Shota Akiyoshi: The next new school cool shoe designer

Reflekt Magazine gets to chat with upcoming shoe designer Shota Akiyoshi from Japan who is currently based in NYC. His designs are a sleek mix of street and chic. I know that sounds like such a cliche term now but its really true. They're even Muse approved by Reflekt Muse Cherise Shikai! "Woah! Verrry cool! His stuff is great, would want it alll" His amazing shoes aren't available yet in stores but we couldn't wait to get in this guy's brain behind his process and design inspirations which stem from his homeland to the energetic streets of New York City.

 

What is the inspiration behind your namesake shoe brand?

I get my inspiration from street culture mostly in NYC. I would describe my style as modern, well-crafted, minimal but at the same time has a rustic artisanal flare. I'm inspired by my discoveries at vintage flea markets. "Wabi Sabi" inspires me. Street art and graffiti inspires me. Music inspires me.

Does Japanese Fashion influence your design?

Yes it does! Since I left Tokyo, I have a new appreciation for Japanese fashion and my own culture. Japanese people know how to be not just in style or with trends, but they present their own unique style and fashion. Every now and then, people on the street or in a store will ask me where I get my shoes or some clothes from and I reply, "It's Japanese."

Describe your process?

Before I start designing, I make image boards, then I decide what colors and materials to use based on what I've been feeling on the streets. Then I cute out my design on paper, and apply it to a shoe last. Then pattern making, sewing, lasting, and finalizing the product. Everything is done by hand.

What are your favourite shoes? (Any brand)

My favourite shoes are Visvim, Kris van Assche, and Vans.

What is the worst or ugliest shoes a man or woman could wear in your opinion?

In my opinion the worst shoes someone could wear are Crocs. The shape is tacky and the material makes them look and feel cheap. (A few months ago a Japanese friend of mine came to visit me after traveling around the world for a few weeks. I was so excited to see him but I couldn't believe he came wearing a pair of white Crocs. I told him they were ridiculous. not only they were Crocs but they were fake Crocs. OMG.

How do you feel about the American idea of "Japanese Cool?"

I really don't know what "Japanese Cool" means. If I had to answer, I;d say that Japanese people know how to blend the best things about other cultures with our own culture. We not only borrow, but we respect the greatest things about other cultures from food, to fashion, to music. A few examples I can think of: hip hop culture, jeans, and curry. We don't just like any hip hop, we like 90's hip hop. Japanese people didn't like just any kind of denim, they knew Levis were good in the 1950's; and we didn't just try to replicate Indian curry, we mixed it with soy sauce and made it our own and put it on chicken.

You also do street art. Do you combine your two loves of street art and shoes?

Yes, I love the NYC street art scene. I paint shoes on walls, but I haven't combined street art into my shoe collection because I want my shoes to show the classic, sophisticated side of my personality. in the future, however I'm planning to collaborate with an upcoming street artist and apply it to a new series of shoes I will make.

Where can we get these sick ass shoes from?

In the future you';; be able to get them.. Right now I'm in the phase of making a few prototypes by hand in my apartment. it has been a process to save money for my machines and materials. hopefully through a kickstarter campaign I can raise funds to get in my shoes in production. my dream is that soon people can wear my shoes.

Check out Shota Akiyoshi's website to see more of his shoe designs and street art here!

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