A little slice of Calm and serenity, literally in the middle of Tokyo's business district. There were hordes of turtles sunbaking on rocks, and koi so bold they'd all but eat from your hands.
Built in Enpoh rokunen (1678), Kyu Shibu-rikyu is one of the oldest remaining Daimyo gardens in Japan. Smaller by far than it's neighbour, Hama-rikyu, I think this is actually my favourite park in Japan - it is a place where business men hang out and eat their lunch, while old retirees practice their painting and sketching. It is as it should be - a park kept in the manner it was made, but enjoyed in entirely current ways.
Walking through Ginza I chanced upon an unusual truck belonging to the charismatic owner of Nelson's Bar, and thought I should check the place out. So the evening ended with whiskeys in ths dark rooftop in Ginza.
I hate cigarettes - despise them. But when I saw this packet, I couldn't help but blow ¥130 on them. Just like I couldn't help but buy this cheap Higonokami from Asakusa yesterday, even though I don't know how I'll get it back home again...
In Tokyo, I took the opportunity to visit the Rugged Museum - home and office of Free & Easy, always on my book shelf and in my Real McCoy's helmet bag.
After stocking up on some back issues of Free & Easy, the shop staff asked to take my picture for their August issue - The names they use are pretty funny, and it's been a running joke between a friend and I as to what we would be called if we get our photos in there. I guess I'll find out in a few months.
In the world of luxury shoes, Goodyear Welted constructions have followers as ardent and loyal as mechanical watches and canvassed suiting. Speaking of tradition, craftsmanship and integrity, the Goodyear welt construction sits atop the pile along with Norvorgese welted, viewed as the hardier make when compared to the lighter, more Italianate Blake or Sachetto. Decidedly English, the Goodyear welt is simply put a method of attaching sole and upper, independent of one another, through a strip of leather called the welt. All shoes, bar the moccasin, have a sole in a separate piece to the upper. The basic, cheap means of attaching the two is the cemented (glued) construction. To most shoe aficionados it is not an option, and in terms of quality it amounts to a disposable shoe, as the sole cannot be removed and replaced with any real integrity.
The Italians in general like a lightly formed shoe, and in this they have the Blake, Blake Rapid and Sachetto constructions. These styles have a light sole sewn directly to the upper. While these soles can be replaced, the Blake machines are less common, and the shoes themselves feel less "built" than Goodyear. It is identifiable by looking in the shoe- if the stitching is visible running through the insole, it is one of these methods.
Goodyear is made with a few extra steps in an effort to be more solid and water resistant. The upper of the shoe is stitched in flat piece like patterns, then stretched over and nailed to the last.
The last is the wooden form on which the shoe is shaped- a piece of wood is shaped into a style, like the 348, 341 and 337 in C&J, and the leather is stretched to match that shape. Longer "Lasting" is preferred as it makes a cleaner, longer lasting shoe, and the use of shoe trees- similar to the last but removable - will keep that shape looking handsome for longer.
The lasted upper then receives an insole, and the welt is attached. The welt is the small strip of leather running the circumference of the shoe. A wooden or metal shank is inserted to protect the sole collapsing between the ball and the heel (the arch), and the cavity is filled with cork. The cork will over time mould to the shape of the foot making for a superior fit.
The sole is then attached to the welt, meaning that the inner of the shoe is sealed from the ground, with the stitch on the outside. A heel is attached with cement and nails and the shoe is finished.
The advantages of this means of construction are that they are more resistant to water coming through the stitch in the sole, and the relatively simple means of removing and replacing the sole. Any cobbler worth his salt will keep a Goodyear stitch machine, although many die hard shoe fans think replacing the sole should only be done with the aid of the original last, and hence by the original manufacturer.
Goodyear welted shoes have been known to last 30 years and more, but like all things of quality they require more conscientious care. The oak bark tanned leather of a quality shoe is dense and hard when dry, but when moist- either through external means of rain and water or internally through the moisture we produce in our feet- they become soft and more prone to wear.
For this reason they should never be worn two days in a row, and if thoroughly wetted should be rested with shoe trees for up to two days. For those with heavy feet and long gaits, metal taps on the shoes and heels can stop premature wear, and rarely cost more than $10 to have applied. Another common mistake that murders good shoes is using too much shoe polish. Leather is natural, and breathes but too much polish clogs the pores and dries out the leather. Coupled with frequent creasing across the shoe, leather can crack and split.
