Sunday, August 06, 2006

Artisanal excellence: UK and Japan

Cottage industries have an economic stickiness in the factors of production, particularly in the supply of trained artisans. As a result, they tend to form organically and are difficult replicate (e.g. Savile Row for bespoke suits, Northampton for welted shoes).

However, there is an interesting case study of shoemaking excellence in one area (Northampton, England) being replicated and grown in another (Japan). Apparently a critical mass of Japanese cordwainers have returned from training in England to set up shop in Japan. The key driver of artisanal replicability appears to be the coexistence of a virtuous cycle of supply (trained artisans) and demand (discerning consumers).

This is discussed briefly in a StyleForum thread.

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