HENDER SCHEME – A Conversation with Ryo Kashiwazaki


Hender Scheme Atelier Entrance

On a warm fall day in Tokyo, we embark on an long subway ride towards Inari-cho station. Located on a quiet street in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, the Hender Scheme atelier unassumingly fits right into its surroundings amid the craftsmen and factories of traditional Japanese industries the area is known for. As we enter the rustic wooden door of the atelier, we are greeted warmly by Ryo and his associate. Realizing it’s noon, Ryo suggests that we all go for lunch at popular soba restaurant nearby. Over some noodles, we sit and chat for a good hour about a wide range of topics. After getting to know Ryo, one gets a sense that this soft-spoken young man has the insight, work philosophy, and integrity well beyond his years.

Whether its housewares or sneakers, a Hender Scheme product gives you the impression that it was designed with the utmost attention to detail with importance placed on longevity and high-quality craftsmanship. With a design philosophy on creating beautiful, hand crafted leather products that age with the unique character and individuality of its wearer, Ryo goes against the traditional notion of discarding items as they age. There is a certain satisfaction and appreciation derived from wearing a pair of Hender Scheme sneakers for an extended period of time, slowly observing the way they develop a life and character of their user.

Ryo Kashiwazaki, Creative Director of Hender Scheme




“By understanding the two opposing aspects and finding a balance in concepts such as modernity vs. handcraftsmanship, or inhumanity vs. humanity, we can express ourselves through crafting shoes.”


Interview with Ryo Kashiwazaki

H: What was the initial concept for Hender Scheme? How did it come about?

RK: We started Hender Scheme in the Fall/Winter of 2010. The idea for this brand is to surpass ‘Gender’ – social and cultural expectations about sex – in designing and making products. We respect the physical and biological differences in sex, so we have different wooden molds for men and women. However, we have the same concept on aesthetics for men and women’s products, and thus the thing or matter has a dual nature. By not being biased and emphasizing on expressing ourselves, we are able to create a good balance between both sexes. By understanding the two opposing aspects and finding a balance in concepts such as modernity vs. handcraftsmanship, or inhumanity vs. humanity, we can express ourselves through crafting shoes.

H: ブランド、Hender Schemeはどのような考えから始まったのですか?そして、どのようにブランド設立に至ったのですか?

RK: 2010awからブランドをスタートしました。ブランドとして根底にあるのは、デザインにおける社会的性差(ジェンダー)を超えたモノ作りをするということです。生理的な性差においては、性差を尊重しているので、木型のワイズ等はメンズ、レディースで作り分けているのですが、見え方に関わる部分は共通して作っています。このように、モノやコトには二面性があってこのどちらにも偏らず、どちらの面も認めた上で自分なりのバランスで表現することに重きを置いています。モダンで無機質な空気と手工業によってでる暖かい空気のように相反する二つの面の両極面を自分なりの解釈とバランスで靴を介して表現しています。


H: Hender Scheme offers a wide range of products; where do you get your inspirations?

RK: Inspirations for designs come from what I think about and what I feel subconsciously in my everyday life.

H: Hender Schemeは様々な範囲でプロダクトを提供していますが、製品のための発想はどこから来ているのですか?

RK: 日々の生活の中で無意識的に感じていることや思っていることなどをふまえてデザインしています。


H: Many of your products have a clean aesthetic with an emphasis on craftsmanship. How did your passion to create artisan products develop?

RK: In Asakusa, Tokyo, where Hender Scheme’s atelier is located, there are historically many excellent leather craftsmen and factories as part of the traditional local industry. We make products by combining our ideas with their skilled techniques and knowledge. I actually worked at one of the factories for a few years before I started the brand in order to understand how craftsmen approach making their products. Because of this experience I have been able to smoothly transition towards my own designs.

H: Hender Schemeは 芸術的美学と共に職人の技を強く見受けることができます。熟練の技術までに達し製品を作るに至った経緯、またその情熱を持ったきっかけなどを教えてください。

RK: エンダースキーマのアトリエがある浅草は革産業が地場産業として歴史的に根付いているので、たくさんの優秀な職人さんや工場があります。その方達の、高度な技術や知識と僕らの発想や考え方をうまく合わせてモノ作りを行っています。職人さんたち作り手の考え方を理解する為に、ブランドを始める前に何年か工場で働きました。その経験を生かして職人さんたちと付き合わせてもらってるので、今ではスムーズに意識を共有出来るようになってきました。




Ryo’s workspace | Leather swatches and tools


H: Is there a reason why you chose to focus on leather as the primary material for your products instead of other textiles?

