There is a huge boom of shoemakers coming out of SE Asia these days and one of my favorites is Graziat Taipei, whose shoes not only have a very unique touch to them but are also impeccably made. As his shoes are so vastly unique and feel like they have a story to tell, I wanted to interview the man behind the brand in the hopes for all of you to understand his background and how to came to produce what I feel are some of the industry’s most beautiful shoes. Below you will find a sort of explanation about him (from his own words), as well as a series of direct questions.
This is a long post, but full of great information and beautiful shoes.
-Justin: ‘Wilbur, please tell me about yourself and your brand’
“Hi Justin, This is Wilbur
First of all, thank you for sharing my work, even though I have very few works.
I studied art, and my Japanese wife is also an artist. I studied art since I was a child. I started my own brand at the age of 29, now im 38. My first contact with patina was the Saphir agent in Taiwan who was selling me their dyes. At that time, I thought I could use my experience learning the techniques of painting creation.
After nine years, I have high requirements for leather quality. Now we purchase leather, design the lasts ourselves and deliver the design drawings and cardboard to manufacturers in several countries. At present, the main production is delivered to my friends in Shanghai. , Japanese manufacturers began to contact us in 2020, and we are now building systems. In the past three years, we have contacted many workshops in various countries around the world.
In the next ten years, I hope to establish my own production line in Taiwan. I also look forward to finding cooperative sales partners in different countries all over the world.
I am passionate about traditional crafts, so there is a high proportion of handmade crafting in Graziat’s shoes.
Graziat shoes are hand-lasted and hand welted.
Machine-stitching is used in the front of the welt. This method of operation is not in line with the business logic, but I like the setup very much.
Now we are preparing a series of leather goods with Italy, Taiwan, and Japan. I also started to hand-stitch leather goods a year ago.
Graziat’s website is under construction because there are customers from all over the world, I want it to be a multi-language website, so it has been delayed for a long time, the huge database is being inputted, Chinese and English versions will be released first.
Clients currently contact us through IG and Emails, so clients who like Graziat are welcome to write to me at any time. I love interacting with Clients.
The price of Graziat RTW shoes are around 870 USD-1,400 USD per pair and the custom price of crocodile/ alligator leather starts from 4,500 USD. Each pair of RTW provides customized Patina services. The delivery time is about 2-3 weeks. If there is size out of stock, the wait will be 5-7 weeks.”
And now for the series of questions, with answers below each question:
1. You say, ‘I started my own brand at the age of 29, now im 38’ What brand exactly? Graziat or something else?
I founded my first brand Caballero when I was 29 years old. All the manufacturing processes are done in Taiwan. I left my own brand during the third year of operation, I learned a lot during this period.
2. Why did you want to make shoes?
I don’t know how to describe this exactly. I think this is a question everyone is asked about often, but I can’t accurately express my feelings in vocabulary. I believe some people have similar feelings. There is no specific reason for first love. If we deliberately try to find out the reason, we seem to lose that ambiguous sense of beauty.
3. What inspires your sharp looks? For me, your shoes are distinctive as they are some of the sharpest shapes of lasts that I have seen.
I love contemporary arts, architecture, sports cars, any extreme lines, and shapes. I transfer my personal preferences to every piece of work. In fact, the reason why we always spend too much time designing new products is that we are always nitpicking towards one angle or some small details too critically. I don’t like too heavy or moderate lines, at least for now, but the beauty of extreme lines & shapes is short-lived, and I try to find a balance among them.
4. What do you say is your ‘thing’ that separates you from the other brands? Your specialty or ethos?
In fact, after a period of time, I found there are many factors to consider for a mature shoe design and operation. I think this is a brand’s “responsibility” consideration. The characteristics of leather, the purpose of shoes, user habits, regional dressing culture, comfort control, sole structure, climate temperature and humidity, etc., a mature shoemaker or designer must consider these factors, not only Graziat has our own artistic style, we spend a lot of time understanding and thinking about all these factors. We are pursuing the freedom of creation and the responsibility of growth.
5. When do you envision your website being ready?
Actually, the structure has been completed, but I am still nitpicking about the aesthetics of graphic designs. Besides, with the increase of foreign customers, the originally website pages’ settings may also need to be adjusted. I will complete the website as soon as possible. Customers are currently contacting us via Instagram or mail.
6. What are your plans for the future? New models, new ideas, etc?
Yes, we have many ideas and plans, holding leather exhibitions, leather goods designs, international TRUNK SHOW, opening a YOUTUBE channel and so on.
7. Will you plan to do trunk shows?
Yes, this is in the plan. I am eager to contact more customers. This will allow me to learn more. In the future, I also hope that I can close the business for two or three months to study more processing technics.
8. What leather goods will you be offering?
This year I designed some classic leather goods, travel bags, Tote bags, and some cool things that no one wants to make (I believe you already know that).
9. What other shoemakers inspired you, if any?
TYE shoemaker, his mastery of layering and balance is amazing, I also like TSUTAYA KAMIKUBO, especially the pinhole embossing on the strips.
10. What is your favorite shoe in your collection?
My favorite is the Tassel loafer. We let tassels have their own proportions according to each size.