So I've had these shoes for a little over one month, and I made sure they saw quite a bit of action (probably 20 days of wear). Here are some of my thoughts to wrap up the occasion for now...
The shoes' last (RE07) was designed by a Norwegian shoemaker for Kamioka/Turnright
. I was told he incorporated his knowledge of medical orthopedics to create a last that was tailored for Japanese/Asian feet. Spending a month with these shoes, I am completely sold, in terms of the comfort level. The shoes have more than ample room to wiggle my toes, the waist support is superb, and the heel cup is snug and tight.
I do appreciate the orthopedie tradition in European shoemaking (esp. German), but I don't find the silhouette of this last to be particularly suitable for dress shoes. The toe is basically shaped like a perfect semicircle. For my particular pair, I think the plaintoe design and the cognac color helped pull off an informal/casual look. Although I do dig them, they may have looked even better as a blutcher
(instead of an oxford).
Again, I have to mention how impressed I am with the leather. The Ingenuity collection uses Annonay's Vegano
calf almost exclusively, and suedes are sourced from C.F.Stead.
So it does somehow come down to the pricing. Ingenuity shoes are sold for ¥39900 ($400 USD), which seem quite generous considering the leather used.
The shoes are made in Laos
, and the the low cost of operation is what keeps the price at bay. Judging from what I see here in person (including some high-end jobs for display), as well as from what I hear about the D.C.Lewis
shoes (made at the same factory), I know the shoes are made to a very high standard of quality.
There are a number of European and Japanese brands that offer excellent selection in this mid-tier price range (¥40K~¥50K). Japan's very own Miyagi Kogyo shoes are mostly priced in this range too. I think Ingenuity/Shinsho shoes do indeed offer an excellent value proposition, with one reservation. Kamioka is a relatively young brand, and I think they're still searching for an identity. I see 3 or 4 completely different lasts being offered side by side, with a set of designs exclusive to each of them. While I was told the RE07 last, which my shoes are on, was designed exclusively for the launch of the Kamioka
in Japan, some other lasts and designs were presumably taken from Turnright's archive of prototypes and past OEM work. Understandably, they don't have a cohesiveness in their collection as some established brands do.
Some of the other offerings by Kamioka. Interesting, yes, but may be a bit too quirky for some.
The 2 best selling
Ingenuity models, both happen to look very English
. I would like to see Kamioka expand more in this direction...
While I may sound a tiny bit critical, I am very optimistic about their future offering. The two models above (I've tried them both) are quite excellent, and in my opinion, should be offered in other variations. The adelaide semi-brogue shoes in the egg toed RE08 last looks particularly 'classic'. I can envision the same last used on straight tip oxford or brogue shoes.
Ingenuity's cousin across the pond, D.C.Lewis
, seems to show what Kamioka is capable of by spending just a little more on each shoes. Priced around $475 (if I recall properly), I think they use even higher grade leathers, as well as finer details such as closed channel / fiddleback waists. I also find their sleek lasts (101 and 102) and their limited but classic styled patterns to be well thought out and handsome.
D.C.Lewis / Kent Wang Handgrade in Ilcea Radica calf. $475 USD
D.C.Lewis / Kent Wang Handgrade in Crocs. costs a bit more than the above.
I really like what Turnright/Kamioka
has been doing for D.C.Lewis, and I think they should consider doing something equal for their own brand. Turnright
is quickly becoming one of the foremost OEM shoe manufacturer in the world, and I think OEM will remain as their core business (and hence the focus of their efforts). So far their RTW shoes are offered in a very limited fashion, namely in Japan and in Taiwan. If they are really serious about expanding their market and turning the world's RTW
shoes market upside down, in my opinion they definitely have what it takes.
While this concludes my informal diary/report on the Ingenuity/Shinsho shoes for now, I will definitely keep wearing these shoes. I will try to give some updates on my shoes from time to time, and would also be happy to take questions and comments. I would like to thank Kamioka (and their wonderful staffs) for giving me this opportunity!