In Japan earlier this 12 months I began the method of commissioning a pair of bespoke loafers from Seiji McCarthy

Loafers are sometimes difficult to make bespoke, and bespoke as a complete I’ve discovered somewhat inconsistent, so why did I take this leap with Seiji? 

Largely it was as a result of he gives one thing totally different – a selected love of American footwear akin to that made standard by Alden, which he actually understands and likewise executes superbly. Considered one of my favorite ever designs is the full-strap idler from Alden on the Aberdeen final nevertheless it’s by no means been a great match for my toes. This was my alternative to get a greater model. 

(That is an instance of Seiji’s under, adopted by my Aldens.)

However there have been different causes too. Seiji has ready-made fashions of his shoe which you can see in particular person, not like some makers; he is an fascinating one to cowl due to that design angle and since he gives MTM and MTO alongside bespoke; and, a a lot underrated issue, we get alongside. 

Seiji is somewhat older, extremely educated {and professional}. He studied at Stanford and the LSE earlier than working for the NBA, leaving to review shoe design in Italy after which shoemaking. 

We’re extra comparable, by way of cultural background and schooling, then I’m to most craftsmen, and I’ve discovered that is each good and useful: at a superficial stage, the chat is best; at a deeper one, it is simpler to debate considerations with somebody you relate to. 

I didn’t realise till we met in New York this previous October that Seiji initially studied to be a shoe designer. He had thought his connections on the NBA would possibly assist as a marketplace for the sneakers. 

That did not actually work out. Seems a younger, financially flush sports activities star does not need to wait a number of months for a pair of gown sneakers made by a model nobody has heard of.

However Seiji discovered his area of interest with bespoke shoemaking in Japan, the place he lived in his twenties and returned to seven years in the past (he has a Japanese mom and American father). He was additionally helped (as many bespoke makers have been) by Ethan Newton – the mannequin of idler I commissioned is even referred to as the ‘Ethan’. 

Seiji has additionally simply moved to a much bigger workshop area (the pictures right here had been taken at his previous one) and has taken on two apprentices.

The preliminary measuring session (most footage proven) was fascinating, notably Seiji’s emphasis on tracing the profile of the foot (above). From a buyer standpoint although, essentially the most sensible factor was making an attempt on sizing sneakers (under). This actually makes it simpler to speak problems with match – nearly like having two fittings reasonably than one.

After we had the precise becoming in New York this previous October, the sneakers regarded good. As per my current Ugolini article, I used to be particular about what labored nicely for me throughout each classes: there wanted to be sufficient room for these toes to maneuver. 

Initially the sneakers felt somewhat tight on the entrance, however Seiji ripped out a part of the insole with the intention to decrease my foot, and that was higher. (Not that the ultimate sneakers will lack this insole – it was simply a great way to see what room was wanted.)

There was somewhat dialogue about how a lot peak to have over the massive toe vs the others, given they’re a lot decrease. To an extent you possibly can form the higher to present area to at least one and never the opposite, nevertheless it’s additionally one piece of leather-based and can transfer round. Ultimately we opted for somewhat extra room reasonably than much less. 

And after the preliminary becoming, Seiji lower the shoe aside at numerous factors (making it appear like a lady’s sandal) with the intention to see the place my foot was sitting inside. 

Not each shoemaker does this, however I did see the benefit right here, as Seiji identified that my heel was sitting off the internal fringe of the insole. He additionally confirmed me the place you possibly can see on my ready-made sneakers that my heel rubbed on this a part of the liner. 

Changes shall be made, and I ought to have my remaining sneakers early subsequent 12 months. 

On this expertise I would definitely suggest Seiji, notably given how onerous loafers might be to suit. However I will do a full piece subsequent 12 months. 

If anybody want to learn extra about him, we additionally commissioned a characteristic from a Japan-based author right here in 2022. And there’s a good piece right here on how Japanese shoemaking usually has modified in recent times. 

Seiji now travels to the US annually for trunk reveals – at the moment New York and San Francisco however with plans so as to add others sooner or later. 

Pricing and order varieties:

  • MTO/MTM begins from JPY 280k (consists of lasted shoe timber)
  • MTM is the MTO base worth plus an extra JPY 5k per adjusted space on the final
  • Bespoke begins from JPY 450k (additionally together with lasted shoe timber)
  • That is ordering in Japan. Trunk present costs are round 15% increased. 
  • Because of delays popping out of Covid, in addition to excessive demand, MTO/MTM supply is one 12 months and bespoke trial becoming is one 12 months with supply a 12 months after that
  • However new apprentices are hoped to deliver MTO/MTM supply down to 6 months and bespoke trial becoming to 6 months and supply six months after that


By Tina T

Hi I'm Tina, a website author with an unmatched passion for her craft. With an unwavering commitment to quality, she combines her love of design and writing to create captivating online experiences that leave users amazed.

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