Japanese-born but Milan-based shoe designer Yuji Miura was recently among the eight finalists in the accessory category of the second edition of the “Who Is On Next?” competition (for menswear) that took place during the Pitti trade fair.
Miura's shoes are entirely made in Italy, but, behind them there is an entirely Japanese concept.
"Usually when designers think about creating something they tend to add things. Instead I started eliminating things, stripping footwear down to the minimum, detracting different elements from each pair of shoes. I started from the seams, then eliminated other sections and divided the collection in different stages – minus one, two, three and four."
Miura's collection includes fifteen different models and the two images in this post represents the "Minus One" and "Minus Four" stages of his stripping down process.
A passion for avant-garde inspired instead Eiichi Katsukawa to become a footwear designer.
In his college years Katsukawa worked in sales at a leading specialist store in Tokyo.
After graduating he moved with a Japanese shoe company, planning sales.
As his obsession and passion for handcrafted shoes grew, he moved to Northampton, a city famous for its shoe-making heritage, where he studied shoe design and production method at the Tresham Institute.
“I respect a lot Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo and I wanted to become a designer like her," Katsukawa told me when I saw him at the Pitti.
After an internship at Canadian tailor and shoemaker Paul Harnden in Brighton he moved back to Japan where he started designing shoes while working at the men's shoe repair factory of the Shinjuku-based Isetan department stores.
Four years ago Katsukawa launched his footwear brand, H?Katsukawa from Tokyo, and his first collection and, from then on, he designed two collections of men's shoes a year.
His latest collection features classic men's footwear with avant-garde prints of stars and dots and also includes his "Nibe" brogues and boots in reversed cowhide.
“All the shoes are made in Japan and the ones with stars and dots are hand-printed. Making them feels a bit like playing at being Andy Warhol!” he explained me.