HOME

STYLE FILE

#12 THE SHOE MAKER MASARU OKUYAMA

MASARU OKUYAMA

There were two defining moments in the young life of Hong Kong-based shoemaker Masaru Okuyama. The first occurred when he was a boy, attending a festival in Japan to celebrate young children growing up healthy. ‘I was just three years old and it was the first time I ever wore proper, leather-soled shoes,’ he says. ‘In the photos taken that day, you can see by the look on my face how proud I was of those shoes.’ The second? Seeing a car commercial on TV. A wind tunnel blew coloured smoke across a vehicle’s profile, demonstrating its aerodynamics. ‘This was amazing for me. Now, when I draw the curves of a shoe, I imagine that smoke moving around the edges of the design.’


A graduate of the Nihon University College of Art, and a protégé of Japanese shoemaker Chihiro Yamaguchi, Okuyama works from his garage atelier. He measures clients’ feet meticulously, fashions a wooden last by hand and cuts several pairs of trial shoes, fettling and finessing until the fit is just so. This can take up to six months. ‘No two people’s feet are exactly alike,’ he says. ‘Even our own two feet are not identical in length and width. When shoes are made to the exact measurements of each individual foot, there is no need to compromise on the comfort of one foot over the other. After all, your foot is as unique as your fingerprints.’

As seen in Wallpaper*,
Photographer Jan Lehner

STYLE FILE

#12 PORTFOLIO GALLERY

SOLE MAN

‘Shoes can change your state of mind.’

MASARU OKUYAMA

TUDOR STYLE

Left, leather, dye samples and the shoemaker’s stamp in his studio.

DISCOVER THE TUDOR FASTRIDER BLACK SHIELD

STYLE FILE

#12 INSPIRATION GALLERY

08:00

Mornings

‘The elements always inspire me,’ says Okuyama. ‘So in the mornings, before I take my children to kindergarten, we spend an hour together in the park. This is very important to me. I relax and clear my mind, preparing myself for the day ahead.’

09:00

Hands on

Time to get hands on. ‘I first discovered the magic of handmade footwear when I bought a pair of Edward Green shoes. I was 24, but I felt suddenly mature when I was wearing them. I discovered that shoes can change your state of mind, not just your appearance.’

14:00

Afternoons

‘In the afternoon, I keep working on new shoe projects. My shoes refer back to classic shapes, so even if I am creating a new design it will be respectful to the heritage of shoe design. Bespoke shoe making is very personal. I need to meet the client at least three times to deliver one pair of shoes.’

18:00

After office hours

‘Clients will often come to see me after office hours at six or seven o’clock. Hong Kong suits my lifestyle. The city feels international and stateless. I never feel I am in a small, isolated place. I feel I can meet all sorts of people, exchange ideas. It keeps me feeling fresh and open-minded.’

STYLE FILE

#12 TUDOR COMBINATIONS

TUDOR CRAFT

‘Shoes and watches are both something that express part of a man’s personality, such as seriousness,’ says Okuyama. The ‘Tudor Fastrider Black Shield’ chronograph features a matt finish on a monobloc case, showing off the watch’s clean curves and the tachymetric scale engraved on the bezel. ‘The combination of black ceramic and the Alcantara® strap reminds me of a shoe’s construction,’ says Okuyama.

DISCOVER THE TUDOR FASTRIDER BLACK SHIELD

#01 THE TAILOR PATRICK GRANT

#02 THE ENGINEER CHARLES MORGAN

#03 THE DESIGNER NITZAN COHEN

#04 THE CHEF CHRISTOPHE DUFAU

#05 THE GLASS ARTIST J. M. WINTREBERT

#06 THE PERFUMER BEN GORHAM

#07 THE JEWELLER JORDAN ASKILL

#08 THE ARTIST MIKE PERRY

#09 THE MIXOLOGIST MATT WHILEY

#10 THE FLORAL ARTIST AZUMA MAKOTO

#11 THE LIGHT ARTIST KIT WEBSTER