I want to produce shoelaces.
That’s what our boss has been saying this for years.
However, we are not a manufacturing company by nature, so we have no know-how nor connections.
If we are going to make something, it has to be something that doesn't exist in the world, otherwise it has no meaning and no chance.
That's why the project had been on hold for a long time, but the planning team was aware that "shoelace making" was something we wanted to achieve someday.
Eventually, the timing of my fascination with "old scarves" and my belated awareness of the SDGs, or the fact that the global environment seemed to be in trouble, coincided, and I decided to start my shoelace business in that direction.
"Making something that didn't exist before with what we have now."
Normally, it would be ideal if we could develop earth-friendly products from the development of materials.
But, it is a little difficult with our technology and knowledge.
However, we were able to create "something completely new and unprecedented" using "something that already exists.
Of course, it was not easy.
It was a series of frustrations to create the product from scratch until we achieved the ideal finish.
Nevertheless, I was able to meet the craftsmen who are now in charge of the actual production, and we repeatedly brushed up the product together, and finally we have been able to continue stable production, although the number is small.
About the materials we use
When I started the brand, I used to dismantle old kimonos, but now I make shoelaces using dead stock kimono fabrics, which are recommended as the best "material," and used and vintage scarves.
I think that being able to give new value to things that already exist or that cannot be used for their original purpose will produce results that are kind to the earth.
I also use scraps of Kurume Kasuri and traditional African fabrics.
I believe that in order to preserve tradition, it is necessary to get the word out, and I hope that I can help in some small way.
During the production process, there will be some scraps, but they will be reused by our sister brand,「odds and ends」to create bags with a unique character.
About "Scarf Shoelaces"
I buy used and vintage scarves in bulk.
Many of them have damage that makes them unusable as scarves, and these scarves are reborn as shoelaces with a completely new value.Of course, there are some scarves that can be used as scarves as they are, but when those scarves are turned into shoelaces, the new charm that is different from the original is really wonderful.
Scarves are really difficult to handle, and they all have different sizes and textures.
It is not possible to cut them in layers.
So, basically, everything is done one piece at a time, one item at a time.
If we cannot work on multiple sheets at once, it is impossible to produce them in a factory. We talked with many people and asked them how they could help us. However, they were unable to realize it, and now only a few craftsmen with solid skills are producing the products.
The first step is washing and ironing.
This is all done by hand, of course, checking the vertical grain of each piece.
Carefully and carefully. It greatly affects the finished product.
After that, the fabric is distributed to the craftsmen in charge, and production begins.
The scarves, which are sometimes soft and squishy, sometimes tight and unreliable, are cut into thin, thin strips, ironed to the finished width, and finally sewn.
Sewing is also really difficult, although it may sound persistent. 、、、、
Each item is carefully made by craftsmen with tremendous concentration.
Once the sewing is finished, the length is adjusted and the tip is processed. This is another important technique.
It requires precision, care, and manual dexterity.
About "Kimono shoelaces"
As mentioned earlier, these are mainly made from dead stock kimono fabrics that are suitable for "materials", such as old, color-blackened, damaged, or even new B-strips.
Since the thin finish of shoelaces is not affected by most scratches, it is often possible to use the fabric without wasting it, rather than making something with a large, all-out statement.
The size of the fabric is standardized, so cutting and other operations can be done collectively to some extent compared to scarves. Therefore, a factory that specializes in reproductions will take on this project, and with advice on special processes, the products will be produced by the hands of their own craftsmen.
It will shrink after it is unraveled from the paper tube and folded.
Therefore, let it sit overnight before cutting. Long and thin, use special equipment.
Sewing is also done with special equipment.
The technique of sewing long and thin is breathtaking.
The long strings are cut and then fine-tuned before moving on to the tips.
The" Kurume Kasuri", "Kitenge African fabric", and "scarf mix" are all made through special processes."Kurume Kasuri" and "Scarf Mix", which use two types of fabric for one string, require particularly careful work.
Even for the same "shoeface shoelaces," the process is all different if the material is different.
If there are new lines to be developed in the future, I don't think they can be made in the same way.
Every shoelace is hand-made in Japan, one by one, and completed by the high skills of craftsmen.
As long as it is acceptable, we consider blemishes and stains as "the history of the fabric," and besides, there is no uniform finish that is typical of ready-made products.
I hope that you will accept these things as part of the charm of shoeface.
I would be happy if you could read about the characteristics of the finished product, how to thread the strings, and other thoughts here
Finally, after starting shoeface (thankfully), I was often asked the question "Why did you chose shoelaces? "
Every time, I would say, "Well, the president has always said it, and I guessed that he just liked it. So I never asked specifically. I’m sorry..." How many times did I give that pathetic reply?
Everyone was so kind that they didn't ask me any more questions, so I left it at that. Somehow, I've decided that I'll never ask why shoelaces are used when I've come this far, so if anyone asks and finds out, please contact the planning department secretly.
About "odds and ends"
odds and ends is an SDGs fashion brand that makes bags and other items mainly from scarf scraps that are produced in the "shoeface" production process.
I think it is very good that the negative impact of the fashion industry on the environment has been discussed and is now well known, from the perspective of raising awareness. On top of that, I want to keep the feeling of pure enjoyment of fashion. I want to wear what I like without feeling guilty, and both shoeface and odds and ends want to make products that can be chosen by such people with peace of mind.
The "odds and ends" brand reuses haggis left over from the "shoeface" brand which gives new value to old cloth. Through these two brands, we can reduce waste, carefully use what we have for a long time, and so on. It's a brand where if you choose "like," the result will be a relationship with the SDGs.