Shoe creator <TAKAFUMI ARAI>. The handcrafted shoes and art pieces he creates have a conceptual appeal that cannot be expressed in words, and a unique worldview. After mastering "shoe making" by self-taught and experiencing designing in the shoe department of an Italian apparel brand, in 2014 he won the "YKK Special Award" in the accessories category at "International Talent Support". Become. Since 2014, we have been confronting the values ​​that lie beyond the creation of good products (sustainability, which has recently become widespread in the fashion industry), and have continued to take on the challenge of creating further art pieces with a flexible will that is not bound by fixed ideas. . This time, TAKAFUMI ARAI's iconic products, ``quilt tongue'' and ``tassel,'' were produced under the double name of J.PRESS ORIGINALS. To commemorate the release, we conducted an interview for a pop-up event to be held at J.PRESS & SON'S AOYAMA on December 14th. Explore the thoughts that go into the work.

- When and from whom did you learn about shoe making and design?

Also, please tell us about your initial impulse or opportunity to start making shoes.

Arai (hereinafter referred to as A): ``I graduated from a fashion school called Kuwasawa Design Institute, but I have never studied shoemaking at a specialized institution, so I am more of a self-taught person.I started out as a craftsman at a shoe store. The knowledge I gained from visiting shoe stores and exhibitions not only in Japan, but also in England, Italy, and Germany, has shaped my current creations. I became interested in shoe making while attending a vocational school, and after class, I visited a shoe factory in Asakusa, caught up with the remaining craftsmen and those who were about to go home, and had various interactions with them. I learned a lot of knowledge and techniques.”

- Mr. Arai's shoes have a very original design and a unique presence, but please tell us about how he started making patchwork pieces by reusing so-called leftover leather, and if you have any thoughts. Please let me know.

A: “I think I had a big influence on it when I visited a leather tanner in Tuscany, Italy.In the process of tanning leather, they stubbornly follow the traditional methods passed down from their ancestors. When faced with this attitude and desire, I began to value the leather that I used to throw away when it was no longer needed, and as a designer I wanted to use materials effectively without wasting them, and with that belief. I continue to make them to this day.”

``Also, from the Industrial Revolution to the present day, we have lived in an era in which ``things'' have been produced in large quantities, and the speed of consumption has been accelerating. Especially in 2018-2019, I often see a lot of talk about sustainable and eco-friendly fashion trends. The situation has gotten so bad that it has even been taken up as a keyword in the fashion scene. I wonder how many places are actually achieving the goal of being sustainable and eco-friendly. I think it's meaningless unless consumer awareness changes, and I think it's just being used as a convenient keyword for "just selling things." To be honest, I'm fed up with and have doubts about these times, society, and fashion trends.

- In addition to designing and producing the shoes themselves, how did you start making "quilt tongues" and "tassels" to decorate the shoes you own?

A: ``It all started when I showed my shoes to Mr. Kurino of UNITED ARROWS. Some of my works include shoes with designs that use tassels, and at the same time, Mr. Kurino often wears kilts. I thought it would be great if it could be used by general customers.Then, we started talking about making it something we could sell, and we started making it.Now, there are more variations in the shape, and we are looking for people who can help us with the leather, and how to handle it. I think the number of stores where you can buy it will increase, and as a result, a cycle of high-quality production and consumption will be born, and we will be moving closer to a better society.”

- Please let us know if there are any themes or keywords that Arai has in mind when creating the “quilt tongue” and “tassel”.

A: ``I want to value people's consideration for things more and the time and effort that goes into making them.This series is made using leftover leather received from bag and shoe stores that handle leather.Leather Industry Dilemma Unlike cloth, leather cannot be purchased in meter units, allowing you to buy just the amount you want to use, and if it gets scratched, it becomes unusable.For these reasons, leather has no choice but to be discarded. There is a fact.The leather that you can get is not a large quantity of the same leather, and the color and quantity will differ from time to time.When we receive an order from the store and start making the quantity, we will choose the color of the leather and the sewing thread depending on our mood at that time. The colors and combinations will vary.One of the important design factors is the hand-sewn stitching. I believe this is an important element that cannot be replaced no matter how much technology develops. I want people to feel the warmth of hand-sewn stitches.”

- For customers who are picking up TAKAFUMI ARAI's "Quilted Tan" and "Tassel" for the first time, please tell us about the design features of this product and how to choose the best one for your shoes.

A: ``The color of the leather, the combination of leather, it's all one-of-a-kind.It's fun to choose at the store, and it's fun to go home and look in the shoe box and match it with your shoes.More than anything, I enjoy walking in the shoes even more. The quilts and tassels go well with a wide range of leather shoes and sneakers, so I hope you can wear them with your favorite shoes for a different feel, and have fun switching them up in your daily outfits.

TAKAFUMI ARAI >>> http://takafumiarai.tokyo/

SOURCE >>> https://www.tumblr.com/blog/jpress-originals