By MANTA KLANGBOONKRONG
FANS OF FASHIONABLE Onitsuka Tiger sport footwear have exactly 200 chances to walk into 2016 wearing “Nippon Made 2015” shoes. That’s how many pairs have been made available in Thailand.
They come in two designs and seven attractive colours as the brand revisits its best-selling Mexico and Ultimate models with smooth tanning and meticulous handcraftsmanship.
“This represents Onitsuka Tiger’s most celebrated craftsmanship,” Vorapan Nithyayon of the Thai distributor LME said at the launch last week.
“Every process, from the tanning and cutting to sewing, is done by hand by experienced Japanese shoemakers, and this makes each pair unique and valuable collectibles.
“This collection uses kangaroo leather, which is considered the best-quality leather for shoes. It’s soft, highly flexible and breathes very well, so the shoes are very comfortable and durable.”
Famed for its minimal yet stylish footwear, Onitsuka Tiger is one of the oldest shoe companies in Japan, founded as Onitsuka Co in 1949 by a former military officer, Kihachiro Onitsuka. He was only 32 but wanted to promote athletics as a way of boosting self-esteem among youth in the post-war era.
First there was a basketball shoe resembling a straw sandal, but no one liked it, so Onitsuka came up with a better design. He noted the way basketball players are constantly starting and stopping suddenly and built cups into the soles of the shoes to improve traction. The result, unveiled in 1952, was a huge success.
Onitsuka Tiger has developed shoes specifically for football, running, martial arts, volleyball, track and field, wrestling, golf, cricket, fencing, tennis and even cheerleading, but it’s also kept up with fashion trends. The firm was a pioneer in giving sport shoes styles as well as comfort, offering mix-and-match possibilities.
“The most popular is the simply chic Mexico 66 with its signature tiger stripe,” Vorapan said. “It goes with almost any casual outfit and now it’s part of the big trend in ‘business casual’ attire combining jeans and sporty shoes.
“Onitsuka Tiger designs each model with that in mind, for the fans to be able to wear their favourite comfortable shoes on every occasion and look sophisticated, funky and cool. Onitsuka is actually a fashion-lifestyle brand that offers not only shoes but accessories, too.”
The shoes are easy to keep in |tip-top condition as well. Just dab the soiled spots with a little soapy water and use a soft brush to spruce them up, always brushing in the same direction.
The kangaroo leather requires more care, though, using lotions specially made for leather and available at most supermarkets.
“Next year,” Vorapan added, “Onitsuka Tiger fans can look forward to another big release when the brand celebrates its 50th anniversary. We can’t reveal what it is yet, but it will be very special.
“Also, LME is planning to bring Onitsuka Tiger closer to the fans next year with 40 stand-alone shops nationwide, as well as outlets in department stores. So there’ll be no need to fly to Japan anymore!”
-The Onitsuka Tiger Limited Edition “Nippon Made 2015” is available exclusively at the Onitsuka Tiger shop on M Level at Terminal 21.