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Taro Ishida: Reaching the “pinnacle of excellence” with luxury high heels

By Press Club


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Design 'Nephthys' Credits: TARO ISHIDA

Inspired by a fascination for “the way a woman’s demeanour, attitude and persona” transforms while wearing heels and driven by a passion for the psychology of brand building, designer Taro Ishida founded his eponymous brand in 2019. Balancing the act between creative obsession and entrepreneurial ambition, he has brought forward collections that are not only unique in design but also fill an undiscovered niche of the luxury market.

Sharply pointed toe shapes adorned with metal embellishments and semi-precious stones, flamboyant hand-dyed python leather, embossed velvet and imperial satin ranging from classic black, electric blue to fluorescent yellow, and golden embroidery reminiscent of brocade - the designs are not for the faint of heart. With their compelling silhouette, achieved by an optical illusion on the instep and towering 11mm-heels, they leave a lasting impression on wearers and spectators simultaneously. The crafting process of the heels is defined by exclusivity - the designs are finished by the hands of artisans in Italy.

In this interview, Taro Ishida gives an insight into the complexities of building a luxury brand, shares his vision on the symbolism of high heels and reveals the brand’s aims for 2024.

Designer and founder Taro Ishida Credits: TARO ISHIDA

"Redefining boundaries and defining prestige" is what you set out to do with your eponymous brand. How have you pursued this vision since founding in 2019?

Taro Ishida: Since inception, my mission has been clear: To create the first truly prestigious women’s footwear brand. My journey began with a profound realisation that true luxury women's footwear brands were conspicuously non-existent. True luxury for connoisseurs of the exceptional simply wasn’t available yet. In my pursuit, I set out to transcend the conventional limits to elevate women’s footwear on par with high-end bags, luxury watches, and high-jewellery. The cornerstone of this pursuit has revolved around selecting Italy's finest artisans, manufacturers, and suppliers and together reaching unprecedented levels of craftsmanship. Guided by this vision, and in pursuit of a new standard, I believe TARO ISHIDA is crafting a new era in women's high-end footwear.

What is it that fascinates you about building a luxury brand?

Taro Ishida: What captivates me about the journey of creating a luxury brand is the art of delivering the absolute pinnacle of excellence. It is more than simply crafting a beautiful shoe. Brand building involves a meticulously orchestrated symphony of elements. I enjoy choreographing the intricacies of brand psychology, strategy, marketing, precision manufacturing, and all operational aspects. At the same time, I think brand building ventures way beyond creating and selling something tangible. It requires being an architect of dreams, identities, and meaning. It sounds like a flight of fancy but it is an endeavour that requires a lot of dedication. The absence of a heritage to lean on demands a patient cultivation of brand awareness and a slow but gradual ascent to cultural significance. It takes time!

In your perception, high heels are designs that “heighten both the strength and fragility” of women. Could you elaborate on this vision?

Taro Ishida: At its core this is a visual metaphor that encapsulates the essence of the shoes I design. Precious objects can radiate tremendous power and delicateness simultaneously. I hope this quality extends beyond the shoes themselves to the individuals who wear them—seamlessly becoming an extension of their identity. I guess design can mirror life's intricacies.

A recurring phrase in the brand's manifest is: "Sublime melding of function and fantasy". Is this the ultimate essence of fashion?

Taro Ishida: I’m sure there is a grain of truth in this phrase I previously expressed. However, I exercise caution in its interpretation and defining it as the ultimate essence. While it holds merit, fashion is a realm that defies oversimplified adages. The well-worn proverbial mantras like 'form follows function' and 'less is more,' common in architecture and industrial design do not encapsulate the complexity and nuances present and can have tremendous consequences in the way design is approached.

A very distinctive design in your collection is ‘Lilith’ - as demonic as the name suggests, they are thigh high boots with sky high heels crafted from python leather. What was the vision behind this particular shoe?

Taro Ishida: Design-wise, the genesis of 'Lilith' stemmed from my desire to express the inherently seductive allure and a touch of sinuous essence often associated with thigh-high boots. The choice of material, painstakingly embroidered python leather, amplifies this even further. I suppose the name 'Lilith' possesses its own powerful blend of symbolism and intrigue, intensifying the aura even more. Undeniably, these boots cater to a very distinctive taste. They are designed for daring women who are able to confidently embrace their audaciously provocative shadow self.

Design 'Lilith' Credits: TARO ISHIDA

Taking a look into the future: Where do you see Taro Ishida the brand in the years to come?

Taro Ishida: True luxury is built through bricks and not through clicks. At present, our focus lies in planning our inaugural flagship boutique, most likely to open in Dubai. Through strategic injections by investors, we envision unveiling around 25 curated concession stores and boutiques within the next seven years in key cities around the world. As our brand gains substantial recognition, our offerings will naturally extend into a diverse array of refined treasures.

Read more about TARO ISHIDA on their brandpage
Taro Ishida