A last final point on shoes- a properly formed shoe will have support built into the toe box and heel- crushing either is usually irreparable and ruins a nice shoe. Using a shoe horn will prevent crushing the latter, while the former would require some pretty heavy kicking, which should be reserved for cleats in any case!
So, a Goodyear welted shoe, like a beautiful watch, can gain character and patina over time. Well-treated it says great things about the wearer- discerning, respectful and appreciative of quality- all traits men would be well served attaining.
A brief, and highly opinionated run down of the various last shapes available in store as part of the Crockett & Jones Collection we carry;
The 337 - The original last of the handgrade collection, and in my opinion the most universal and elegant. It is a slightly extended, soft chisel toe, neither as long as the 348 nor as round as the 341. It is also the most three dimensional of the last shapes, with toe box having a slight raise at the point and a soft curve in to the chisel. The mouth and heel cap are narrow and well lasted, cradling the foot, and the narrow waist shows evidence of the longer lasting process. As it is in the Handgrade quality, the sole is channel cut, a process where the sole is split and lifted at the edges, the welting stitch sewn through, and then the sole refinished. The sole edge is elegantly rounded at the waist, accentuating the narrower shape, and the classic shoe making detail of bevelling the inside heel edge to stop it catching a trouser cuff finishes it off. It carries the same 16 nail pattern in the heel and dove tailed rubber that is seen throughout the C&J collection.
The models available in the 337 are all the Handgrade, and all the Handgrade we carry are 337 - The Punch Cap Oxford Belgrave in Black calf and Chestnut calf, the Wing Tip Brogue Clifford in Antique Tan and Black calf, and the Single Monk Savile in mink calf suede.
The 341 - Probably the most traditional and English of the available lasts, the 341 is a fairly symetrical almond shaped toe box - certainly appearing round on the foot. While not as round or as heavy as the traditional Church shape, the 341 could be described as a refined version of that classic last. The toe box is neither high nor low, giving it an even appearance. Great for men with larger feet compared to their height, the 341 de-emphasizes the length of the foot and fits cleanly over the arch. While being almost bucolic and old-school in the oxford, the last gains elegance in the penny loafer, with the U-tip stitching emphasizing the almond shape of the toe and the gentle sweep in to the penny strap. Available in store in the Cap Toe Brogue Westfield in Black calf, Brown calf and Tobacco Suede, and the Sydney Penny Loafer in Black calf and Brown calf.
The 348 - The most requested last shape since we have had the C&J range in store, particularly to new customers of Crockett & Jones shoes, the 348 is the most Italianate of lasts to my eye, the most flamboyant and striking. Extended in the toe box compared to the width of ball or height of arch, the 348's toe box is a shrp and angular version of the chisel, flatter to the actual toe on top. An ideal shape of shoe for those with small to average sized feet, the style lends length and interest to draw the eye to the foot. Available in store as the Lowndes double monk in black calf and brown claf, the Hallam cap toe oxford in the same two colours, the Edgware medallion toe in Black calf and the Tetbury chukka boot in dark brown suede with a Dainite rubber sole.
The 366 last - a new last for C&J, available in just the Poole loafer so far. Similar in shape to the 341 last with a light almond shape to the toe, the Poole loafer has an exposed, unfinished U-tip from the penny strap that makes for a slightly more casual feel than the Sydney. The 366 is still quite an elegant last despite it's casual application, with a raised and even toe box. The heel cap feels a little lower and straighter than others, and the mouth fairly clean, so I'd recommend breaking these in with a light pair of socks before going barefoot. Available in three variations - the poole in Navy reverse calf, brown reverse calf and dark brown antique nubuck.
The 238 - Our version of the classic australian side gor boot, or Chelsea boot for our English cousins, is the Chelsea on the 238 last. Taking cues from the 348 last, the 238 is like a subdued version of this last - clean and elegant, with a soft square toe box.
The 325 - Our country shoe - the Dainite soled, scotch grain Onslow - is the only shoe we have chosen in the 325 last. Traditionally used by C&J for their cordovan collection, the 325 is our version of a Budapester style shoe - sturdily built, stoic and traditional. The only true blucher in our collection - a style of shoe opposite to the oxford, where the two sides that hold the laces are seperate and unattached - the Onslow shares similarities with the 341 in it's almond shape, but heavier and more rugged. Available in the Onslow in Tan scotch grain.