We're big fans of hand dyeing here at Redcast, and vulcanized sneakers are something of an obsession for us. We are always on the hunt for something a bit different. This limited edition from Pras is trying to figure out how to make your outfit look ready for a beach walk or a summer festival through hand tie-dye.
Every pair has been hand "mura" dyed by a craftsmen in Kojima, Japan. "Mura" (斑) is a Japanese word meaning "unevenness". Mura-zome is an ancient Japanese dyeing method similar to current western tie-dye processes. Once the sneaker is soaked in water, the dye solution is dripped by hand by skilled craftsmen onto the wet upper. Then, a spray of water is applied to blur the dye to create the perfect unevenness. This is followed by the colour fixing process, the washing and drying process, and the process of removing the dye solution from the sole, all of which are very time-consuming and labour-intensive.
After several rounds of dyeing and drying, they reveal a beautifully uneven dye pattern that embodies the Japanese cultural concept of Wabi-Sabi (appreciating the beauty in imperfection). As a result, each pair is unique, and you can expect some variation in pattern and colour.
This model features an upper doused in grey, black and beige hues. These beauties work perfectly with plain casual clothing and can add a great touch of colour to liven up your summer outfit.
The Shellcap Low Sneakers from PRAS (Paradise Rubber Athletic Shoes) have everything you could want from a made-in-Japan low-top sneaker. They have the bulbous shellcap toe box, and non-slip soles based on 1950s athletic sneakers and feature the kiln-fired vulcanization that can only come from Kurume, Japan. The 100% Hanpu cotton canvas upper is carefully woven in Kojima, using an old Toyoda GL9 shuttle loom.
The combined functions of the strong sole and upper bond, the hard to peel off sole, and the hard to lose form, are all created by the vulcanization method.
The vulcanization method is where the rubber sole and shoe body are joined together, and heat and pressure is applied in a sulfur-added kiln. At over 100 degrees Celcius for approximately one hour, pressure and heat are applied to the sneakers in the kiln. The ‘vulcanization method’ is carried out basically by hand, taking more labour and time and effort than you can imagine, so has bad production efficiency. Therefore, the number of companies using this method has decreased dramatically. Currently, it is said that including PRAS, only three companies in Japan are presently producing by the vulcanization method. They are manufactured in the same way as those provided for navy sailors in times of war. The vulcanized sole was giving them extra propulsion on the slippery platforms of the ships. It is a product of very high quality and extremely comfortable.
The factory in Kurume, which has near 150 years of history, will continue to protect the 'vulcanization method' and continue to share its good quality with the world. Each pair of these sneakers is akin to artisan ceramics.
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