The Shoe Maker

There is a boat in the middle of city
Shoemaker Masaru Okuyama's home environment fosters his creativity. 'Hong Kong suits my lifestyle,' explains the shoemaker. 'The city feels international and stateless. I never feel I am in a small, isolated place'
(Image credit: press)

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.’

Tools are organised .

A graduate of the Nihon University College of Art, and a protégé of Japanese shoemaker Chihiro Yamaguchi, Okuyama works from his garage atelier

(Image credit: Okuyama)

Wooden measuring for shoe making.

He measures clients' feet meticulously, before fashioning a wooden last by hand

(Image credit: press)

Brown colored shoes.

One of the defining moments in the young life of Okuyama was a car commercial he saw on TV, in which a wind tunnel blew coloured smoke across the vehicle's profile. 'This was amazing for me. Now, when I draw the curves of a shoe, I imagine that smoke moving around the edge of the design'

(Image credit: press)

An industrial Nippy skiving machine and a sewing machine.

Okyuma only has two machines in his work shop: an industrial Nippy skiving machine (pictured) and a sewing machine

(Image credit: Okyuma )

Shoes with wooden measuring instruments.

'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,' says Okuyama

(Image credit: Okuyama)