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Mikio Sakabe sheds light on the unique identity of ‘grounds’ footwear



The footwear brand “grounds,” with its impressive decorative outsole, has established a firm position in the Japanese fashion scene. The shoes used to be for subculture youth until a few years ago, and now even mode lovers are following the trend.

The man behind this project is Mikio Sakabe, who graduated first in fashion from the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and has been involved in the management of MIKIOSAKABE and the fashion school coconogacco, and has left various impacts on the Japanese fashion industry over the past decade. He is well respected in the industry for his ability to comfortably circumvent the existing fashion system in Japan, and to use his rich creative abilities trained in Antwerp in a multitude of fields. We asked him about the identity of grounds from various angles.

Beyond “face” fashion: shoes that elevate the human form from the ground up

-How would you describe grounds? Please tell us about how the brand came this far.

Sakabe: grounds is a footwear brand symbolized by its distinctive outsole. Four years have passed since its establishment, and I feel that it is growing steadily despite its ups and downs.

-How did you come to launch another shoe brand when you already own fashion brand, MIKIOSAKABE?

Sakabe: In recent years, clothes were definitely designed around the head, undoubtedly based on the idea that “intelligence is important,” as in shirts and jackets made to draw the eye to the face.

Mikio Sakabe
Born in 1976, MIKIO SAKABE is a fashion designer and designer. In 2007-08, his eponymous fashion brand MIKIO SAKABE debuted at the Paris Collections for the fall/winter season in a presentation format, and in 2019, he established a brand specializing in footwear, GROUNDS. In 2019, he founded grounds, a brand specializing in footwear.

Sakabe: However, fashion is something that reflects the fresh air of the times, considering the relationship between humans and society. In this regard, we felt that we needed to propose a “new image of human beings” for the next era. So I was looking for a different approach, and I realized that if the shoes were distinctive, people would look at the whole body and see it in a different way than before.

-I see, so the next step was to focus on the feet.

Sakabe: Yes. We thought that we could propose a new image of human beings by thinking from the feet, rather than focusing on the head and face. grounds is a brand that literally thinks of design from the feet of humans, who are grounded to the earth, and we are developing designs that appear to be the basis of styling.

It is also interesting to note that shoes are approached differently from clothing, having architectural elements and being the farthest from the face and the most important product in the relationship between the earth and people.

-How did you come up with those ideas in the first place?

Sakabe: It often starts with dissatisfaction with the current situation or existing products. For example, sneakers have evolved with an emphasis on functionality, such as ease of movement and lightness, but that alone is boring. What if fashion was added to that? We incorporate such ideas into our designs.



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