Until recently, Takashi Murakami’s involvement in sneaker culture primarily involved adding his colorful graphic designs to the exteriors of shoes designed by other people. But this week, the Japanese artist released a pair that he designed from sole to shoelaces.
Called the TZ BS-06, the shoes are a little bit of a departure from the whimsical florals and bright colors Murakami is known for. And that’s because the shoes take their inspiration from another giant of Japanese culture: the anime show Mobile Suit Gundam. In the show, which debuted in 1979, there are several suits aside from the titular Gundam, and Murakami was inspired in particular by the Zaku, a green-hued humanoid robot built for military defense. (If perchance you’ve never seen the show, there’s a good explainer of what we’re dealing with here.)
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Murakami worked with Porter Yoshida & Co., the legendary Japanese maker of nylon bags and luggage, who called while he was working on the shoes to ask him to collaborate on a bag. He agreed, but asked the company to create eight detachable bags for the shoes in return. Wearers can use them to give the shoes some visual heft—and, of course, tote small goods in. The green bags reflect both the colors of the Zaku and their use as a defense mechanism.
The artist said in posts on Instagram that he initially got involved with the sneaker community when he met Complex founder Mark Ecko and collaborated with him on graphic designs for ComplexCon in 2015. When he showed up, he was shocked by how many sneakerheads recognized him and his work.
“I was completely taken by surprise, as I had no idea how they’d even heard of me,” he wrote. “Whatever the case, it turned out I was somehow popular among Sneakerheads! And so it seemed imperative that I made sneakers myself.”
If you want a pair, you can buy them for ¥64,800 (about $613 at current exchange) on Murakami’s website, Tonarino Zingaro.