Aki Nishiyama (Ann Bespoke)

August 5, 2017
Why and when did you decide to be a shoemaker?
I liked making things since a long time ago. The beginning was dismantling Crockett & Jones’s shoes. At first, I went to a shoe repairer to ask how I could dismantle the shoes. But I was told it was impossible for amateurs. Then I decided to dismantle them with a screw driver and a knife simply because I had a rebellious spirit. That was the trigger of starting to make shoes. After 10 years, my friend reassembled them and they are still on his feet.
Did you have a Mentor?
My Mentor is Jason Amesbury. I believe he is one of the few artisans who follow the traditional way of making shoes. I have learnt a lot from him apart from shoe making. He is my paragon.
Which other shoemakers do you like?
Jason Amesbury, Ryota Hayafuji, Emiko Matsuda… There are many of them.
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What memories do you have of your first order?
The first Mock up didn’t go well. But after several fittings, the customer loved the shoes. He gave me several more orders after that.
The key elements of a good shoe would be…
There are many elements but the most important thing is “Balance” for everything.imaege8
Is there any difference in terms of last between Asians and Europeans
Of course there are some differences and characteristics about them, but I cannot define them according to the race, since each person has unique feet.
How hard is to find a good balance between tradition and innovation?
You have to take many things into consideration and make no compromise.
How many artisans do you currently have at your shop?
Now it’s only me, but there may be more in time. I hope….

In bespoke shoemaking is the customer always right
Not always right. I respond to request as much as possible, but I may refuse if it’s far from my style..
What’s the scariest man shoe trend that you see today and what are the trends that you like/dislike most?
I don’t really have one in my mind. Just live at let live.im3age7
What golden advice you both have for an apprentice dreaming of becoming a bespoke shoemaker?
Observe a lot and consider a lot.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
I feel the best of every moment, but I’m never completely satisfied.
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
I see on any process but if I must to say then making lasts.e
What was the most challenging project so far?
 I always face difficulties….
What shoe would you like to make in the future that you have not yet made?
I don’t have any specific ones, but I would like to try to make  riding boots.
What shoe style do you prefer the most?
I prefer casual ones, such as loafers.
What are your favorite places to spend your evenings?
Chilling out at home.
What is your favorite word?
Simple is strong.
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)?
When it’s sunny but cool.
What turns you off?
When it’s raining and muggy.
What is your favorite curse word?
What sound or a noise do you love?
The sound of shaving a last.
What profession would you not like to do?
Sales & Promotion.
Photo courtesy of  Ann Bespoke & Lapel&Lapel