24 Nov 2020 • Retail
Yes, even millennials can get into shoeshining. A YouTuber's Tokyo shop bids on the craft’s future
Yagyug Douguten took the vision of a popular YouTuber focused on the upkeep of leather shoes and developed a shop from it: Shoeboys.
Although the shoeshiner’s stand may not be the fixture it once was in cities, the practice is far from a dying art. That’s evidenced by the success of Japanese YouTuber Subaru Okuno, who, like other savvy influencers, has helped re-popularize the craft with a younger generation. With Shoeboys – a shoeshining and leather shoe shop in a residential part of Tokyo – Okuno aims to extend his impact with a physical footprint. Interior design firm Yagyug Douguten brought that idea to reality, turning a former office space into a store inspired by the street set-ups and culture of yore.
Architect Fumitaka Suzuki restored the interior, removing the additions made for the workspace (i.e. laminate flooring and plasterboard on the ceiling) while emphasizing the handiwork of the building’s original craftsman. Suzuki positioned a hut-like structure in the centre of the space to give the customers a full view of the leather-polishing magic, fashioning the surrounding area like urban walkways. The walls are a nod to the phenomenon of artists adorning downtown surfaces with stickers – over time, they can be populated with some designed by the illustrator Shiora Nato. ‘The time spent on finding the traces of craftsmen from the past, enjoying the changes over time, and gazing at an object becomes something to love and opens up our view,’ says Suzuki. ‘It has something in common with the act of polishing and cherishing leather shoes.’