Yuketen leather smock on Ryan. Unfortunately not for sale. Text by Pete Anderson Photos by Albert Thomas and Dan Chaparian. The first floor of the Angel Orensanz venue for (capsule) is the open nave of a cathedral-style synagogue cleared of pews, and it's bustling midday, with a lot of diffuse light and a couple dozen lines showing their wares. Walking up a few levels, I'm closer to the weathered brick and woodwork of the clerestory, and the displays are cozier and the light warmer. It makes sense that Albert and I find Yuki Matsuda's lines there--Yuketen shoes and Monitaly clothing. Matsuda's brands have a California headquarters but a northeast state of mind, and they're best viewed next to some gentlemen in leather work aprons with the sound of wood planks creaking softly underfoot. Yuketen's lineup filled shelf after shelf with American-born shoes. Matsuda says the style is strictly American midcentury in character--he does other shoes but saves them for his other brands. He's a busy guy. His business, Meg Company, runs not only Yuketen and Monitaly but also Santo Domingo Boot Company (western and rockabilly styles made in Mexico (on purpose!)), Chamula (scarves and sweaters), and others. Yuketen's shoes, all made in the U.S., are not merely comfortable sitting fireside in a Berkshires cabin or padding around Portland--the new collection includes loafers with punk rock studs shining where a penny otherwise might, hair-on-hide ring boots, and milspec style boots and oxfords. Yuketen will also offer accessories for fall/winter 2010, including small leather goods and a variety of bags. When I expressed interest in a backpack in bright red wool, Yuki, besmocked, took it down to show off. The pack has plenty of space inside, with raw leather straps and trim and a large leather badge reminiscent of Duluth Pack's. Tough hardware in my soft, ladylike hands. Yuki gently corrects my misapprehensions. That's a magazine pocket, not a laptop pocket. It's also available in gray and black. Note also messengers and leather bags to my right. Albert and I moved on to let Yuki and Ryan (also of Meg Company) talk with some store reps. There was plenty to move on to. To the detail-obsessed, the range of Yuketen's shoe line was almost overwhelming. Snake boots sat on one level of the box shelves, above native moccs with tyrolean cloth trim, with penny loafers--some biz-cazh-fri appropriate, others appropriate for a show at nearby CBGB (RIP). Yuki Matsuda's baaadddaaaasss shoes. T The "Keith" boots has an oversized, peaked captoe. Some combinations are immediately appealing. The stud loafers have some edge; double leather soles give ring boots a city feel; the scotch grain, lactae- soled loafers are perfect for the tweed-and-elbow-patch crew (lactae soles are made from "milk" of the hevea tree, and here have a rounded, commando-style tread--soft and durable). Others veer toward overdesign. A hunt boot with faux wingtip panels; an overabundance of hair-on-hide and animal prints. Yuki's collection is cohesive in its eclecticism. I understand it's a tree, but still, milk? The "Paul" monkey boot. I dig. Mike Kuhle from Epaulet marvels at a pennyloafer of shell cordovan in brown and black. The true oneshoe? Moccasin shapes dominate. These pack in a toe bumper, ghillie lacing, and an ankle strap. Maybe he could've added heelie wheels. Somewhere, someone has been waiting for high-quality, animal print, hair-on-hide pennyloafers. I bet that someone knows Brian Setzer. Kiltie moccs with crepe wrapped sole. Adele Berne from Epaulet checks out some captoes while the stud loafers lurk out of focus. Yuki and Pete. I think at this point I was begging for free shoes. Nudge nudge. Yuketen shoes are carried at Opening Ceremony, Bergdorf Goodman, Steven Alan, Holt Renfrew, Oi Polloi, and the Bureau, among others. ALSO CHECK OUT OUR Q+A WITH YUKI MATSUDA, AND PREVIEW OF MONITALY F/W2010.
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1/24/10 at 7:02pm