For the past few days, I had an opportunity to meet shoemaker Ryota Hayafuji
. With 15 years of training and working under some of the best known names in shoemaking (Dimitri Gomez, Paul Wilson, and Marini), Hayafuji finally opened his own shoemaking workshop last year in Munich, Germany. Many would consider him to be among the most accomplished Japanese shoemakers in the world, and like his close cohorts Emiko Matsuda (F&S) and Hide Fukaya (Il Micio), he chose to pursue his career in Europe. He does return to Japan twice a year to take orders at Old Hat
Tokyo/Osaka. I had an opportunity to share a dinner table with him, and I must say I was positively enamoured by listening to him share his wealth of knowledge and (often hilarious) anecdotes. It's surprising to see how little information is available (online) on him, but I also realize that's how he would like it. He seems perfectly content to being a shoemaker serving his quiet neighbourhood in Munich, away from the hustle and bustle of Paris, London, or even Tokyo.
The core of Hayafuji style is essentially English, but over the years he digested the elements of French, Italian, and also German orthopedie into a style that is uniquely his. Perhaps as a reflection of his character, the shoes aren't particularly flashy or expressionistic. Hence I sense that novices (like me) would easily overlook some of the extraordinary details that would otherwise make connoisseurs jump up and down. They are definitely more than meets the eyes, and pictures don't do them justice. I highly recommend anyone interested, and living in the Eurosphere, to seek him out in Munich.
A noble oxford shoe with a blind welt construction.
A glamorous sole!
Whole cut oxford with imitation brogues. The tassels give some extra touch.
Apron-front derby: an homage to a classic Parisian style. Double welted.
Captoe Oxford with a certain vintage feel.
The outstitching are done impossibly near the edge, a detail often seen in classic American shoes.
The One and Only Ryota Hayafuji
My thanks to Hayafuji-san and the folks @ Old Hat Tokyo
for their hospitalityOld Hat Tokyo