This is not the first time we talk about TST Shoes, the high-end Japanese sneaker brand. Shoes are manufactured in Europe following eco-friendly parameters to adapt the demands of Japanese quality to the needs of an almost luxury shoe. A few days ago, Seishi Tanaka, the founder of the firm, stopped in Madrid. Born in Osaka, he began his adventure when he was awarded with a scholarship to play golf in the University of North Carolina. There he learned about technology applied to sports footwear. When he returned to Japan, he used all that knowledge in his family business, devoted to footwear manufacturing. Before that, he had worked for fashion firms such as Comme des Garçons, Helmut Lang and Paul & Joe. TST Shoes was established in 2002.
What’s the difference between a high-end ecofriendly shoe and a regular shoe?
A high-end shoe is made with high-quality leather to technically feel like a glove. Mass production of regular shoes uses worst quality materials to reduce the final price. Quality control is never the same for a simple reason: the number of shoes produced.
You started devising the TST process after winning a scholarship to play golf in the USA. Are you shoes inspired by golf?
Some of them are, but I can assure you most of them are not suitable to play golf. I wanted to design shoes using few chemicals in the production process.
Before establishing you company, you worked for firms such as Comme des Garçons and Helmut Lang. Did those experiences influence your work today?
Not much. In fact, they are all copying my shoes now!
TST’s method to link the leather to the sole is a well-kept secret. What can you tell us about it?
It’s based on a natural and personal feeling, on how to make things and on how they should work. A great passion for making ideal shoes is necessary, the rest comes alone. So the secret is to make shoes for oneself. This is just like your onw writing style: it can’t be copied.
Could we add the adjective trendy to you shoes?
I think contemporary is better?
Which other firm is doing something similar to what your doing?
Even though they follow a different process, I think Nike is quite close.
Your favourite hotspot?
My home in Japan.
You can’t stop listening to?
Jazz and bossa nova classics. I’m not too much into current music trends.
You never thought you’d end up?
Being ready for what’s to come.