A rising global sensation, embraced by NewJeans and beyond
-How many types of shoes have you released to date?
Sakabe: In total, we must have produced more than 600 kinds of shoes. We drop a new collection every week, and also develop a collection every season, so it’s quite a large number. We also get quite a few requests to re-release old designs.
-Have there been any shifts in the customer base in the last four years?
Sakabe: At first, we started out with MIKIOSAKABE customers and the Harajuku area. From there, the shoes themselves stood out, so word of mouth spread rapidly among the customers who purchased them. Recently, the range of customers has gradually expanded, and they seem to be enjoying the various styling options. Sneakers have become a part of the collections of people who like sneakers, and recently we have seen an increase in the number of men’s customers and customers from overseas.
-Any particular countries where your products are popular?
Sakabe： We are expanding our business evenly throughout the world, including Asia, Europe, and the U.S. The largest number of customers is in China, followed by the U.S.
-Do you see any difference in the way people wear grounds between Japan and other countries?
Sakabe: I recently went to the U.S. for a look shoot, and I found the way some people wear them to be quite attractive. It was interesting to see the difference in interpretation of street culture between Japan and America.
-Could you give an exapmple?
Sakabe: They had a street style, wearing brand clothes but with ground shoes. The point was to mix and match luxury brands with grounds. There are still very few sneakers that explore fashion interest in terms of design, so they seem to be interesting in that respect. We have even had musicians wear them on the red carpet. The initial Japanese fans and the overseas customers are different in a good way, which is interesting.
-Yes, I have seen celebrities and K-POP groups wearing it recently.
Sakabe: Yes, right after NewJeans wore them in their music video, fans were quick to respond, and we received inquiries via Instagram DMs. But what’s interesting is that it’s not so much that there’s a huge response because a celebrity wore them, but that’s one of the characteristics of “grounds.
-So, communication is very much brand-driven.
Sakabe: That’s right. Up until now, we have mainly communicated online through Instagram and e-commerce, but this September we opened our first directly managed store in Harajuku. I hope to make new proposals here by linking well with the virtual world.