Japanese artisans have a storied reputation for perfecting their craft down to the most minute of details. Many craftspeople often dedicate their lives in pursuit of technical excellence, refinement, and exemplary execution—hallmarks of craftsmanship that have earned Japan-made products a loyal demand worldwide.
These same qualities anchor Onitsuka Tiger’s Nippon Made. While the coveted Japanese sports shoe label—founded by military veteran Kihachiro Onitsuka in 1949—has garnered popularity due to its classic-meets-sleek footwear options, Onitsuka Tiger relaunched as a fashion brand in 2002, and its premium Nippon Made sneaker line has particularly amassed a devoted following since its introduction in 2008.
So what is it that sets the line apart, exactly? Its melding of superior quality and style. For one, the range is inspired largely by archival and fan-favourite shoe designs such as the Limber Up, Montreal II, and of particular note, Onitsuka Tiger’s Mexico 66. Combined with an exacting construction process, one can expect a product that is both fashion-forward and durable.
It all starts in the Japanese city of Sakaiminato in Tottori, where an unrivalled quality of sneakers are crafted by artisans with over 30 years of experience. This includes difficult-to-master skills such as manual buffing and leather handiwork.
The sneakers are then finished off in the city of Higashiosaka, Osaka, by Sagawa Crafts, a traditional factory that has specialised in treating leather, apparel, and accessories since 1972. Numerous techniques which have been honed through time and dedication are applied by hand to these shoes individually, ranging from dyeing and colouring to washing. As a result, each shoe is finished with a distinct and deliberate worn-in patina, ensuring that no two pairs are exactly the same.
Technical finesse aside, it is the fashion-forward versatility of Onitsuka Tiger’s offerings that have earned it its stripes in the style sector. Popularised by the likes of martial arts maven Bruce Lee and movie star Uma Thurman, it is now seen on fashion aficionados like Jared Leto and Willow Smith, too.
Whether worn with a sharp pantsuit or a casual dress, the styling sensibilities of the Nippon Made range lends effortless ease and elegance to any outfit. The wide selection of sophisticated and streamlined sporty styles such as 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.
And if you’re in the mood to switch things up? Choose between low-cut, high-cut, or slip-on and colourway options that range from navy and lime green to muted grey. Some of our personal favourites include the rich Moal 77 NM in peacoat and neon lime and the Limber Up NM in white, red and blue. Chances are you’ll have all your bases covered.
Get a closer look at the craftsmanship of Onitsuka Tiger’s Nippon Made shoes
Onitsuka Tiger’s Nippon Made shoes are available for purchase online and at select stores worldwide, including Tokyo’s Omotesando, London’s Regent Street, Milan’s Corso Como, and Singapore’s Ngee Ann City mall.
Photography: Daniel King
Styling: Xander Ang
Writer: Jasmine Ashvinkumar
Hair: Shin Arima
Make-up: Charlotte Willer
Model: Vanessa Tyagi/Women Management
Styling assistant: Victoria Garcia
Casting director: Shawn Dezan