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HomeFashionEast Meets East – Everlasting Model

East Meets East – Everlasting Model

Seiji McCarthy is somebody I’ve needed to cowl on PS ever since we frolicked in Tokyo some six years in the past. However with no prospect of travelling to Japan quickly, I turned to native author and pal Christopher Berry to go to Seiji and report – on Seiji’s American type and MTO course of specifically.

By Christopher Berry

I just lately had the pleasure of visiting Seiji McCarthy, considered one of Tokyo’s most attention-grabbing new bespoke shoemakers. I say new, however really he’s been in Japan for 5 years, assiduously honing his craft and constructing a model. He simply tends to maintain reasonably a low profile.

Seiji first lived right here in his twenties, each to grasp the language and to re-connect along with his roots (he’s half Japanese, on his mom’s facet). Again within the US, he pursued a profession with the NBA (that’s the Nationwide Basketball Affiliation), which took him throughout America and Asia. However then he returned a couple of years in the past to pursue shoemaking.

Someway, Seiji has managed to make a reputation for himself in a rustic famend for its grasp shoemakers. Some might need referred to as the transfer foolhardy, given the nation already appears to be bursting with names. However I believe that is to misconceive the native tradition. Whether or not it’s in footwear, fits or watches, each time a brand new participant enters the world, everybody pays due consideration – and infrequently the bar finally ends up being raised for everybody.

When Seiji began he shared a part of the higher flooring of World Footwear Gallery, within the Harajuku district of Tokyo. However at present he’s in a brand new atelier – a discreet ivy-clad constructing across the nook, a stone’s throw away from Bryceland’s – and albeit it’s a pleasure to see him thriving in his personal house.

After settling into the jazz café-themed workshop, Seiji explains to me his new made-to-order service. That is faster and cheaper, and presents a excessive degree of worth to those that need bespoke high quality, however have pretty common ft.

The becoming course of is inherently an additive one. First, shoppers are guided into their best-fitting trial shoe. Then, corrections to the pre-made kind are made as needed. For every altered location on the final, a further cost of ¥5,000 JPY (£30) is added.

This course of will also be accomplished remotely, however is barely really useful for those that can match into an ordinary sized final of a generally recognized model. For instance, one might inform Seiji they had been a 9.5 in, say, Alden and choose a mode and leather-based. The shoe would then be made in a single shot with zero fittings, in line with the client’s normal Brannock dimension.

For individuals who are travel-restricted, Seiji is comfortable to satisfy such orders, and does so to good buyer satisfaction. Nevertheless, he all the time advocates in-person fittings when potential.

Bespoke is inevitably the place issues get extra attention-grabbing.

Whereas Seiji’s footwear are as removed from a manufacturing facility product as potential, he locations a heavy emphasis on factory-like ranges of consistency: “I prefer to take as a lot guesswork out as potential. If I’ve a gauge that reveals me how your foot seems to be, I can think about it in 3D so a lot better. Most Japanese shoemakers don’t work like this.”

Whereas European shoemakers sometimes favour easy tape measurements and foot tracings, many in Japan and Asia use extra concerned becoming processes, replete with plastic footwear, stress sensors and even plaster moulds. These gadgets can present a 1:1 anatomical reference within the absence of the client’s foot, however in Seiji’s view don’t all the time assure higher outcomes.

In his expertise, topographical cross sections of the foot utilizing a gauge are all he must make an correct final, on prime of tracings and measures. Though as in lots of areas of craft, finally the correct resolution about which instruments to make use of is as much as the artisan, and which they discover delivers the very best outcomes to their clients.

It’s additionally helpful to notice that ‘well-fitting’ footwear are thought of otherwise right here in Japan than overseas.

For instance, folks take off their footwear with extra frequency, and nobody desires to garner even the slightest adverse consideration from friends or superiors by spending an excessive amount of time lacing or unlacing their footwear at skilled capabilities. Consequently, Japanese folks sometimes put on footwear a few half dimension too giant, and generally extra.

Right here, folks want to leap out and in of their footwear in a flash, in order that the gears of society might proceed to show uninterrupted.

