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Japanese Shoes: Bespoke & RTW Super Thread

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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I wasn't even upset solely because they didn't want to use the correct HTC that I referenced. I was upset because they never planned on using it from the beginning and never told me about it. They could have easily told me that they would not use my HTC code before shipping the order and then we either could have discussed what the issue was or go over my options.
Can it be disconcerting was an understatement then? As the story unfolds, it becomes increasingly negative.
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Hahaha, there's more but I won't go into details. They probably are a great shop but they were definitely sloppy with my order which turned me off.
I strongly believe this sort of information is important. Of course this little episode may have been an aberration, but if someone else experienced a similar challenge then... 🤔. Once is an accident two is a trend.
 

obc28.5

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My impression, in other words, is that while the high end of Japanese shoemaking is phenomenal, the middle tier might not be worth going far out of your way for.
My experience also. My theory is the middle end of the market is aimed at the general consumer looking for a little better "business shoe" than the cemented sole bicycle stitch pair he used to wear, and wanted something Made in Japan- he hears about Scotch Grain or Shetland Fox from a co-worker or something he saw on a blog or one of the numerous mens fashion mags. It suits him as the styles are conservative so won't raise eyebrows at work and the fit/lasts are marketed as "matched to the typical Japanese foot shape" (increasingly archaic as young peoples feet are changing i.e. narrower and longer, but I suppose still applies to those 40~50+ who are the main clientele). And most importantly, the price is right, about 30000+ yen so the wife can be persuaded to loosen the purse strings with a little cajoling.

As we are talking about the average consumer so far, on the flip side there are the enthusiasts, which are more analogous to the readers of this forum- they will be more interested and drawn to the RTW imported shoes-J.M. Weston, Alden, Crockett & Jones, Cheaney, Trickers, Spanish makers and such. They are educated in the differences in grades of calf leather, and prefer the quality and aging characteristics of the European tanners products over domestic skins. They are considerably more knowledgeable in shoe matters than the average consumer, and their shoe preferences will show that. If they consider Japanese makers, they will be looking at bespoke or MTO like Joe Works, who source their leathers from Europe.
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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My experience also. My theory is the middle end of the market is aimed at the general consumer looking for a little better "business shoe" than the cemented sole bicycle stitch pair he used to wear, and wanted something Made in Japan- he hears about Scotch Grain or Shetland Fox from a co-worker or something he saw on a blog or one of the numerous mens fashion mags. It suits him as the styles are conservative so won't raise eyebrows at work and the fit/lasts are marketed as "matched to the typical Japanese foot shape" (increasingly archaic as young peoples feet are changing i.e. narrower and longer, but I suppose still applies to those 40~50+ who are the main clientele). And most importantly, the price is right, about 30000+ yen so the wife can be persuaded to loosen the purse strings with a little cajoling.

As we are talking about the average consumer so far, on the flip side there are the enthusiasts, which are more analogous to the readers of this forum- they will be more interested and drawn to the RTW imported shoes-J.M. Weston, Alden, Crockett & Jones, Cheaney, Trickers, Spanish makers and such. They are educated in the differences in grades of calf leather, and prefer the quality and aging characteristics of the European tanners products over domestic skins. They are considerably more knowledgeable in shoe matters than the average consumer, and their shoe preferences will show that. If they consider Japanese makers, they will be looking at bespoke or MTO like Joe Works, who source their leathers from Europe.
Actually you bring up an interesting point. Leather.

I have handled Japanese Shell, and it seems pretty good. So, I would feel totally confident were I to commission something with it (although at this point I dislike Shell haha).

Japanese leather does comes off as finer-grained and softer than most European leathers, especially German leathers which are board stiff at times. That said, I believe this stiffness, heavier hand feel, and the finished tanned resultant leather is what Japanese prefer.

I will say that on the lower end upwards through the upper end, Japanese commitment to quality is second to none. There is this emphasis on producing the best possible product coupled with unparalleled meticulousness, but it does come at a cost.

I was under the impression the import fees of European leather had dropped significantly in Japan? This could lower prices perhaps.
 

j ingevaldsson

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Actually you bring up an interesting point. Leather.

I have handled Japanese Shell, and it seems pretty good. So, I would feel totally confident were I to commission something with it (although at this point I dislike Shell haha).

Japanese leather does comes off as finer-grained and softer than most European leathers, especially German leathers which are board stiff at times. That said, I believe this stiffness, heavier hand feel, and the finished tanned resultant leather is what Japanese prefer.

I will say that on the lower end upwards through the upper end, Japanese commitment to quality is second to none. There is this emphasis on producing the best possible product coupled with unparalleled meticulousness, but it does come at a cost.

