A Guide to Classic Menswear Shopping in Japan

Because of my passion for clothing, every one of my vacations tends to turn into a menswear trip at some point or another. This is most likely due to the fact that there are only a few classic menswear spots in Los Angeles, leading me to feel a bit starved with a healthy dose of FOMO from many of my friends and colleagues.Β  It’s always a fun game, tip toeing between family time, seeing cultural sites, and getting to go to some of the amazing stores you’ve only seen pictures of. After practicing during previous trips to London and Paris (and smaller stuff like NYC or SF), I was prepared to tackle my 10 day trip to Japan. And boy, it became one of the best experiences of my life.

Paraboots at Komehyo
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Chausser shoes at Pitti

I can’t say I know how you go about staking your claim on real estate at Pitti Uomo, but I would think that “smack dab in front of the Cucinelli space” seems like a good spot to be, trafficwise. Nonetheless, Yoichi Maeda, the guy behind Chausser shoes, seemed a little bored as buyers and other visitors considered his boots, shoes, and sneakers before completing their Pitti pilgrimage to Brunello’s kingdom. Those who didn’t give Chausser a second look were missing out on another brand that balances an artisanal focus with an aesthetic one.

Chausser’s Yoichi Maeda in the neon jungle of Pitti.

Founded in 2001, Chausser attracted attention a few years back when its Japan-designed-and-made shoes, many in unusual, domestically sourced shell cordovan, found stockists in the United States. Chausser’s lasts are a little more exaggerated than your average maker–narrow at the waist of the shoe, with slightly bulbed, upturned toes. Not that they’re at all extreme, particularly when worn, but they stood out in Pitti’s tailored pavilion where traditional English makers held court. Some are soled in leather, and some finished with a Vibram sole guard.

Yoichi seemed particularly proud of Chausser’s natural-toned cordovan shoes, which age with wear to a patinated tan. For fans of the concept of wabi-sabi in clothing, these models give the option of pleasant age-ability with distinctive design–sort of N.D.C. via Tokyo. The workboot styled models were most appealing to me, although Chausser also offers loafers and oxfords. On the other hand of the material spectrum is a range of sneakers in canvas and soft suede made up in on-trend shapes (the sneakers are not necessarily made in Japan). Chausser makes pretty women’s shoes as well, although the focus at Pitti was obviously on their men’s lines.

The evolution of a Chausser natural cordovan shoe–new on the left, worn on the right.

Chausser boots in textured leather.

Chausser sneakers.