I met-up yesterday with Shoji and Yuriko Kawaguchi
, the husband and wife team who have started their own bespoke shoemaking firm Marquess
in 2011. Although I had never seen any of their shoes in real life, I really admired the shoes I had come-across on the web and I’ve known of Shoji’s stellar reputation as one of the finest ‘makers’, having worked for a number of West-End bespoke firms. Marquess has caused a bit of a buzz at this forum and elsewhere, and quite rightly so.
When I met ‘nutcracker’ two weeks ago, he did mention that the Kawaguchis were expected to come to London for the second opening reception at the G&G Savile Row store. (G&G generously threw two receptions, the one last Friday was intended for the "beautiful people" and the other one, two weeks earlier, was for the riff-raff. No prize for guessing which one yours truly attended.) As I have plans to go to Japan later in the year, I thought I might contact them and, presuming we got on, would commission a pair of shoes, ready for a try-on when I come to Japan.
I got in contact with them when they had already arrived in Kettering (home of G&G) which is kind of home turf to them as they both had studied shoemaking at Thresham College and used to live in Desborough (just down the road from Kettering).
We met Saturday morning at their London hotel. Both of them are really the nicest and modest people imaginable. At Marquess, Shoji is responsible for the lasts and the bottom making, while Yuriko does the uppers (patterns, clicking and closing). So I decided to take the plunge and asked Shoji to take my measurements, which he did in the most meticulous way. Usually taking a set of foot measurements takes 10 minutes, but Shoji measure with weight, without weight checked and rechecked so the whole procedure took at least 30, if not 45 minutes (I didn't check the time).
I haven’t decided yet on the style or the leather. Of course, as this was a holiday for the Kawaguchis and not a trunk show, they had neither shoe- nor leather samples with them. We can discuss the particulars and other details through e-mail.
I have high hope for the forthcoming shoes.