Recently I was given an opportunity to become a (shoe) monitor for a shoe company called Kamioka. Kamioka is a Japanese subsidiary of a Taiwanese shoe manufacturer that mainly takes OEM orders from shoe brands around the world. They manufacture shoes at own their factories in Taiwan and Laos, and from what I have seen in person and from photos, they are quite capable of making exquisite shoes.
Ingenuity/Shinsho shoes at Kamioka's Tokyo Showroom. Priced from ¥39900 ($399)
Samples of their upper-end, handsewn welted shoes, available for MTO.
Kamioka recently launched their own factory brand called Ingenuity, or Shinsho in Japanese, and the shoes I'm testing out is part of its inaugural collection. Basically, I was lent a pair of shoes to wear for a month or so, and over the course, I am expected to report my observation and to give some honest opinion. I'm not being paid to do this, but nevertheless quite ecstatic to be offered this experience. So I thought it would be great if I can share my experience here on SF, and post some pics along the testing period.
The box. Written with 'Shinsho', or 'Shen-jiang' in Chinese.
I selected a pair of plaintoe oxfords in brown Annonay calfskin to spend a month with. They are goodyear welted, with open channelled leather soles. The last (RE07) was designed by a Norwegian shoemaker who spent the past seven years in Taiwan instructing and guiding the young shoemakers of Kamioka. Designated as a 'comfort last', the oblique shape, the volumous toe, and the tightly supported arch seem to reflect the orthopedic knowledge of the shoemaker. He also designed the last with a compact heel to better accomodate Asian feet.
Plaintoe oxfords in brown calfskin. I just realized how good a round toe can look with a nice polish.
The leather (French Annonay calfskin) looks very uniform and tightly grained. I'll see how it fares after it gets creased and roughed up from wear.
A rather small throat and a cusped heel
The last. Oblique shaped, ample toe room, and a narrow waist.
The soles are done right by giving it a slight bulge.
Details. Fit and finish are excellent. Very clean job all around.
The pair shown above is currently priced at ¥39900 yen, or roughly $400 USD. They are not cheap (considering they are made in Laos), but from my initial handling, I think they are solidly made with high grade materials (usually reserved for shoes costing much more), and have an unique last that seem quite comfortable and tailored to fit Asian feet.
So this is how my test session starts. I've just started to break them in, and will do a report on them soon. Stay tuned!