Hidetaka Fukaya, also known by his nickname Il Micio, is as much artist as artisan.
Shoemakers tend to divide into two groups: those that are primarily driven by the artistic side of their work and those that are motivated principally by the craft. Norman Vilata is an artist, as are Christophe and Pierre Corthay; most English shoemakers fall into the second group, as does anyone who trained to bench-make shoes. Despite their slightly heavier construction than, say, Cleverley, Gaziano & Girling is the only English shoemaker I would put in the first category. Tony’s design aesthetic is truly original, even if the make owes much to Northampton.
Norman makes dirty shoes; Christophe makes shoes that melt; Hidetaka prefers wobbly or slanty shoes. The examples below are nothing more than art. Only someone driven by the artistic possibilities of his professions would create such expensive works of fantasy. Also in Hidetaka’s showroom, though not pictured, was a pair of shoes made in a leather that had been ‘marbled’ in the same way as traditional Florentine paper.
Tony has his own ideas for objets d’art. He also appreciates other arts in a similar way to Hidetaka.
But to give the basics. Hidetaka is Japanese but has lived in Florence for 15 years. He has a small showroom and an office on one side of Via dei Federighi and a workshop on the other. Three other Japanese work for him. His bespoke shoes start at €3000 and he makes around 50-60 pairs a year. He trained under Alessandro Stella in Sienna and the vast majority of his clients are from outside Italy.
“I came to Florence because it is the centre of bespoke shoemaking in Italy. It is also a centre for many other crafts, which is inspiring,” he says.
Strictly speaking, Il Micio is Hidetaka’s bespoke brand. He makes ready-to-wear shoes, to the same quality as bespoke, for Tomorrowland and Tie Your Tie in Japan under the brand Hidetaka Fukaya. He only travels to Japan for bespoke appointments, but is considering adding Singapore.
(RTW shoes from such Florentine craftsmen are worth keeping an eye out for, given their quality; Stefano Bemer is an example. Benchmade shoes are only cheaper to make if you already have the machinery.)
Hidetaka’s shoes are, as you might expect, slim, sharp and finely worked in the details. He likes monks, slip-ons and balmorals. On the wall of his workshop is a sheet of sketches for bespoke commissions. He also likes designing original leather goods.
I am not yet an Il Micio client and therefore cannot speak to the fit of his shoes. But my good friend Wei Koh, founder of The Rake, extols their virtues. And he should know.
As I leave, I ask about the two vintage bicycles leant against one wall of the workshop. It turns out Hidetaka is a keen cyclist and has ridden L’Eroica three times. Suddenly I begin to spot the references around the room, such as the three riders drafting each other across the top of the strip light. I knew we had something in common.
Last night, I’d just discovered Mr. Fukaya’s work, as I’m looking for a new bootmaker in Florence, and here he is today! Wonderful coincidence, complete with fine images!
Thanks for this post.:)
Great to hear about new shoemakers but please avoid the self interested quips about what you personally have in common. This blog is not about YOUR style, but rather a permanent traditional style.
No, it’s pretty much always been about what I think about permanent style.
I’m pretty sure it’s about Mr Crompton’s personal style, and what he believes is permanent…?
It’s also the case that we all decide what we like based on our preferences.
Constructive comments are acceptable, but that’s just a bit rude…
Anonymous: at what point when reading the interesting, insightful, carefully edited and illustrated and above all FREE personal weblog did you think it was a sound plan to be rude to the author and demand an improvement in output to more suit your personal tastes? You seem thoroughly objectionable.
Hi Simon, I’m an affectionate reader from Siena. I’m planning to buy a new pair of shoes, and was wondering whether to go for RTW from Edward Green or George Cleverley, or stay in Tuscany with Hidetaka or Alessandro Stella. Your advice would be much appreciated.
It’s very much a question of style. The latter two will be made far better – there is no hand stitching in Edward Green or Cleverley RTW. But they will also be cheaper for that. Probably most importantly, the English style will be very different at least to Hidetaka. I don’t know Stella very well.
Hope that helps
Thank you for your reply. I’d have one more question. I’ve noticed there is quite a big difference in the price of bench made shoes from EG and Cleverly (with EG’s being almost 50% more expansive). Is there a particular reason for that?
Yes, Cleverley are made by Crockett & Jones, and the prices are pretty much comparable to their top work.
Where can I find these shoes in the states?
You can’t I’m afraid Kim, just Florence and Japan
The jacket that Mr. Fukaya is wearing in the first picture looks really great. Any idea who the maker is?
No, sorry. I’ll ask him next time I see him though
Thanks Simon. Would be really interested to know more.
Dear Simon, two people to certainly put Munich on your map, are suitmaker Stefan Sicking of SICKING die Schneider, and a longterm friend of Hidetakasan, Ryota Hayafuji. He does bespoke shoes in a wonderful delicate manner.
Did you ever take the plunge and commissioned a pair?
No, been strong so far…
Does he sell some RTW in the Florence store or just in Japan?
I currently had a bespoke pair of shoes made by Cleverley. I sometimes see pictures of Hidetaka Fukaya’s work or other bespoke makers and it seems to look better in pictures. However, I know in person that this may not be the case.
In your experience, what would be the main difference between bespoke Cleverley’s versus Bespoke Fukaya’s or another maker like Spigola? Is it mainly the style of the shoe? Are the details better on one or the other?
The Japanese, both Fukaya and Spigola, do tend to have much finer details, such as the pitch of the heel, sharpness of the waist etc. This is also a question of style of course, to a certain extent, and their style in terms of elongated last shapes can also be different
thank you for writing this feature. i purchased a pair of Hidetaka Fukaya RTW single strap monk boots from Tomorrowland in Tokyo a couple of years back. When i recently looked inside the boot, I was surprised to see metal staples all around the inner sole. Any reason why a shoemaker would use staples instead of thread stitching to attach inner sole to outer part of shoe??? I am assuming it is a cost issue??
According to me specially my taste your are one of the best quality shoe and very remarkable