5 May 2016

Shoes cost more than the latest tech gadget

From New Zealand Society, 3:30 pm on 5 May 2016
Clematis Ginza hand made shoes displayed at Olveston House in Dunedin.

Clematis Ginza hand made shoes displayed at Olveston House in Dunedin. Photo: Sonia Sly

How much attention do you pay to your feet and what is the cost of wearing bad shoes?  Shoes have been getting cheaper and shoddier and according to a Japanese master cobbler our feet are paying the price. Footwear designer Takano Keitaro says he sees more damage to people’s feet today than ever before.

“In Japan there has been a history of wearing Geta [wooden sandals] and the little toe sticks out, so that has been a problem,” he says.

Takano cites swelling as a repercussion of wearing poorly made or fitted shoes. His apprentice Chiemi Chiba adds, “Bad shoes create pain and the person compensates in the way that they walk, which can add to the problem.”

Clematis Ginza shoes served up on a platter at Olveston House in Dunedin.

Clematis Ginza shoes served up on a platter at Olveston House in Dunedin. Photo: Sonia Sly

The Tokyo-based designer works alongside his apprentice and produces collections that can be bought off the rack. He also makes bespoke orders, but if you want the perfect pair of shoes tailor-made to fit your feet then you could be waiting for up to a year. The designer works on several pairs of shoes at once, as well as running his business, Clematis Ginza.

When producing custom orders Takano makes an initial pair of 'trial shoes' as a mock-up to ensure the correct fit, because any mistakes in the final pair can be costly.

Clematis Ginza sample shoes.

Clematis Ginza sample shoes. Photo: Sonia Sly

While training under a master craftsman 18 years ago, Takano says he ruined a pair of shoes: “ I once cut the insole leather and that was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.”   Takano has never repeated the mistake again, but his absolute attention to detail and the application of finely honed traditional craftsmanship comes at a cost.

In the game of luxury where money is no obstacle, you get what you pay for.

Clematis Ginza shoes sell upwards of $1,300 and reach $13k, which is more than the cost of the latest tech gadget, but if, as Takano Keitaro  says, buying a pair of bespoke shoes will ensure the preservation of your feet and maybe even your health, then your feet might thank you for it.

Listen to the audio story where Sonia Sly talks more in-depth with Takano Keitaro and Chiemi Chiba about the craft of shoemaking.