Onitsuka Tiger enjoys immense cultural cache. From royals in real life (Prince William has been spotted to around London wearing them on multiple occasions) to silver screen kings and queens like Bruce Lee, Jim Kelly and Uma Thurman among many others, the distinctive sneaker has entered cultural consciousness and remains as one of the rarified emblems of fashion that is not only sartorially relevant but historically significant.
In 2008, Onitsuka Tiger launched their NIPPON MADE, a high-end series promoting authentic made in Japan products produced right on the Tottori Prefecture coast in Japan. From Savile Row suits (Sebiro in Japan) to whiskey, Japanese artisans have a celebrated reputation for mastering any craft they put their hand to, Onitsuka Tiger NIPPON MADE pursues the same technical excellence, refinement, and extraordinary craftsmanship that have earned Japan-made products a loyal following globally.
Founded by military veteran Kihachiro Onitsuka in 1949, its appeal to men of great drive and ambition, relaunched as a fashion brand in 2002, its undeniable counter-cultural sneaker design embracing sleekness and eschewing chunkiness of anglo-saxon oriented sports shoes, made Onitsuka Tiger a fashionista’s default choice when it came to smart, casual footwear. The same qualities found in regular production Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 production lines take on even greater attention with its premium NIPPON MADE sneaker line which has developed a cult following since its introduction in 2008.
NIPPON MADE: Next Level Premium Onitsuka Tiger Sneakers
Debuting in 1961, the original Onitsuka Tiger Limber Up training shoe is the predecessor to te iconic Mexico 66. In the Japanese city of Sakaiminato, artisans with over 30 years of experience practice traditional skills such as manual buffing and leather cutting and stitching.
Each sneaker is individually made with attention to detail – the distinctive technicolour striping is applied by hand and then machine stitched. It’s at this point that an artisan, also known as a “closer” will include linings and any trimmings that the style of shoe demands. These could be anything from binding to elastics and lace holes, before the artisan folds the finished leather upper over the last and then secured into place. In the NIPPON MADE series, the rubber outsoles feature a herringbone pattern inspired by archival designs.
Needless to say, the NIPPON MADE line is on a level of its own, going back to its roots just like how it was in 1949 and producing select sneaker models inspired by archival and popular designs such as the Limber Up, Montreal II, and of course, the Mexico 66. A drive for innovation and thinking beyond convention has resulted in sneakers that are sartorial, durable and comfortable. The superior construction techniques used in NIPPON MADE creates details that naked eye cannot see but can be experienced from the pleasure in wearing these handmade sneakers.
Whether worn with a smart striped suit or casual ensemble, the wide selection of sophisticated sporty aesthetics exhibited in styles like the Mexico 66 Deluxe and Limber Up NM can be easily dressed up or down to suit the wearer’s mood and for any occasion.