It is said that there are few young craftsmen in the shoe industry. About 15 years ago when I started working with shoes, the most active craftsmen were men in their 60s and 70s, and I think more than half of them are now retired.
Of course, there are many craftsmen who are still active today, but most of them are in their 70s and 80s, and it is also true that there are few successors to the shoe industry.
I also hear that there are many people who did not let their children inherit the work of a craftsman because they wanted a more stable job than a craftsman. That's why there aren't many craftsmen in their late 40s to early 60s, who are their children.
Meanwhile, the other day I visited a manufacturer for the first time in a long time and met a 39-year-old craftsman like me. I hear that the number of young craftsmen in their 20s and 30s is gradually increasing in the shoe industry. It's still small, but I'm happy to think that Japan's (or rather, Tokyo's) shoe industry will continue into the future. And I thought from the bottom of my heart that the future of the manufacturer with him, who has been a craftsman for over 10 years, is bright. Based on what he has inherited from the craftsmen of the upper generation, he will surely create the future of the shoe industry together with the craftsmen of the lower generation.
Every time I go to a manufacturer, I think about things that need to change in order to move forward (increasing the number of younger generations of craftsmen, streamlining to keep up with the times, etc.), and things that I hope will remain good and not change. (This is an industry that values the warmth of the people involved in making shoes and the human empathy of the people involved.)
As a designer, I have always wanted to be someone who can communicate this issue and its appeal.
I think that not only the shoe industry but also various other industries have the same problems such as succession problems, and have similar charms that arise from relationships with people.
Face the problem and charm and treat it with love. That's all I can do, but every time I go to the manufacturer where I started, I feel really happy to be able to feel that feeling.
I would like to cherish not only horizontal human relationships that allow me to work hard together as colleagues, but also my seniors who have created a world that I can respect and share my thoughts with. Taking care of that vertical axis will surely lead to the future.
It would be nice if we could live in a world where everyone values the world they love and respects the worlds that other people love. It's not enough to be beautiful, but I just want this world to be a beautiful world.
The thought behind my craftsmanship may be the admiration for such a beautiful world.