Dutch Shoe & Leather Museum


International recognition for Shoe Museum's collection

Tokio Kumagaï bezoek A

Mr. Watanabe (r) and Mr. Okuno next to some Kumagaï shoes

In 1991, the Dutch Leather and Shoe Museum hosted the Tokio Kumagai Shoe exhibition. Kumagai gained a reputation for his singular shoe designs in the 1980s, both in Japan and in Europe. In 1987, at the height of his fame, he died at the age of just 39. His legacy, in the form of hundreds of prototypes, remained in the possession of Itokin, the Japanese group that administered Kumagai's label. More than 450 of these prototypes were donated to the Dutch Leather and Shoe Museum by Mr Minoru Watanabe, the managing director of Itokin, for the planned exhibition.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

In 2017 it will be 30 years since Kumagai's death. In memory of his good friend, Watanabe is currently organising a retrospective exhibition to be shown this autumn at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Together with Narumu Okuno, like Watanabe a great fan of Tokio Kumagai, he paid a visit to Waalwijk last Wednesday. Mr Watanabe reiterated his appreciation for both the permanent collection in the museum and the careful manner in which the shoes donated by him have been kept. Thanks to the years of care, Kumagai's shoes are still in the same condition as they were when they became part of the collection, and will have no problem forming the centrepiece of the exhibition in the city where Kumagai lived and worked in the 1980s.

 Watanbe en Okuno A

MoMu Antwerp

Furthermore, this is not the first time that the Dutch Leather and Shoe Museum has lent out shoes to museums abroad. At the moment there are many shoes from the Waalwijk collection on display in the Foot Print exhibition, in the ModeMuseum (MoMu) in Antwerp, which opened last Wednesday. Other places with exhibitions at which shoes from Waalwijk can be seen (now or in the near future) include Klagenfurt (Austria) and Hasselt (Belgium). It is interesting that both MoMu and Klagenfurt are borrowing Kumagai shoes from the Shoe Museum.

Some specimen from the Tokio Kumagaï collection