Patina artist Tetsuya Sato on his inspiration, shoe trends and more

The Tokyo-based artist, who has worked with Berluti, held a demonstration in the city

Rashmi Rajagopal Lobo Published :  07th December 2018 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  07th December 2018 12:00 AM

Tetsuya working on a shoe

Tokyo’s Minato ward is home to a number of foreign embassies, local companies that are instantly recognisable across the world, think Honda, Mitsubishi, Toshiba and Fujitsu, and the Japanese headquarters of tech giants like Google and Apple. Amidst this bustling part of Tokyo sits an independent atelier, Brusque House, specialising in creating some of the best patina shoes and wallets, helmed by colourist and shoe designer Tetsuya Sato. 

Earlier this week, Tetsuya was in the city at Y&O Bespoke to demonstrate his hand-dyeing technique on leather shoes for select customers. Bridlen Shoes, a Japanese brand that is manufactured in Chennai, provided the canvas on which Tetsuya showcased his expertise. 

Tetsuya Sato and Mohamed Affan
Tetsuya Sato and Mohammed Affan hold up a pair of patina shoes

“Patina is a technique that needs to be done on a specific type of leather called crust leather, so we had to ensure he had the right raw material to work on,” says Mohamed Affan, the founder of Bridlen Shoes, who has collaborated with the patina artist in the past. Tetsuya, who started his career with the pioneers of patina shoes, Berluti, in 2009 is known for giving shoes a ‘cloudy’ effect, which resembles smoke. The technique brings out the shades of burgundy, brown, blue or green, while accentuating the shape of the shoe. He talks to us about the nuances of the technique, his inspirations and trends.

Tell us a little bit more about Brusque House.
Brusque House is a Japanese brand for shoes and small leather goods which was established in 2016. Since we started our business, we have paid homage to beautiful artisanal techniques, like patina. 

What are the different leathers you work with?
We usually use cow leather, but in selected cases, we also work with crocodile leather. Crocodile is a unique leather, and the results are also fantastic. 

What is your inspiration for the ‘cloudy’ palette? 
Everybody remembers their first flight, right? Seeing shapes of clouds through the window was a very significant experience for me and that’s where I find my inspiration from for this technique. 

What is the biggest shoe trend at the moment?
I think it’s getting more casual year by year. In Japan, the IT industry is the most preferred choice for employment and people who work in IT prefer to wear sneakers. So I highly recommend leather shoes with lightweight sponge soles. That way, you can be elegant but also very comfortable.

Give us a few examples of the best leather and colour pairings.
I love crocodile leather in our grey and calf-hide in Bordeaux. 

What are the challenges of working with different types of leather?
Leather is a very difficult material. For example, 100 per cent natural-hide leather has lots of tannin, so it tends to have a reddish tinge. So one must add more blue liquid to get the correct shade.

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