Is there any pre-wedding buy more luxurious than a pair of shoes crafted over 10 months specifically for your groom’s feet? No. No there isn’t. Available from CraneBrothers, Japanese shoemaking specialist Clematis offers exactly this. We spoke with Keitaro Takano: in the business for 18 years, he founded Clematis in 2008.
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from everywhere, from what I see every day to the people I meet. I am always thinking about shoes and design. I base my designs on classic footwear styles, but for an individual twist I try to incorporate the motif of a clematis plant, which is also our logo. This has lead to certain signature characteristics of my shoes,including a leaf shaped rubber insert on the heel, which is usually a moon shape.
What does a bespoke shoe making process involve?
Clematis measures the client’s feet.
The client tries on the Clematis ‘fit’ shoe (these fit shoes are made on a last, developed especially by Clematis).
The client selects the style of shoe, leather, detailing: colour of the sole, colour of the shoe laces.
Once all options are chosen, the ‘trial shoe’ is made.
Six months later, the ‘trial shoe’ is fitted on the client to check if any final adjustments are needed.
Adjustments are made and two months later, the final shoes are ready.
How did you find yourself on the path of bespoke shoe design?
I fell in love with both fashion and handmade crafts as a teen. This lead me to pursue an interest in shoe making, so I opted to attend shoe making school. Once I graduated and began making my own shoes, I visited master Japanese shoemaker Seki Nobuyoshi weekly for six months for feedback on my design and craft.. This relationship led to me becoming an apprentice with Suki for the next 18 months, before I left to develop my own style. I started Clematis in 2008.
What is your favourite shoe trend right now?
I don’t follow shoe trends, but I do love how loafers are so popular at the moment. By their very nature they have to be perfectly fitted – there are no shoe laces to help – so the structure has to be well crafted.
What do you hear from your clients most often about the shoes you create for them?
The aspect of their footwear they are most often amazed about is the impeccability of fit. They tell me it’s been hard for them to get a well-fitting pair of shoes from other bespoke shoemakers, even though they are made specifically for the client.