Beyond imagination
Traditional shoemakers made more than 15 styles of shoes, all completely by hand, one shoe at a time.
Noriyuki Misawa

A cobbler (known in England as a cordwainer) is a skilled craftsman who makes shoes. The profession has almost occurred since the beginning of mankind, with the earliest forms of shoes made as fur boots (in the Ice Age) and sandals (dating back to ancient times in the Mediterranean area and the Far East), followed by wood shoes like clogs and leather shoes, like hinged construction and English styles.

The footwear trade was once a very popular career choice, but the introduction of mass shoe manufacturing in the late 18th century left many shoemakers out of business or had to accept shoe repair jobs for much lower costs.

Common shoe styles made by shoemakers and cordwainers include: shoes, sandals, boots, clogs and loafers. These are usually made of material like leather, wood, rubber and plastic. Traditional shoemakers were said to manufacture more than 15 styles of shoes, all completely hand-made, one shoe at a time, talking to talented artist Noriyuki Misawa himself who tells us that it takes up to six months to make a unique pair of shoes, personalized and tailor-made for each of your unique customers.

Torrego took the opportunity to ask some key questions and Noriyuki’s textual answers were as follows:

When do you start to design shoes?

When I was a college student, 20 years old.

Why shoes?

I was attracted by figurative beauty of shoes.

Do you come from a shoemaker family?

My parents are ordinary office workers. Only I became a shoemaker in my family.

But I spent my childhood engrossed in manual training and Painting as I grew up surrounded by art books that belonged to my mother. 

That affects my present work.

Where were you born?

Miyagi, Japan

Where were did you study?

Tokyo and Vienna (Austria).

I started to learn shoemaking in Tokyo in order to become a shoemaker. 

Seven years later, I moved to a new training destination, which is a city known for art and craft, Vienna.

After coming back to Japan, I entered the world of leather craft in order to extend my range of expression. 

I studied with a leather relief craftsman for 4 years.

How old are you?

39 years old

Where were do you live?

Arakawa, Tokyo

Do you have an atelier, where?

Arakawa, Tóquio (Arakawa5-46-3-1F, Arakawa-ku, Tóquio, 116-0002 JAPÃO)

Through your wonderful article, I am very happy to let foreigners know about me.

Thank you.

Kind regards

Noriyuki Miasma

… There are very few traditional shoemakers today, but shoe repair shoemakers still exist and repair millions of mass-produced shoes each year.

“The term cordwainer derives from the word cordwain (or cordovan), the leather that was used to make shoes as early as 1100 in England.”

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