The fascinating history of the Japanese footwear brand Moonstar traces all the way back to 1873 when Unpei Kurata founded it under the name of Tsuchiya Tabi. The humble beginnings saw Kurata and his wife crafting traditional Japanese tabi socks from a small store in Kurume City.
A visionary, Kurata was committed to research and innovation and was one of the first in Japan to introduce a sewing machine to streamline the tabi production process. Following his passing, the Kyushu Mainichi Shimbun (Daily News) featured an obituary titled 'King Tabi Passes Away.'
With continued success and growth and under the brand's third president, Taizo Kurata, who in 1920 came across canvas and rubber shoes being manufactured in the United States. Recognising the potential, he brought this technique, named vulcanising, back to Japan and applied it to the traditional Japanese split-toe shoe known as jika-tabi. These shoes were commonly worn by construction workers, farmers, and labourers due to their durability and sturdy construction.
The vulcanisation process draws parallels with pottery, as it involves baking the shoes in a kiln during the final stage. Initially, the canvas is cut and stitched together, followed by attaching the foxing and sole to the upper using rubber adhesive. Once the components are assembled, the shoes undergo a 70-minute firing process at 120 degrees within large ovens. Amidst the intense heat, a chemical reaction occurs within the rubber, causing sulphur to irreversibly bind and fuse with the canvas.
As the years went by and the brand's portfolio expanded significantly, Taizo incorporated the vulcanising method into new Western-inspired designs, including athletic shoes, rubber boots, and eventually children's and women's footwear. This move opened the doors to exports, making their products available to a global market.
The pivotal moment and the origins of the brand that we know today came when the brand first used the name Moonstar and made the decision to exclusively focus on producing high-quality vulcanised footwear. This strategic shift proved to be a turning point in the brand's history, propelling Moonstar to become one of Japan's most renowned shoe brands over the following decades.
Today, Moonstar's commitment to quality has ensured they have remained at the forefront of the Japanese footwear industry.
For AW23, Trunk introduces one of their most versatile models, the SLOC. This sneaker-chukka boot hybrid is crafted from water-resistant durable cotton canvas uppers with moc toe construction and sits atop a vulcanised rubber sole and foxing, making it perfect for the transition to autumn and winter.
Shop Moonstar shoes here.