RK: Simply put, I like leather and enjoy making full use of it to make our products.

H: Hender Schemeでは織物などを使わずに皮製品が主になっていますが、その理由について教えてください。



H: One of Hender Scheme’s most popular series, the Manual Industrial Products, was launched not long after the brand’s creation. How did this concept come about?

RK: Our homage line aims to focus on the production processes of recreating those designs. We perceive the meaning of sneakers as manufactured products, but Hender Scheme purposely (dares to) makes the same looking sneakers with a different production process using handmade techniques. The idea for our design is to show the differences in appearances when produced by different means.

Sneakers are originally made as manufactured products, but when crafted by means of Hender Scheme’s handmade production techniques they are given distinctiveness. The individuality of each craftsman’s engagement in different stages creates an expression in each leather product – making them unique and unlike anything produced from mass manufactured products.

With this design approach going against people’s notion of discarding sneakers when they become old, we have expressed the essence of ‘aging leather’ using tanned cowhide. By utilizing vegetable tanning on cowhide, wearing out a pair of sneakers develops its own style and is a way to enjoy the characteristics of leather. Exchanging soles is possible, so you’d be able to wear the same pair for a long while.

H: Hender Schemeの中で特に人気のシリーズManual Industrial Productsはブランドが設立されて間もなく製作が始まっていますが、そのシリーズについて元々あったコンセプトなどがあれば教えてください。

RK: オマージュラインは、モノが出来る過程をデザインしています。スニーカーを工業製品としてとらえ、あえて全く同じ見え方をするモノを手工業という異なる生産背景で作ったときの見え方の違いをデザインしています。


H: The nature of your products encourages extended wear and appreciation; is there a certain lifestyle you would like to promote within the brand or amongst your supporters?

RK: I think that a good product should be enjoyed and used for a long time.  However, I also think that one’s lifestyle depends on the individual, so there is no particular lifestyle suggestion I would particularly give.

H:  Hender Scheme の本質として製品の長期着用 と、皮製品に対する深い認識 と理解が消費者に対して必要とされると思います。それに伴ってあるライフスタイルなどがHender Schemeからありますか?またブランド愛好者に対してライフスタイルの提案はありますか?

RK: 良い物を長く使ってもらいたいという思いがあります。しかし、ライフスタイルは個々にある物だと思うので、特に具体的に提案はないです。


H: Is there a reason you chose these particular models of shoes to recreate and not others?

RK: In order to showcase and focus on the visual variations from different production means without difficulty, we chose well-known and popular models.

H: Manual Industrial Productsシリーズのために使用されるモデル、模型を選ぶ時に、何か決まった理由などがあって選んでいますか?

RK: 最初は生産背景によって生まれる見え方の違いをよりわかり易く感じられるよう、イメージし易いモデルを選びました。

H: Each pair of Manual Industrial footwear is handmade in Japan; can you describe to us in depth the process of creating these uniquely constructed shoes?

RK: For the production of all MIP, we have specialists for each step specifically. Our role is a bridge-like mediation between craftsmen.

H: Manual Industrial Productsシリーズの靴はそれぞれ日本国内で作られています。その独特に作られた靴を製作するための過程を詳しく教えて頂けますか?
RK: MIPは全ての行程をその行程ごとのスペシャリストに頼んでいます。その職人さんたちの橋渡しを僕らがやっています。




H: There has been an increasing interest in the market for high-end/luxury sneakers like yours; what are your thoughts on these current trends? Has this affected your approach to design?

RK: I think that the most important thing is to express what we want to make and represent that honestly, so the products that we make are not affected by the current trends.

Of course trends affect sales in the market. However, we try not to follow the trend and rather design what we feel, so there is no particular desire to change our business philosophy. I work with a small and skillful team using the minimum amount of staff necessary.

H: 最近ではHender Schemeのような高級品指向の市場に対する興味、関心が高まって来ています。このような流行や、市場の流れに関して、何か独自の考えが あれば教えてください。またその流行や、人々の指向がHender Schemeの方向性、デザインなどに影響していると思いますか?

RK: 僕らは自分たちが作りたい物や表現したいことを表現するということを最も重要だと考えているので、作るモノが市場の流れなどに影響されることは特にありません。

H: Hender Scheme currently consists of a small handful of members. Is there a strategy behind keeping the team small, and is it something you will continue to do in the future?