I was under the impression the import fees of European leather had dropped significantly in Japan? This could lower prices perhaps.
IME and from what the Japanese factories have said to me, main problem for Japanese leathers is that the raw hides are less suitable to become premium shoe leather, with coarser more loose grain (opposite to your experience), more veins and blemishes etc, and a bit thinner/softer perhaps (so agree there, don’t know which German leathers you talk about though, basically no tanneries left doing chrome tanned leathers suitable for shoe uppers since a decade back or so. IME Europe have all types of calf leathers, thick sturdy ones and soft thin, not really one way or the other in this regard).

Some Japanese tanneries therefore import hides which they tan themselves, as a sort of middle way. And I’ve seen a few new Japanese calf leathers from some tanneries that for example Miyagi Kogyo have started using, which have looked much better then it usually do.

Yes, the EU free trade agreement has removed import costs for European hides for Japanese makers, will probably mean we’ll see more of it (both hides to Japanese tanneries and finished leathers). That said, might not be so easy for Japanese brands to get in on the cake, there’s already a huge lack of good leathers available for brands in Europe, everyone struggles more and more each year with this. A factory I work with had to discard a whole shipment with leathers from one of the most famous tanneries in Europe last week as useless for making customer shoes, even to the lowest standard they make. Which is just my most recent example...

The shortage of good leathers is likely the main challenge this industry is facing worldwide, going forward. For us shoe lovers, the fact that car companies are starting to look away from leather and go towards “vegan” alternatives (ergo plastic, or sometimes plastic with 5% corn etc., but can still be sold as “sustainable” to the “conscious customer” who exchanges SUV every other year...) is a good thing for us though, only the luxury leather goods industry to compete with again 😊
 
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BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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IME and from what the Japanese factories have said to me, main problem for Japanese leathers is that the raw hides are less suitable to become premium shoe leather, with coarser more loose grain (opposite to your experience), more veins and blemishes etc, and a bit thinner/softer perhaps (so agree there, don’t know which German leathers you talk about though, basically no tanneries left doing chrome tanned leathers suitable for shoe uppers since a decade back or so. IME Europe have all types of calf leathers, thick sturdy ones and soft thin, not really one way or the other in this regard).

Some Japanese tanneries therefore import hides which they tan themselves, as a sort of middle way. And I’ve seen a few new Japanese calf leathers from some tanneries that for example Miyagi Kogyo have started using, which have looked much better then it usually do.

Yes, the EU free trade agreement has removed import costs for European hides for Japanese makers, will probably mean we’ll see more of it (both hides to Japanese tanneries and finished leathers). That said, might not be so easy for Japanese brands to get in on the cake, there’s already a huge lack of good leathers available for brands in Europe, everyone struggles more and more each year with this. A factory I work with had to discard a whole shipment with leathers from one of the most famous tanneries in Europe last week as useless for making customer shoes, even to the lowest standard they make. Which is just my most recent example...

The shortage of good leathers is likely the main challenge this industry is facing worldwide, going forward. For us shoe lovers, the fact that car companies are starting to look away from leather and go towards “vegan” alternatives (ergo plastic, or sometimes plastic with 5% corn etc., but can still be sold as “sustainable” to the “conscious customer” who exchanges SUV every other year...) is a good thing for us though, only the luxury leather goods industry to compete with again 😊
The German leathers I was referring to were indeed the older leathers from Freudenberg or new Weinheimer.
German leathers Heller & Perlinger I have seen and felt. Although the former may be more upholstery stuff? (cousin in that industry) while the latter produces a combination (Shrunken & Alpine come to mind). So, Perlinger are finishing with chrome, at least Alpine is chrome tanned. Both are rather stiff compared to Japanese or French leathers I've felt.

I'm sure the French leather could be finished stiffer, as evidenced by Meermin who uses French. But by and large, French leather tended to be softer compared to the German leathers. Not necessarily better just softer.

I have heard my cousin say that quality leathers are in short supply. In fact, he told me that 40% of the stuff he receives are not worth much, which speaks to what you mentioned about the shortage of quality leathers. Which he then went on to say, lower produced top quality means higher prices! Consequently wherever you are located, expect to pay more for the high stuff 😫.
 

