Contribute to the cause and keep a centuries-old tradition alive on the streets by wearing 450 years of history on your feet.
Five years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region, Fukushima Prefecture is still struggling to recover from the shocking after-effects of the triple disasters, which included meltdowns at reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex. While many small businesses suffered financial losses too great to keep them alive, one group of talented individuals is working towards recovery by promoting an important local handicraft in a stylish way: with a range of cotton sneakers.
The fabric used is called “Aizu cotton”, which has a fascinating history that goes all the way back to the 1600s, when a feudal lord stipulated that wives and daughters of samurai warriors should take up weaving as a side job. As a result, a distinctive type of woven cotton was born, becoming immensely popular for its striped design, often dyed with indigo, and its durability, which led to it being used in everyday kimono. Fukushima once boasted hundreds of Aizu producing factories but now only two producers remain.
The new range of sneakers aims to incorporate the popular kimono fabric into more modern forms of everyday wear in order to keep the local tradition alive. The group behind the project has posted their designs on Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake in order to help fund their production and with 20 days to go, they’ve exceeded their goal of 1.6 million yen (US$14,990), having acquired 2.17 million yen from 141 supporters at the time of this writing.
Each pair of sneakers contains a different coloured aizu cotton lining, which adds an interesting accent to the high-tops when the sides are pulled down.
▼ The top of the shoe is made from high-quality suede.
▼ And the rubber soles are hand-sewn onto the shoes, which makes for a high-quality handcrafted product.
With every part of the shoe put together by locals, this is a truly innovative project driven by members of the community dedicated to furthering their local textile manufacturing traditions. While the shoes are set to retail for 19,800 yen plus tax, supporters can pick up a pair in return for a 16,000 yen pledge now on the crowdfunding website.