"Cool!" Sneakers with Sandal Thongs"Hanao Shoes" from Kyoto Gain Popularity
"Hanao Shoes," which are sneakers decorated with "Hanao," or thongs for traditional Japanese clogs, have been gaining popularity. Developed under the theme of "Old is New" by an associate professor at Kyoto University of Art & Design, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, this novel design promotes attractiveness of traditions from Kyoto.
It all started in the spring of 2017, when "Miyako Odori," or a stage performance of traditional Kyoto dance, was held by Gion Kobu Kabukai at the university. Assistant Professor Yosuke Sakai placed "Hanao Shoes," which he had created in a flash of inspiration, in the display at the event venue. There, he received many inquiries about where they could be purchased. He arranged for the shoes to be produced on a commercial basis and used canvas shoes, pricing them at 18,144 yen per pair. When he sold them through a department store during the summer, all of the 140 pairs were sold out within two weeks.
Sakai insisted on using Japanese products, and ordered sandal thongs from "Kikugonomi," a long-established maker of Japanese sandals based in Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture, as well as other makers, and canvas shoes from MoonStar Company, Kurume City, Fukuoka Prefecture. In response to requests, he made sneakers of genuine leather, which cost 29,592 yen, and shoes for children, which cost 8,856 yen. He has also received requests to add thongs from clients' own sandals to the shoes.
"Hanao Shoes" have risen in popularity as a "cool" item after being sold as a limited-time-only item at department stores, mainly in Kyoto, and on line, as well as in London and Milan. Although their original target was fashion-conscious young people in their 20s to 30s, it is reported that the shoes are highly admired by those who wear kimono on a daily basis such as geisha, apprentice geisha, and people involved in tea ceremony.
Inspired by the commercialization of "Hanao Shoes," the university founded the Kyoto Traditional Culture Innovation Laboratory last April. Assistant Professor Sakai, who became the laboratory's director, said, "The only word to describe crafts people's attitude toward their work is cool. We would like to expand the possibilities of traditional industries."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)