Stefan88

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The Japanese leather I've seen (apart from Shell) has as Jesper says been pretty bad for the most part.
The exception was some Miyagi Kogyos I've seen and Yohei Fukuda RTW. Not sure if he uses Japanese leather now, but the first samples I saw was indeed that. Looked pretty good.
The Miyagi Kogyo Japanese leather I thought was OK was the more recent "burnished/museum effect" ones. The whole reason why I asked them to make with french leather was because I thought the creasing of the Japanese leather looked really bad. Couldn't be happier with that decision.
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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The Japanese leather I've seen (apart from Shell) has as Jesper says been pretty bad for the most part.
The exception was some Miyagi Kogyos I've seen and Yohei Fukuda RTW. Not sure if he uses Japanese leather now, but the first samples I saw was indeed that. Looked pretty good.
Is non-shell Japanese leather even exported? Japanese shell is the only Japanese leather I've seen available for purchase.

Japanese leather products (when I was there) was probably not on par with European leathers but it wasn't too bad. Saying that, would I want to use it for shoes? Probably not. Would make good bedroom slippers though 😁.

Actually in my travels to Argentina, I saw some quality leather as well. Again, not sure how appropriate it is for premium leather shoes though, but I hear good things about their Shell as well.
 

Stefan88

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Is non-shell Japanese leather even exported? Japanese shell is the only Japanese leather I've seen available for purchase.

Japanese leather products (when I was there) was probably not on par with European leathers but it wasn't too bad. Saying that, would I want to use it for shoes? Probably not. Would make good bedroom slippers though 😁.

Actually in my travels to Argentina, I saw some quality leather as well. Again, not sure how appropriate it is for premium leather shoes though, but I hear good things about their Shell as well.
Do you mean Japanese leathers? You know, it's difficult to say for sure. I've seen some pullup leathers and various horse hides that were most definitely good. Addict Clothes uses a japanese tannery for their horse hides, and these hides are the nicest I've ever seen on jackets.
Maybe not that great for formal shoes, but for casual they have loads.
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Do you mean Japanese leathers? You know, it's difficult to say for sure. I've seen some pullup leathers and various horse hides that were most definitely good. Addict Clothes uses a japanese tannery for their horse hides, and these hides are the nicest I've ever seen on jackets.
Maybe not that great for formal shoes, but for casual they have loads.
Yes Japanese leathers.

I was presented with Japanese Shell (as well as Argentine Shell), but there was not an option for smooth or grained calf. My thought was it probably wasn't up to the standard that the shoemaker incorporates into his makeups.

Although I was presented with Spanish leather. He seemed positive about it, same with Finnish hides. Would be nice to see more options so that we, purchasers of shoes, can get a feel for different leathers from different countries.

This development of leathers by different countries should bode well for maintaining prices at an approachable rate. Although, they may just increase regardless due to Supply & Demand.
 

j ingevaldsson

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The German leathers I was referring to were indeed the older leathers from Freudenberg or new Weinheimer.
German leathers Heller & Perlinger I have seen and felt. Although the former may be more upholstery stuff? (cousin in that industry) while the latter produces a combination (Shrunken & Alpine come to mind). So, Perlinger are finishing with chrome, at least Alpine is chrome tanned. Both are rather stiff compared to Japanese or French leathers I've felt.

I'm sure the French leather could be finished stiffer, as evidenced by Meermin who uses French. But by and large, French leather tended to be softer compared to the German leathers. Not necessarily better just softer.

I have heard my cousin say that quality leathers are in short supply. In fact, he told me that 40% of the stuff he receives are not worth much, which speaks to what you mentioned about the shortage of quality leathers. Which he then went on to say, lower produced top quality means higher prices! Consequently wherever you are located, expect to pay more for the high stuff 😫.
Hmm, if we talk original Freudenberg and their most common product, the box calf, I would not call it stiff and sturdy at all, if anything the opposite. Especially the ones towards the end (when declined had started) of their existence was very thin and supple (almost too thin, the pair I have in it creases quite heavily due to this. The older Freudenberg pair I have is awesome though, densest grain I've ever seen). Today's Polish Weinheimer leather is different to original Freudenberg in most regards, especially the older Freudenberg leather.
You're right that Heller Leder and Perlinger might be used for shoes to some extent, though very little in premium shoes AFAIK. Perlinger focus almost all on thicker leather for leather goods nowadays, to my knowledge, and focus on using larger thicker hides for that.

As I said, you can't really state French or Italian leathers as one kind, there's so many tanneries in those countries that make basically all types of leathers. Also the two big Frecnh ones for shoes have their main calf leathers as slightly different, Annonay slightly stiffer and thicker and Du Puy thinner and more supple, (while varies within their offerings as well). Italian have many tanneries making quite thin calf leathers, but also the opposite, and everything in between, sort of.

