Japanese Shoes: Bespoke & RTW Super Thread

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by nutcracker, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. nutcracker

    nutcracker Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    1,820
    Likes Received:
    879
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Location:
    Taipei
    
    I don`t own SC shoes, but those who do, or want to get one, what do you think about them being made in Romania? I assume the factory craftsmen are trained/supervised by Michael Rollig / Phllip Carr and who not, and the workmanship is obviously top notch. Yet do you feel SC shoes are any less prestigious than if made in Austria, or Italy? Japan`s Union Imperial shoes, for example, are hand lasted and handsewn welted, like the SC (albeit not nearly as pristine), but in fact they are mostly made in Union`s factory in China. Obviously cheaper to hire, the Chinese craftsmen are nevertheless supervised and taught to the exact standard set by the Japanese veterans. The shoes are sent back to Japan for bottom stitching and detailing / finish. Union Imperial claims that their handsewn welted shoes, priced at a medium price of ¥50,000 or so, would cost ¥100,000 if completely made in Japan. I know some of you were interested in Union Imperial shoes. Now, knowing that they are hand lasted and handsewn welted in China, are they less desirable now?? vs 100% Made in Japan?? or are they more desirable now for seeming like a bargain?
     


  2. add911_11

    add911_11 Senior member

    Messages:
    2,995
    Likes Received:
    267
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2010
    

    Obviously, it will be always encouraging if I can find local made products with top end quality but reasonable priced. However, in terms of shoes, I usually disregard the price tag unless they are totally unreasonable, it is always the fit, material and construction that matters the most.

    Take an example, one of my favourite shoe brand is crockett & jones. Objectively, it is not as well made as St Cripins or any of my bespoke shoes, however C&J shoes (especially boots) are also realiable when you have a sensitive feet day, and they take barely no worn in period. On the other hand, with my other high end shoes, most of them only started to get comfortable after two occasions of blistering.

    I do like to support the small local trade, such as handcrafted furnitures.
     


  3. Ilovelobbs

    Ilovelobbs Senior member

    Messages:
    687
    Likes Received:
    69
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2013
    I own several pairs of SC shoes...At Y50K for shoes made in China,
    commissioned in Japan, it's def doable.

    I have been to Shanghai and had bespoke shoes made from as little as £150 - I gave them a design
    from Berluti's, they measured me up for 1 hour; called me 5-6 weeks later for 1st trial fitting and 4
    weeks later the finished product was superb. The only downside was the quality of leather
    available to pick from. They were sourced locally so inferior compared to the
    Frenchcalf Vass & C&J's uses.

    Had I supplied my own leather uppers and sole, the end product would have been better.
    Still £150 for bespoke you can't complain - I'll try and dig them out and post pics this weekend.

    Because we're talking about high-end luxury products/shoes being retailed at $500-$1000+++ the average
    Joe Blogg on the streets would put a higher weighting on where the shoes were made.
    There always a premium for stuff made in England; France; Italy...etc..
    And the premium to compensate for the high cost of labour; rent; materials..etc...

    To this day, I am still not sure how SC can justify charging €1000 for their handwelted shoes
    made in Romania. Maybe they are lots of Austrian expats...

    Vass on the hand is truly unique - handwelted shoes with similar calf grade (personally I think it's better)
    at €500 a pair is simply getting a lot of BANG for your WONGA.........If any of the the English makers were to
    throw away their welted machines and follow the Vass hand processes stitch by stitch; thread by thread,
    the production cost would exceed €500....Add 20% VAT for Mr Osbourne; rent; duty; tax - retail you're talking about €1000+
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013


  4. mimo

    mimo Pernicious Enabler

    Messages:
    7,438
    Likes Received:
    4,789
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    ^^ Definitely.

    But maybe Meermin is a better analogue - the same system: their "Linea Maestro" hand-welted range are welted in China, then returned for a machine-stitched sole and finishing at the factory in Spain.

    I've not bought any, though, as the finishing seems a little variable, and the logistics of a production process involving Spaniards supplying Chinese returning to Spaniards to finish to supply me, seems just a little lengthy and sounds like it goes astray quite often.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013


  5. nutcracker

    nutcracker Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    1,820
    Likes Received:
    879
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Location:
    Taipei
    I`m kind of interested in the human aspect of shoe making, so maybe I should reframe the issue of where the shoes are made.

    I often hear that Alden can only be made in USA. Great fitting and cosmetic flaws are all part of the charm that can`t be replicated if made elsewhere like Japan. Hence I want to believe that, like in tailoring, shoes also reflect the character and culture of the people who actually make them (especially when lots of handwork are involved)

    The issue I`m making is that SCs are designed by Austrians, and I assume in the tradition of the Austrian-Hungarian school. Yet they are made by a Romanian factory. Since I assume they are made by local Romanians, are there a certain Romanian aspect, culture, or spirit, that is reflected in SC shoes? Could that certain Romanian flavor enhance the charm of SC shoes? Am I thinking too much?

