Chie Mihara, from manga to women’s footwear

Chie Mihara, from manga to women’s footwear

2023-09-03 12:53:27

“The best pair of shoes is the one you wear until you destroy it”. This phrase of the protagonist herself is the philosophy on which she is based chie mihara’s empire, a Brazilian woman of Japanese parents who for 21 years has run a women’s footwear company that bears her name in the Alicante municipality of Elda with her husband, where she works as a creative designer, always with aesthetics and comfort as key points of success. . It was the manga that aroused his concern for creativity, later sculpture and, now more focused on what his profession had to be, his time in an orthopedics to know the anatomy in detail and conceive shoes and sandals that fit as a glove at the feet The result is a high-end brand that exports all over the world and, following the same criteria, has launched its first clothing collection for women this summer as well.

Mihara was born in Porto Alegre in 1968, three years after her parents emigrated to Brazil to work, first in the fields and, later, selling food. That is, nothing to do with the paths that her daughter would later travel. “Mine -remember- came from the manga. I liked to draw those faces with huge, bright eyes. So, at one point, it was clear to me: creativity and design had to be my thing.”

When she told her parents, they advised her to go to Japan, where, apart from prestigious schools, she could absorb the culture and language from which the family came. And said and done, since, with only 18 years, packed her bags to study fashion at Fukuoka Design School, where he graduated. From there she moved to Tokyo, becoming part of Junko Koshino’s workshop, an internationally recognized avant-garde designer for whom she was her assistant and pattern designer.

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“Tortured and Forgotten”

At a time when fashion had half become for her a story of passion and disappointment in equal parts, Mihara decided to move to New York to try sculpture. And although this phase did not last long, it was vital to enter the world of footwear. “In the end -he explains-, the shoes are like small sculptures. They have their structure, their solid heels, the toecaps with their shape. It is a perfect mix, in which fashion and design are also directly involved”. So the next step was to enroll in the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in the city of skyscrapers, where she specialized in accessories, and work in orthopedics, where she learned to respect her feet, many times, as she herself says, “tortured and forgotten”.

After two years in the shoe design department at Sam & Libby, he began collaborating with Charles Jourdan, a French luxury footwear brand that manufactured in Elda through which he arrived in the municipality in 1994. It was there that he met the man who would be her husband, Francisco Sanchis, linked to the sector, with whom she decided to create her own brand: she working as a designer and he as CEO.

The result of this pairing could not have been more positive, given that the company, which bears the name of the designer, invoices 15 million euros per year and exports 95% of its production, 65% to the EU and the rest to the US, Asia and Russia, mainly. It is also present in the main department stores, multi-brand boutiques and high-end shoe stores, such as El Corte Inglés in Spain, La Rinascente in Italy, Neiman Marcus in the US, John Lewis in the UK and Lumine in Japan. It generates 20 direct jobs, to which must be added more than a hundred indirect jobs both in Elda and in the rest of the region, taking into account that the firm makes all its items in this territory, considered the footwear cluster.

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And everything, emphasizes Mihara, through a fun, cheerful and whimsical proposal, in which comfort, he insists a thousand times, is a fundamental element. Fair the same philosophy that he applies in a new adventure in which he has entered, with the launch, this summer, of his first clothing collection. As he points out, “this project arose, basically, out of sheer necessity. I couldn’t find clothes for myself that I liked for day to day, and that’s where this collection of bright colors, minimalist lines and a touch of design was born. Urban clothing for the daily needs of mature women”.

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