RK:  My ideal is to be able to understand and grasp my team at a scale in which we can easily communicate with one another. Getting bigger is not necessarily of importance to us. We want to grow organically within.

H: Hender Schemeはわずかな人数構成で成り立っていますが、この背景には 会社戦略、またはその理由など何かありますか?また、将来的にも少人数構成を継続していくのでしょうか?


H:  One of your recent projects was the development of waterproof leather; can you tell us a little more about this? What are your plans in implementing this material?

RK:  For Spring / Summer 2014, we have made a few products using pig leather with waterproof coating by 3M, integrated during the tanning process. Depending on how it’s processed, leather is excellent for either water resistance or water repellency. For this season, we’ve made rain-wear such as rain caps and ponchos. I really wanted to make a cap for a rainy day.

H:  Hender Schemeでの最近のプロジェクトに耐水、または防水加工の革製品があることを紹介して頂きました。これについて、もう少し詳しく教えてください。またこの防水加工を利用した製品プランなど現在ありますか?

14ssでは3M社が鞣しの段階で防水加工を施したピッグレザーを何点かのデザインで使用しています。 このレザーは加工によって耐水や撥水がすごく優れています。今期はrain capとポンチョのような雨具を作りました。雨の日用のcapをどうしても作りたかったので




“I think that the most important thing is to express what we want to make and represent that honestly, so the products that we make are not affected by the current trends.”





“I just simply love to share the enjoyment of making things.”


Hender Scheme design sketches


H: You regularly teach workshop classes and were given the opportunity to travel to the Levi’s Station to Station studio to conduct these sessions. How important is it for you to promote these artisan techniques?

RK: I did a demonstration presentation for a Levi’s project called Station to Station of Maker’s tent. In Japan, I have taught workshop classes occasionally. I just simply love to share the enjoyment of making things.

Rather than just spreading the skill, I feel that passing on this enjoyment is of greater significance and I want to continue to do so into the future.

H: Ryoさんは定期的にワークショップを催し、カリフォルニア州のLevi’s Station to Station Studioでも行い、活動の幅を広げています。このように職人技術を広めることについて、どのような、またはどれくらいの重要性を感じていますか?

RKLevisのStation to Stationという企画のMaker’sというテントでデモンストレーションを行いました。日本でもワークショップなど不定期に行っています。単純にモノを作る楽しさを共有してもらえたらと思って行っています。





Ryo at work


H: What are some of your favorite places to travel for work, play, or to be inspired?

RK: I like Tokyo very much, it is the city that I reside in and it’s very exciting. It has a mixed culture with various different subcultures. The culture changes over time and even evolves, so it is messy in a good and fun way.

Asakusa has traces of Shitamachi (traditional) culture; in contrast, Shibuya and Shinjuku are chaotic, but all these areas are within Tokyo. It is very profound; I feel it is important for me to be in Tokyo.

H: Hender Schemeのための新しいアイディア作り、または 観光目的でもかまいません。Ryoさんにとって、 お気に入りの旅先や場所はありますか?




“Asakusa has traces of Shitamachi (traditional) culture; in contrast, Shibuya and Shinjuku are chaotic, but all areas are within Tokyo. It is very profound; I feel it is important for me to be in Tokyo.”




Various Hender Scheme footwear models


Waterproof Leather Rain Poncho developed by Hender Scheme



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H:  The brand has been successful in producing some amazing accessories and footwear. What are your future plans for the direction of the company?

RK:  What I have in mind right now is to continue doing our job the best we can. Other than that, we have many ideas that we have not done yet, so I want to give shape to these ideas.

H:  Hender Schemeは現在、素晴らしい靴やアクセサリーの製作で、大変人気のあるブランドになっています。将来の製品プラン、または、この先の会社の方向性に関する具体的な構想はありますか?

RK: 今心がけている丁寧なモノ作りを継続すること。あとは、たくさんたまっているアイディアを具体的に形にしていきたいです。


H:  Do you have any last words or anything else you would like to add?

RK: SS14 should also be interesting, so please have a look. Best regards.

H:  最後に何かメッセージなどあれば御願いします。

RK: 14ssも面白いので見てみてください。よろしくお願いします。




Arthur Chmielewski
Daniel Chmielewski

Photography and Foreword
Daniel Chmielewski

Jefford Lam
Nguyen Le

Norihisa Hayashi

Special Thanks
Ryo Kashiwazaki