- When one hears SEBAGO, the boat shoes, manufactured the same way for over 40 years since 1970, or the hand sewn penny loafers that have been sold since their establishment come to mind. What were your impressions of SEBAGO?
- They are one of the American shoemakers that I’ve often seen since late 1970s. The first of their shoes that comes to mind are the hand sewn moccasins and the beefroll loafers. In regards to American shoes, brands like JOHNSTON & MURPHY had more of a dressy image, while SEBAGO was casual and sporty. Since they undertook the production for various boat shoes makers in the past, there was a strong image of yacht and marine sports as well.
- The course of events leading up to this collaboration - what were they like?
Within the SEBAGO team, there happened to be a supporter of ENGINEERED GARMENTS since its beginning. That was the cue for this project.
SEBAGO is a long time shoemaker established in America, but an Italian corporate group administers them now. Cases like that aren’t rare at all in this day and age, and having pursued American products for a long time myself, I have seen many “Made in USA” disappear. Having experienced such circumstances, and picturing the way of American brands and its existence in the future, I thought perhaps this project could be the beginning of something new.
An American shoemaker revived by an Italian company, and a Japanese taking charge of the design. By being in the position of introducing American products to the Japanese market, I have looked, worn, and touched many things throughout my long experience. And because of that I may be able to create the “American style” of the future. It might be the new standard for any American brand that launches globally. I felt such possibilities with this collaboration and that was a huge reason for it happening.
Those who have been fascinated by the good old spirit that lives in American products, like myself, and the younger generation that can understand and share the same excitement for them could reshape the American style to the current time. I think efforts like that will become increasingly important from now on. Entrusting our beliefs and hopes, and succeeding the American style we have admired, into the future. Not anymore are the times when we would simply describe something as “American made or not”, like that was the only way to explain its value. Times are rather evolving. I’ve never imagined circumstances like this, but with the flow of time, I’m starting to think that this right here might be what we really wanted to do.
- Regarding the collaboration model this time, tell us the concept of each design.
In regards of tackling the design, I wanted go a step further and do something more than just a material or color change approach to an existing model. As for the base to lay out my ideas on, I looked through their wide range of models - loafers, boat shoes, chukkas, boots - and came to a conclusion that I wanted the most basic model for the base. When I think “basic” , it’s a Blucher moccasin. With my personal favorite style of moccasins as the base, I added my own adjustments so the finish would be distinctively different from traditional SEBAGO.