Seiji and I agreed these societal and office norms are additionally the explanation why males in Asia have a tendency in direction of a extra elongated shoe. Convincing clients to interrupt with this visible bias has not all the time been simple. However, with a lot of the world turning into much less formal the tides appear to be lastly turning, and Seiji is having fun with the chance to domesticate and educate clients throughout this cultural shift.

There’s additionally a parallel with Seiji’s personal journey, from idolizing super-slim London footwear to the extra American-oriented types he prefers at present.

“After I began as a bespoke maker I needed to make the George Cleverly Churchill-style chiseled toe. However the type I’ve developed since residing here’s a lot much less chiseled and much more spherical,” he says.

“At the moment the preferred footwear we promote are nonetheless brogues and gown footwear, as a result of Japanese guys sometimes put on extra gown footwear. However whereas previously I’d promote a brogue with an excellent chiseled toe, now we do issues far more rounded. Now I’ll push folks into grain leathers or suede, or I’ll counsel folks strive cordovan, which immediately offers that cumbersome, waxy really feel.”

It’s attention-grabbing to listen to this, as cordovan is notoriously one of many tougher leathers to work with. With shell, particularly on the heel and toe areas, Seiji likens getting a clear pull over the past to “hog wrestling.”

And even suede skins are tougher, as a result of they need to be stored spotless all through the (bodily demanding) making course of. “The supplies I like to recommend essentially the most are those which might be the hardest to work with as a maker, however I don’t thoughts. I benefit from the problem. I like the appear and feel of these supplies for myself and for my clients,” he says.

Whereas many will affiliate cordovan with ready-made footwear, you could possibly argue its sought-after properties are literally higher suited to bespoke in some methods.

On a bespoke final the fabric adapts extra readily to the foot and provides in all the best locations from step one. Prepared-made cordovan in contrast could be tougher to interrupt in, and the ache lingers in our reminiscence (and generally ft) for years.

The writer personally wears a dimension EEE in Alden and may attest to this phenomenon. A whole lot of it additionally has to do with age. As we become old, our ft unfold out or can grow to be misshapen by years of ill-fitting footwear, inflicting additional harm.

Seiji’s vary contains each English and American types, however it’s the creation of an elevated, extra refined model of the latter that arguably units him other than different makers. This informal class actually appears to place the footwear right into a extra versatile class of bespoke, approachable by a greater diversity of consumers.

It’s a mode heritage he and I’ve in widespread, having each spend time at college in Philadelphia. “Extensive leg chinos and button-down shirts – should you’re from the East Coast, we get born in this stuff, ? Penny loafers, khakis, rugby shirts and jackets.”

Practicality can be on the centre of the enchantment, for him: “I’m most likely on the age now [46] the place I don’t wish to even journey the subway anymore. I imply I’ll, however there’s a concentrate on high quality of life stuff. I actually want strolling or commuting by bike.

“I like footwear, however I don’t wish to have my toenails break up. I need a pair that’s comfy and that I can maintain for 20 years. You don’t actually anticipate 20-year-olds to point out up in bespoke footwear. However I’m at an age now the place it makes extra sense.”

There’s little shock that his East Coast beginnings vastly inform the kind of garments Seiji pairs along with his footwear. With that in thoughts, it should additionally come as little shock to readers that his workshop is so near Bryceland’s, the menswear retailer run by Ethan Newton.

“Ethan actually influenced my type to the purpose that if I hadn’t met him, I believe I’d nonetheless be making British-style footwear. He acquired me into classic. I consider him nearly like a Rick Rubin. He helps artists in a manner that’s ridiculous,” says Seiji.

“The type I’ve developed since residing right here in Japan is rather a lot nearer to my heritage and much more primarily based on each day life. Ultimately you get again to who you’re.”

Seiji is planning worldwide trunk reveals sooner or later. Keep tuned to this house and Seiji’s Instagram for updates.

Costs in JPY as of September 8 2022:


  • Value: ¥200,000 (£1225, plus  ¥5,000 per final adjustment)
  • Lead Time: 3-4 months
  • Fittings: 1


  • Value:  ¥400,000 (£2450)
  • Lead Time: 1 12 months
  • Fittings: As needed


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