Yuki Matsuda, principal of Yuketen was so kind to sit with us and share his unique vision for Yuketen.
Could you give us a quick background on craft and practice? What brought you to Yuketen? Your items seem to fit a genuine slow movement of craft and quality. What are you core principals behind your brand and aesthetic.
I began studying and collecting made in U.S.A. clothing and shoes at an early age. I can’t remember exactly how young I was when I became fascinated with heritage products. I just know that it has never left me. The intricacies of clothing and shoes fascinate me. I created Yuketen from my love and passion for enduring footwear. The Yuketen brand is based on comfort and quality with an intelligent/artistic masculine aesthetic. Those are the most important criteria for me.
Your items feel free local and genuine, almost specic in time, but still evolving – how do you balance past and future design trends in your items?
I do what I love to do and I do not follow trends much. I think everything goes around and comes around. One day I’m not cool because the trend is gone? It’s inevitable because of the funny way trends work. But even after this trend fades it will eventually come around again!
Could you give us background on why you are so attracted to American aesthetic or do you see it fitting a global point of view?
When I was 15 years old I started working for an American lifestyle store in Osaka, Japan. Now, many years later, I still remember vividly how exiting it was to see made in USA converse, made in USA Levis 501, or made in USA Bostonians! They were classic all-American made. It’s hard to describe how impressive it felt to wear made in USA Red Wing Irish Setter when I was 15 years old. Even now, as it was when I was 15 years old, I’m still looking for the most impressive best products that satisfy my discriminating standards. I want to see continual progress even if it only happens in baby steps. I don’t know whether or not my way of thinking embraces a global point of view. We sell Yuketen all over the world and this is an accomplishment we’re really proud of.
Could you walk us through you design process? Do you work off of traditional designs or do you source your own original designs?
All my designs originate from shoes or clothing that I would want to wear myself or would have worn when I was younger. The process has to start from somewhere so this is where I begin. Fundamentally speaking the vast majority of my designs are original. A lot of Yuketen designs are heavily influenced by the leather. Like Genuine Shell Cordovan from Horween. In this respect I rely heavily on the tannery to make a great base and build the rest from there.
Many of your items have wonderful details that are only apparent to the owner. Do you design your items to bring joy to the owner or more for the viewer?
That’s an interesting question. We try to make every customer happy. When they look their own Yuketens, I want a customer to smile from enjoyment because their Yuketens are comfortable and attractive. Compliments are great but I would prefer that Yuketen customers satisfy their own egos instead of depending on compliments from others to justify their purchase.
Who do you think is more important the wearer of the item, or how the item is perceived by others?
Same as what I just told you. Yuketen should inspire confidence and this can only be achieved by wearing the product. Visual perception only satisfies one sense. Tactile appreciation is equally as important for shoes and clothing.
How would you define your relationship with suppliers?
Partners. A symbiotic relationship. Codependents.
What are some of the other design influences you are finding interesting at this moment?
Old hand-made luggage I just saw in our office. It changes from day to day…
How do you find working as a local in a global environment? As a Japanese do you ever find challenges in translating your vision to crafts people from other countries?
No. It’s very easy to relate to people from other regions where I have visited. When you have respect for others the work is easier.
Where do you start a design – from a fabric, sketch, a vision, a historical piece?
From time to time it’s different. Many times a book or historical piece will spark an idea and that idea will develop into a finished product. It would be nice if 100% of my ideas came to fruition…
How does your fabrication and manufacturing skill set play into your design vision? Do you ever find challenges in producing your vision and goals? Â How do you design around these challenges?
I try to make it myself to see how difficult it will be to make it. Oftentimes this process helps to think of a better solution. The hard way isn’t always the right way. Also, with Yuketen, a tremendous amount of time is invested into each and every product. So we must be cognizant of this condition as well.
Yuketen shoes, accessories and associated Monitaly clothing are carried by Revolver in San Francisco