"My vocation was born from leather hand made stitching"
by Yosuke SHIBUYA
It has been over ten years since Yosuke Shibuya first set foot inside Maison Jean Rousseau’s Japanese workshop. Extremely demanding, Yosuke is the first craftsman we think of when a client commissions a bespoke watch bracelet or leather product. Dropping his usual reserve, Yosuke reveals the source of his inspiration and the values which guide his work.
As far as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by the ability of craftsmen to create an item from raw materials, patiently put together with great rigor. My father, who was himself a carpenter, is the original source of my love for this profession. Very soon, I had built my professional life surrounded by people working with their hands: first within a craft materials store, then with bag designers before I joined Maison Jean Rousseau. I am grateful to all the craftsmen I have met through my various experiences for the lessons they taught me: working with the materials, the symmetry and equilibrium of an item, the attention given to each measure. However, it is when I discovered the fine art of leatherwork and its handmade seaming, stitch after stitch, that I truly found my vocation.
“However tiny the details may be, we must perceive and understand them all”
At the beginning of an item, I am interested in the raw materials and beveling. Beveling is the process by which we reduce the thickness of a leather skin without weakening it: it is the key to a successful creation. One only needs to observe a watch bracelet to see that despite its simple appearance, it cannot hide any mistake. The stitching, the form, the balance, the curve and the nature of the skin, all these details are crucial to make a beautiful piece in line with our clients’ expectations.
The feeling when wearing the bracelet also deserves our full attention. The choice of the material will have a great influence on the touch. I remember the words of a craftsman working in jewelry: “To realize the pattern of a flower or a petal, you need to observe it, to touch it and feel its texture, its softness, its roughness.” However tiny the details may be, we must perceive and understand them all. Whether I create a bracelet, a wallet or a purse, what matters to me is not only fabricating a well-done piece but an item that my clients will enjoy using and wearing.
“Talking to our clients often leads us to a greater idea.”
The extreme precision of the custom-made activity at Jean Rousseau has taught me a lot. Beyond our unique work environment, the possibility to be in direct contact with our clients within the Boutique helps us to be as close as we can to their needs and desires. When I am in charge of the creation of a piece, I have long discussions with its future owner. Together, we often have a great idea that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. The feeling of joy and pride that comes with it is very strong. This willingness to always innovate and develop my skills is precisely what guides my life as a craftsman but also as a human being.