March 19, 2017

United Arrows is a very influential trendsetter for global men’s fashion – in Pitti Uomo it is an absolutely must touch base with asset for one to really get to know what’s really happening in the men’s fashion scene not only in the AP region but also in Europe and the US as well.

As not only is their network very extensive. But so is their sphere of influence in setting both the instructional and directional trajectory of where men’s fashion should go.

To me, United Arrows is a very perculiar outfit….even for a Japanese brand – on one hand it’s very bureaucratic, hierarchical and even top down.

For example every year without fail – they send me two shirts and it’s been happening for yonks…this is very characteristic of traditional established Japanese firms like Toyota or maybe Panasonic.

On the otherhand, United Arrows is still able remain very creatively fluid and holistic in virtually every aspect of both men and women’s fashion simply because it subscribes to a very old philosophy that puts a disproportionate weight on personality driven leadership.

There are I believe many valuable lessons to be gleaned from this.


‘There’s nothing much to be said about my core line of business which is plantations – it’s very traditional and perhaps even steeped in conservationism…which is really just a polite way of saying it’s in a sort of permafrost semi stasis state where work can at best be described in terms of a happy litany.

But even then it’s conceivable, for one to really excel in this field and it may be argued as well, any other vocation or even object of interest one devotes oneself too….I think it’s absolutely necessary to have a philosophy as to where one sees oneself alongside the enterprise and the broader question of the industry at large.

So there you have it the small and big picture…maybe what I am trying to describe here is a bit fuzzy. Do bear with me…

For example when I reflect back on my hobby of painting shoes – it didn’t really make much progress in the beginning. Not meaningful one’s at least, where others would seriously considering voting with their wallets…till maybe when I began to flesh out some semblance of how and what I really wanted my work to convey….paradoxically not to others. But specifically to myself.

I mindful that may come across as terribly selfish, self centered and narcasstic. But that really my point – one has to be a bit selfish when it comes to crafting a philosophy. Possessive even.

To cut a long story short. I had begun to flesh out the rough outline of a philosophy which appealed to me. That allowed me to infuse my work with deep and thoughtful experiences which all belong to me and not the world concerning what and how I really wanted to create.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say I no longer cared about what others were doing. Or even how they may be dressing their shoes. But suddenly….all that business of looking out side myself just dropped away and the only thing that remained was what I was trying to accomplish along the with the motivation behind….the artisanal life is very lonely.

A man working at night under the solitary wan of just an incandescent light bulb driven solely by his philosophy.

That attitude eventually became The Central theme of my work.

I didn’t realise it at that time. I am a bit slow with these things. Only because I was always looking at this and that and saying to myself, that’s nice….maybe I will go there and do that thing. And for a very long time with that sort of vapidness that clings to one’s work it’s not unusual for no one to take much interest in my work. Or even bear out patiently what I may have to say concerning why I continue to do the things I do.

But the very moment I began to stand alongside the clarity of the philosophy and drew nourishment from it – which was mine in the sense that it was a journey of self discovery thru my work and not just something that I’ve managed to cobble together like some patch work blanket from the rest of the world – to create very naturally painted shoes that seemed almost to capture the tone of aged leather along with it’s many fascinating layers of depth, chatoyancy and richness which could only come from the chastening passage of time…..the moment I drew inspiration from a moss covered rock in nature. The way the last dying light clings to a leaf with a bronzed melancholy. The slightly crooked tilt of an old work shed that I once came across during my morning walks. Suddenly. I found that people took a keen interest in my work.

Suddenly that sphere which was my work was infused with uncanny clarity that enabled me to see things that others can never see – that was really what allowed me to distinguish myself from other shoe artist. Suddenly people started to say – if you want that…then only he can deliver the goods…he specialised in that area.

Suddenly the whole universe that was work was no longer just something that it used to be where I would say to myself this or that is nice and I would just follow it. Instead I had begun to develop my very own style that defined me as an artisan in my own right….I will go my own way and do my own thing.

I guess what I am trying to say is one can really only make real and meaningful progress in ones work when one discovers the importance of having a philosophy.

What’s your philosophy?

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