    Similarly, would a Chinese factory made Union Imperial shoes add something foreign, whether good or bad, to the Japanese shoes?
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013


  6. mimo

    mimo Pernicious Enabler

    Messages:
    7,438
    Likes Received:
    4,789
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    I'm not sure, but I am tickled by your idea that American culture is represented by flaws and mistakes, and the Japanese by unwavering perfection. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013


  7. add911_11

    add911_11 Senior member

    Messages:
    2,995
    Likes Received:
    267
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2010
    Japanese handmade goods, especially when they are selling it at high end market, always seeks to be flawless.
     


  8. nutcracker

    nutcracker Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    1,820
    Likes Received:
    879
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Location:
    Taipei
    
    I definitely did not want to imply that is the case for American (shoe) culture in general. I just pulled out Alden as an example because Japanese loves them so much. I`ve read Japanese article on Alden and Tricker shoes, trying to analize why they are such great shoes (or why the Japanese love them so much). One Japanese `expert` was perplexed, saying that that such obvious shoddiness in quality control won`t be tolerated in Japanese factories. Yet they agreed there was an undeniable rugged charm and sensibility that simply couldn`t be replicated even if they (the Japanese) tried to. Good quality control isn`t enough. Miyagi Kogyo`s knockoffs of Aldens are arguably better made, using a very similar last, but simply lacks the punch and the charm. Alden outsells Miyagi Kogyo by probably 1000 to 1 in Japan. In competing against imported shoes over many years, Japanese manufacturers have been quite aware of the stigma that their shoes are very well made, but lacks the style. Unlike English, Italian, American, Austrian etc... there is yet an established `national style` that defines Japanese shoes, despite a 140 year history of making fine dress shoes. They are still working on it, but may take a while more. Yet in the style department, I think we all acknowledge the outstanding efforts made by the younger generation of Bespoke makers. While I don`t know if the effect will trickle down to mass made shoes, I know the RTW manufacturers are trying very hard...
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013


  9. Makoto Chan

    Makoto Chan Senior member

    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    77
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Tokyo
    

    Pretty boggled by this claim (which I'm not pinning on you, of course). Sounds like meaningless patter in the form of a humble-brag.
     


  10. nutcracker

    nutcracker Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    1,820
    Likes Received:
    879
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Location:
    Taipei
    

    :lol: sure, there is always gonna be some kind of generalisation when someone is trying to decipher another culture (and possibly fall in the trap of stereotypes). Me included, who`s not guilty of that to some degree?
    But the fact is Alden sells like crazy in Japan, arguably the most in the world, and as you know, they are featured in every other issues of every men`s magazine for quite a few years. A recent MEN`S EX came with a little booklet, a little bible of short, of Alden Shoes. While the consumers obviously love them, these folks (from the Japanese shoe industry) seem to try making sense of it, and perhaps trying to figure out what they lack. Then theres a slew of Alden inspired shoes being made in:lol: Japan....
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013


  11. ThinkDerm

    ThinkDerm Senior member

    Messages:
    12,046
    Likes Received:
    585
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    
    History. Volume. Patterns. Horween. Pricing. Distribution. Advertising.

    That.
     


  12. Makoto Chan

    Makoto Chan Senior member

    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    77
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Tokyo
    

    Ha, yeah, I'd feel pretty beleaguered by Alden if I were them, too.
     


  13. nutcracker

    nutcracker Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    1,820
    Likes Received:
    879
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Location:
    Taipei
    These shoes are what I believe are some of the efforts trying to crack the Alden code

    MIYAGI KOGYO`s version of the Modified Last, aka the MD last. At least they openly credit Alden as an inspiration. The fit is actually less edgy than Alden, not as tight waist and bulging arch. They are available for MTO, with wide selection of sizes (up to 30), 6 widths, and a good selection of leather and 10 colors of Cordovan by Shinki Hikaku. Exotics are also available.
    Priced form ¥34,000 (under $350 USD) Shell version costs ¥64,000 or so (under $650)

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    In Burgundy Cordovan by Shinki Hikaku

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    More V-Tips

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Plaintoes in a highly recognisable banana shape

    [​IMG]
    Some non-Alden knockoff designs too
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2013


  14. Makoto Chan

    Makoto Chan Senior member

    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    77
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Tokyo
    Here are some shoes at a similar price point (around 40000yen, or $400 USD) from SHIPS, made by Hiroshi Tsubouchi. I think they keep the price low by only offering a few models in a few different leathers. I think the leather quality isn't that great, honestly, but in Japan it's a pretty good looking shoe for the price. I really like the shape. They also have cute details inside (little heart-shaped broguing).

    I took some photos of a double-monk in the shop today, and I saw this: it seems they are faux-straps, with an elastic attachment so you can just slip them on and off!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    You can see some more pictures here, or see more just by google searching "Hiroshi Tsubouchi Ships"
     


  15. Makoto Chan

    Makoto Chan Senior member

    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    77
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Tokyo
    There's a shoe shop in Osaka called "Old Hat" that offers MTM shoes and boots for a similar price, about 40000 yen, or $400. I thought the shoes looked very good in person. I don't recall the maker unfortunately, but I do remember that they are "made in Tohoku," which is the same region that Miyagi Kogyo shoes are made. The owner of the shop in Osaka was trained in the UK and speaks very good English. He's also a super nice and helpful guy. Here's a google-translated webpage.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013


Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by