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We have been building the OD roster to include some amazing new brands recently, from Urvin and Inception to Rasox. Despite all the pitfalls the past year put forth, there is one other Tokyo-based outfit we have built a relationship with over the past year, a premium loafer and insole combination from Liberato.
Conceived during Covid, and releasing their first range of products to the world in only May of 2021, Liberato is a young Japanese brand with big aspirations. The word Liberato is derived from Latin, and describes a ‘Free Man’ or 'one who has attained freedom'. A suitable name for a brand born out of the changing values and lifestyles brought about by Covid, but also speaking to the core ethos of the brand. The concept of taking a dress shoe like a classic loafer traditionally paired with suits or dress pants, and giving it the comfort and function of a slip-on speaks closely to the current climate of remote or flexible working environments and the global preference for a more casual aesthetic.
In a new and more flexible world, where hybrid working has become a norm, Liberato offer a unisex loafer that can easily be dressed up with a suit, or down with a summer skirt. In a world more conscious of sustainability, and with consideration for the natural environment, Liberato presents a slip-on loafer that pays homage to traditional Japanese materials, techniques, and craftsmanship. Liberato’s shoes are hand made by the skilled craftsmen of Nara, a peaceful city steeped in shoemaking history since the Edo period of the 17th and 18th century when Zori (Japanese sandals) were constructed.
Meticulously crafted from a high quality veg tanned eco-leather, the material is both functional & environmentally-friendly. No corners have been cut with the use of extra thick Vibram tank soles, which feature incredible grip to stand the test of time. The heel area is designed to exude comfort, consider functionality, while still remaining highly presentable in its overall aesthetic.
Lining the loafers are insoles crafted from tatami. While paying homage to the rich history of tatami mats in traditional Japanese homes, the novel idea also offers a profusion of benefits. They are hygroscopic; meaning that they absorb the moisture in the air, which results in a less stuffy shoe, particularly when sock-less. They have antibacterial properties, preventing both bacteria and odor. They retain heat to insulate the wearer's feet, and finally, the elasticity of the tatami makes for a revitalizing walk.
Despite the natural properties of Igusa, the plant from which tatami is derived, the proliferation of modern technologies has led to a steady decline of the tatami industry over the past few decades in Japan. The trend towards quicker, cheaper, and ultimately more harmful means of production is something that Liberato has taken a firm stand against. Liberato repurposes the tatami material into unique and beautiful insoles, which are environmentally friendly while supporting the hardworking farmers andShokunin (artisans) of the Igusa industry.