Hiro Yanagimachi visited the United States a second time this April, accompanied by bottom-maker Shunsuke Moriyama. Leffot in New York hosted this trunk show.
A few months prior, I began a correspondence with Hiro. I told him I appreciated his shoes, and he invited me to have a conversation with him in New York. So I went to NYC for three days–to visit him and a few different shoe places in New York (future posts to come!).
Hiro brought a nice array of oxfords, derbies, and ghillies. His brown shoes stood on one side of the table, while his black shoes occupied the other.
Hiro Yanagimachi is one of my favorite makers. Aesthetically, his shoes are simple, honest, and balanced. I personally avoid ostentatious shoes, and I think that Hiro’s shoes achieve harmony and elegance. That said, I much prefer his rounded lasts to the square-toed, or chiseled options.
His worker, Shunsuke Moriyama, studied design and began his foray in shoemaking in 2011. Since then, he’s worked with Hiro, together with six other workers (so seven in total, including Hiro). Two female workers are responsible for the uppers, and two men are responsible for bottom-making. A part-time worker also specializes in making their shoe pouches.
About 30% of Hiro’s shoes are bespoke, while the majority are MTO (made-to-order) and MTM (made-to-measure). Most of his clients are international, and many go overseas to visit their workshop in Tokyo (or Hiro meets them at trunk shows). There is a growing client base in the United States so Mr. Yanagimachi is considering the west coast for future visits. For now, a European trunk show is in the works.
I stayed at the trunk show for about an hour and observed Hiro’s work with clients. Hiro moves silently, listens, and defers to the client’s needs and aesthetic desires. From what I saw, he does not persuade his clients, but rather makes different observations about shoes so that the client can come to his own decision.
As an aspiring shoemaker, I hoped to gain some clarity from meeting Hiro. He advised me to study for two years (rather than apprentice) and take time to learn about myself whilst making shoes. During this time, I can form an identity and come to find my own place in shoemaking.
Thank you Steven from Leffot for hosting, and Hiro and Shunske for your work and patience.
Hiro’s shoes may be found at: https://www.hiroyanagimachi.com/en/