Rooted in tradition, Shoes Like Pottery has been handcrafting canvas sneakers in their Kurume, Fukuoka studio since 1873. With a reputation for artisanship, the kiln-fired shoes are fitted with a bevy of signature details including a stamp logo decal that depicts the magic hammer of the Japanese deity, Daikokuten. Legends say that when swung, this mallet grants the wishes of its holder, and bears the gift of everlasting luck. In search of a full indigo-dyed shoe for years, here at Blue Owl Workshop we knew we'd need a little more help than what Daikokuten could offer to make our wish a reality.
Enter Kathy Hattori, CEO of the Seattle-based dye-house Botanical Colors. For decades, Kathy and her team have supplied some of the biggest names in the industry with their expertise in dying everything from denim, to t-shirts, to shoes. Since the start of Botanical Colors, Kathy has been a vocal advocate against wasteful industrial dyeing, also known as “wet processing,” instead focusing on biodegradable dyes that use less water and produce a richer color than synthetic alternatives. Readying natural dyes is a timely process, one that requires months of preparation and knowledge of the craft. Leaves are picked, chopped, and fermented months in advance in order to create the perfect dye. For Kathy, having control over this process is important, which is why she has partnered with local farmers in the rural town of Carnation, WA to cultivate indigofera plants exclusively for Botanical Colors.
The process begins in a tub of water, where each each shoe is soaked until the canvas is soft and ready to take the indigo dye. After a few hours, the shoes are moved to the indigo vat, where each pair is gently placed upside down and keep afloat through the buoyancy of the rubber soles. After three hours, the shoes are removed from the indigo vat, revealing the striking sea green color that will become a robust blue through its exposure to oxygen. After each shoe has been drained, they are placed in the drying rack, where they are left to dry for 48 hours until the canvas is firm and the color of each shoe is a dark blue. The shoes are then packed into their original box, each with their respective indigo-dyed laces and gradient dyed canvas bag, and ready to be worn.
Inspired by vintage denim, this limited edition collaboration is the product of a year’s pursuit to show the many adaptations of natural indigo, beyond denim itself. The result is a marriage of Japanese and American artisanship in the form of a beautifully crafted shoe — one that will fade to become a truly one-of-a-kind garment, just like your jeans.
Shoes Like Pottery x Blue Owl Workshop
01JPB High Top Sneaker in Natural Indigo Overdye
Dyed in Seattle. Made in Japan.
The signature high top sneaker from Shoes Like Pottery is a flexible and durable canvas sneaker crafted in Japan. This limited edition Blue Owl Workshop collaboration was over-dyed using natural indigo dye from Carnation, WA and dyed in Seattle. As a result, many of the original details have been altered in color, all of which will fade to a rustic blue with wear, just like denim. Kiln-fired using the "Ka-ryu" technique, and fitted with reinforced heels and toes, cushioned in-sole, and the brand's signature contrasting blue sole.