We will likely pay more for less, if nothing dramatically happens (like the car industry going all out, as mentioned). Oh joy... :)

The Japanese leather I've seen (apart from Shell) has as Jesper says been pretty bad for the most part.
The exception was some Miyagi Kogyos I've seen and Yohei Fukuda RTW. Not sure if he uses Japanese leather now, but the first samples I saw was indeed that. Looked pretty good.
The Miyagi Kogyo Japanese leather I thought was OK was the more recent "burnished/museum effect" ones. The whole reason why I asked them to make with french leather was because I thought the creasing of the Japanese leather looked really bad. Couldn't be happier with that decision.
The newer Japenese leather Kogyo use for some shoes creases quite nicely.
The Fukuda samples in Japanese leather you saw was from a different (cheaper) maker than he eventually went with for his RTW, now it's only European hides.

Is non-shell Japanese leather even exported? Japanese shell is the only Japanese leather I've seen available for purchase.

Japanese leather products (when I was there) was probably not on par with European leathers but it wasn't too bad. Saying that, would I want to use it for shoes? Probably not. Would make good bedroom slippers though 😁.

Actually in my travels to Argentina, I saw some quality leather as well. Again, not sure how appropriate it is for premium leather shoes though, but I hear good things about their Shell as well.
Not really, since they (before at least, talking Europe) had tarifs on them and was inferiour to what we have in Europe, not much export going on. And the amount of Japanese shell going out is very low, if you look at the grand scheme of things.

Argentinian leathers I've seen has been less good than Japanese, in general. It's not premium shoe material at all. There's one tannery making decent shell though, don't remember the name, but also some that are quite shitty.
 

j ingevaldsson

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Yes Japanese leathers.

I was presented with Japanese Shell (as well as Argentine Shell), but there was not an option for smooth or grained calf. My thought was it probably wasn't up to the standard that the shoemaker incorporates into his makeups.

Although I was presented with Spanish leather. He seemed positive about it, same with Finnish hides. Would be nice to see more options so that we, purchasers of shoes, can get a feel for different leathers from different countries.

This development of leathers by different countries should bode well for maintaining prices at an approachable rate. Although, they may just increase regardless due to Supply & Demand.
Some Spanish leathers are excellent, and cheaper than the French ones of the same standard. But sshhhh, don't spread the word, then it will change soon... ;)
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Hmm, if we talk original Freudenberg and their most common product, the box calf, I would not call it stiff and sturdy at all, if anything the opposite. Especially the ones towards the end (when declined had started) of their existence was very thin and supple (almost too thin, the pair I have in it creases quite heavily due to this. The older Freudenberg pair I have is awesome though, densest grain I've ever seen). Today's Polish Weinheimer leather is different to original Freudenberg in most regards, especially the older Freudenberg leather.
You're right that Heller Leder and Perlinger might be used for shoes to some extent, though very little in premium shoes AFAIK. Perlinger focus almost all on thicker leather for leather goods nowadays, to my knowledge, and focus on using larger thicker hides for that.

As I said, you can't really state French or Italian leathers as one kind, there's so many tanneries in those countries that make basically all types of leathers. Also the two big Frecnh ones for shoes have their main calf leathers as slightly different, Annonay slightly stiffer and thicker and Du Puy thinner and more supple, (while varies within their offerings as well). Italian have many tanneries making quite thin calf leathers, but also the opposite, and everything in between, sort of.

We will likely pay more for less, if nothing dramatically happens (like the car industry going all out, as mentioned). Oh joy... :)



The newer Japenese leather Kogyo use for some shoes creases quite nicely.
The Fukuda samples in Japanese leather you saw was from a different (cheaper) maker than he eventually went with for his RTW, now it's only European hides.



Not really, since they (before at least, talking Europe) had tarifs on them and was inferiour to what we have in Europe, not much export going on. And the amount of Japanese shell going out is very low, if you look at the grand scheme of things.

Argentinian leathers I've seen has been less good than Japanese, in general. It's not premium shoe material at all. There's one tannery making decent shell though, don't remember the name, but also some that are quite shitty.
Well the Weinheimer sample I saw recently was rather stiff. Not in a bad way as it was still very malleable. Sturdy would probably be the more appropriate adjective.

I guess those old Freudenberg boots must have been made of something else. Then again, it is not box calf so who knows.
Not sure if I own Fre. box calf. I definitely own Weinheimer box calf. As you alluded to, just because it is tanned in the same manner does not make it the same leather.

Some Spanish leathers are excellent, and cheaper than the French ones of the same standard. But sshhhh, don't spread the word, then it will change soon... ;)
Yes the options offered were just outstanding! We are talking supple, soft, but substantial. The Suede was beyond beautiful.

Secret is safe with me. Hopefully people bypass this commentary 😎.
 

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