The Apulian olive tree embroidered on a shoe, which made such headlines at Pitti Immagine 2023, is now travelling the world.
The shoe, for men and women, designed by Yuko Matsuzaki, the Japanese designer who, together with her colleague Masaharu Ikeda, founded the Seishou brand, arrived first in the Rising Sun, then in the United States and finished its tour in Europe. The model has been promoted, and is therefore known and purchasable, on each of these continents.
The idea to embroider on the black velvet upper of a shoe a plant very similar to the “Thinking Olive tree” of Ginosa (hence the model’s name) and to the one portrayed in the emblem of Specchia, in Salento, came to Matsuzaki after visiting the southern part of Puglia, where the Japanese designer, who has been based in Milan for thirty years, found some of the artisan companies suitable for her productions. “All of Seishou’s lines are conceived with the Japanese philosophy in mind and made with the refinement and professionalism typical of Made in Italy”, says the designer. “In the Salento footwear hub, I found the right craftsmen to work with”.
It was exactly during one of these visits in the “heel” of Italy that Matsuzaki became aware of a serious problem that has been damaging, for years, now, the Olive trees and that threatens to endanger the production of the famous extra virgin olive oil: “In Puglia the olives have been hit by the Xylella bacterium, which, by destroying them completely, threatens to make them disappear. That would be very serious. That is why I decided to dedicate a shoe to these extraordinary trees that also has a charitable purpose: an olive tree as a gift to Apulian farms for every pair of shoes sold”.
Last August, Matsuzaki’s visit to her native Japan to present the shoe and the initiative linked to it: “The operators in the sector were very impressed by the model, its embroidery and also by the commitment that we, as Seishou, have taken on with the companies,” says the designer. In my country, the olive tree is not as widespread as in the Mediterranean and is only cultivated in a specific region. Nevertheless, everyone knows about olive oil and its benefits in cooking'.
An attention that has been rewarded: “Japanese colleagues and friends have greatly admired the fact that the shoe, like all those in our lines, is designed with Japanese philosophy in mind and made with the refinement and professionalism typical of Made in Italy. In short, a perfect combination”, adds Matsuzaki.
Particularly appreciated was the willingness to designate an olive tree to an Apulian farm for every Ginosa model sold: “My goal is to contribute to reforesting the Italian region and to support olive cultivation and oil production. In this way, I hope to give Apulia a hand in combating a disease that has been endangering one of its prime assets for more than a decade, by giving a hand to the local agricultural sector and its many companies”, reaffirms the designer.
The welcoming on the other side of the Ocean is no different: “We know well that all Italian regions are represented in the United States by generations of families who have now become Americans. And in the States, Italy is particularly loved for its food, fashion, design and its “Dolce vita”. But this time at least two typically Italian characteristics land in the U.S. together: the gastronomic excellence and craftmanship.” The Japanese designers has, therefore, decided to make herself known on the US market with a model that is not only beautiful, particular, comfortable, original, of quality, but that also has a charitable vocation and celebrates a typically Italian product.
With the same spirit, Seishou set out to conquer the rest of Europe: “The characteristics that form the brand’s philosophy, well summarised in the slogan “Essential design made in Italy”, appeal as much in the south as in the north and east of the continent. On the other hand, all of the brand’s models feature great attention to detail, precise craftsmanship and the use of quality materials. But also, for Europe, I was interested in proposing not only one of our comfortable, essential and functional shoes, but one that also has a charitable purpose, to help companies that are in difficulty today”, concludes Matsuzaki.