRODIGY said...

Love the shoes and accessories. I also love the respect he has for his work. Again I love the shoes.


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