The Centipede Has Landed + A Question About Japanese Bespoke Shoes

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by pejsek, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. pejsek

    pejsek Senior member

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    While glancing through the high end shoe thread this morning I was pleasantly surprised to see that the mysterious Japanese centipede (who most assuredly does dream of shoes) has apparently paid us the favor of a visit. If you haven't yet seen the site, please go take a look at:

    centipede.web.fc2.com/

    There's no way you'll be sorry. I was initially quite beguiled by the amazing collection of old bespoke shoes (mostly English), since this is one of my own pursuits (albeit on a far more humble scale). The American section is quite an eye-opener as well, especially to all those who are perhaps inclined to walk by all those Aldens and A-Es with nary a glance. There's also an intriguing selection of Ugolinis and quite a cabinet of curiousities from the German-speaking peoples.
    What caught my eye most on this visit was the section devoted to Japanese bespoke shoes. immsmc, the work of Koji Suzuki may be more extensively documented on Jun Kuwana's site, but then, really, isn't any Suzuki good Suzuki? The drama of the Suzuki shoes is in fact so great that it perhaps caused me to unfairly overlook some of the other Japanese shoemakers on previous visits. Some of the shoes immediately following the Suzuki ones are quite striking and elegantly executed but I can't figure out the maker. I have only the barest familiarity with Japanese (my children go to a Japanese elementary school), but I know enough to realize that I am never going to pick my way through that melange of katakana, hiragana, and kanji. We have loads of Japanese talent on this site, of course, and I'm hoping that someone will tell me more about the maker of these shoes. It would also be interesting to know if anyone here has actually ever engaged the services of a Japanese cobbler.
    I mentioned on the Kiton shoes thread that I'd really love to see a Silvano Lattanzi/Koji Suzuki duel--freestyle full brogues at twenty paces or s.thing like that (just as long as, dear god, nobody gets hurt). Lattanzi and Suzuki both seem to be working at the peak of their abilities, their work far outshining the output of ordinary run-of-the-mill elite cobblers' workshops and showing the pure spark of individual genius. The various anglophilic interpretations of classic Edwardian design may be the most interesting thing happening in shoes today. It would be interesting to know more about the top Japanese bespoke shoemakers. Where did they learn the craft? Who and what were their inspirations? Sometimes, it seems, it really is all in the translation.
     
  2. tattersall

    tattersall Senior member

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  3. edmorel

    edmorel Quality Seller!! Dubiously Honored

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    I'll dodge your question(s) for now, but what say you of these beauties:
    http://centipede.web.fc2.com/gandg1.html


    Would you even wear those??? I'd probably just put them up in a mantle or something for all to admire.
     
  4. pejsek

    pejsek Senior member

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    I would say, tattersall, that those are indeed beauties, a material rebuke to all the black shoe haters. In general terms (i.e. minus the squarish toe) they are actually quite reminiscent of an old pair of Henry Maxwell brogues that I have long considered an ideal rendition of the form.
    It also seems the Japanese are quite enamored of the inset metal toe tap.
     
  5. Roger

    Roger Senior member

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    I'll dodge your question(s) for now, but what say you of these beauties:
    http://centipede.web.fc2.com/gandg1.html

    I wouldn't refuse those shoes if they were offered to me. However, I do have one very tiny nit to pick: the maker seems to have buggered the screwheads in the toe taps. Furthermore, Phillips- or Robertson-head screws are just wrong, in my opinion, for an absolutely top-of-the-heap product. They make the whole job look very utilitarian, rather than exquisite, as it should. The maker should have used very elegantly-formed slot-head screws, with narrow slots, and the screws timed so that the slots ran perfectly longitudinally, i.e., parallel to the long axis of the shoe. Furthermore, these should be flat-head screws with the underside beveled to fit countered-bored holes in the taps precisely, with no space around the heads, and the heads should be ground perfectly flush with the toe tap on completion. (Actually, I'm borrowing these notions from what is considered the proper kind of screws and their installation on custom gunstocks, but the principle seems to me to be the same. JLibourel, if he is around, will know exactly what I'm getting at here.) [​IMG]
     
  6. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    Look at that waist:

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Bic Pentameter

    Bic Pentameter Senior member

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    Some of the shoes immediately following the Suzuki ones are quite striking and elegantly executed but I can't figure out the maker. I have only the barest familiarity with Japanese (my children go to a Japanese elementary school), but I know enough to realize that I am never going to pick my way through that melange of katakana, hiragana, and kanji. We have loads of Japanese talent on this site, of course, and I'm hoping that someone will tell me more about the maker of these shoes. It would also be interesting to know if anyone here has actually ever engaged the services of a Japanese cobbler.


    The shoes after those made by Mr. Suzuki were made by Yamacho and by Ryota Hayafuji. Sanyo Yamacho sells a ready to wear line, but does not seem to have a web presence. A Japanese homepage I found states that Mr. Hayafuji trained at George Cleverly and Crockett and Jones.

    Bic
     
  8. VMan

    VMan Senior member

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    [​IMG]
     
  9. pejsek

    pejsek Senior member

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    Thanks, Bic. That's very helpful. Interesting to know that Hayafuji trained in England with Cleverly and C&J. Using the names Ryota Hayafuji and Sanyo Yamacho I spent the last hour or so (hey, I am on vacation) trying to tease out the names of some more interesting Japanese bespoke shoemakers. Here are some of the things I found:

    1. Hiro Yanagimachi. Makes some very beautiful shoes under the intriguing name "works on the knees." Check out the red loafers (I believe they're in the second link):

    http://219.163.188.230/monoonline/sc...444-001-02.asp
    http://www.wfg-net.com/order.html

    2. Koji Takano. Affiliated with the relatively well-known Guild of Crafts. The brown monk is very cool.

    http:http://www.lifegear-tradingpost.com/...01/index02.htm

    3. Yukiko Bassett Okawa. Apparently part of the infamous Miyuki Hundred Club gang. The curve on the apron is inspired.

    http://www.boq.jp/closeup/shoes/2006...060428_sho.htm

    4. Ryota Hayafuji. Already on centipede's site, but take a look here and don't miss the Koji Suzuki shoes immediately following; also, be sure to dig those trees that might be worth a long wait all on their own and those amazing old school Phillips heels (though I shudder to think what Roger might have to say about them):

    http://www.britishoes.com/Japanese/S...xhibihays.html

    5. More Koji Suzuki miscellany (because I can't really help it):

    http://www.shoe-riya.com/spigola.html
    http://konylog.com/archives/kojisuzuki.JPG

    And for the Japanese speakers, click here for an interview and profile (you will need to click on 'shoes' and then on the next page click on 'Antica Bottega Della Spigola'):

    http://www.bespoke-tailor-dmg.com
     
  10. pejsek

    pejsek Senior member

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    I forgot to add that on the last Koji Suzuki link once you get to the Spigola page you can click on 'lineup' and get another eight or so pictures of shoes. The black double monk in figure 1 is a good example of Suzuki's creative genius. The straps are pulled back almost to the point that they might begin to seem ungainly and fail to close the shoe properly. The tension is vivid, but then it's resolved perfectly. It's the same sort of playfulness with form and expectation that you encounter on some Lattanzi shoes.
     
  11. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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  12. centipede

    centipede Well-Known Member

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  13. whnay.

    whnay. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Anyone know how I could get my hands on Vol. 4?
     
  14. zjpj83

    zjpj83 Senior member

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    Glad to see GAZIANO is up and running
     
  15. tattersall

    tattersall Senior member

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    Glad to see GAZIANO is up and running

    That was my thought exactly.

    I really like the Suzuki photos - you are very fortunate, Mr Centipede, to live in a country with so many talented artisans. I understand that there is a considerable waiting list to simply order shoes from Suzuki.

    Roger - wow you are a stickler, aren't you? I hadn't even noticed the toe-plates except to remind myself that I don't need them (or gunstocks [​IMG]).
     

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