Kobayashi Calf – Model 903881 CF

May 31, 2016

Most of the time. I don’t usually get a lot of opportunities to learn anything new from my customer base when it comes to my hobby of antiquing and burnishing high end bespoke shoes….as to be truly honest. Most don’t even have the slightest idea – what they want (they only think they know just bc, they’ve blog surf and seen a lot of pics)..they know even less of what’s possible beyond the standard mass marketing Berluti Italian and French clacage repertoire – all they seem to do is attach a photo of an approximation of what they fancy and that’s that.

However, from time to time I do get commissions from an informed class of very discerning customers….who not only know what they want…but they are even familiar with the process to such a artisanal degree, where they are even able to specify quite uncannily on the desired effect.

The customer in this case is an aristocrat – well that at least is what we all call him by…the aristocrat is a third generation western educated Japanese industrialist, who much prefers to wear fine bespoke shoes without anyone suspecting they’re new or a recent introduction to his extensive shoe collection…the spec is ten to fifteen years wabi-sabi patin – it’s not the first time I’ve taken up his contract. I’ve worked with him on numerous occasions and what I especially admire abt the aristocrat is his insistence on subtlety to such an extent where he even demands the right shoe should always have a slightly different character from the left – shoe is super light (all his shoes seem to be constructed like wise)…quite boring actually with very little hint that it’s even a high quality job. But don’t let mere looks fool you. As this is nothing short of the equivalent of the Grand Seiko of how high end shoes will be constructed in the not too distant future….of that I have no doubt. The Japanese are at least ten years ahead of the Italians and French when it comes to prescribing a solution to the hubris of provisioning style without the need to suffer. The sole is weightless carbon fiber manufactured by the same people who make fairings for bullet trains with a strip of stainless steel insert sandwiched insole via a discreet Norwegian welt to presumably provide springiness and mid support (custom lift, as the clients left feet is slightly bigger and wider at the vamp) to create a pleasing wafer thin Italian soled impression. Leather is single tanned baby calf leather all around with no inner leather lining to speak of for unparalleled comfort and airiness with just lined silk. Obviously a summer shoe. Shoe stable: Kobayashi.

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Customer knows exactly what he wants…or shall I say he knows, what he doesn’t want. Doesn’t want the run of mill jet black cap toe and graduated treatment that so many first time shoe appreciators prefer. Doesn’t want the full frontal in your face, ‘look! A shoe artist just massacred my Bruno Magli’s!) Instead the specs are for broken patinage with reverso treatment at toe cap and vamp to achieve an almost natural ancient wood like effect like French furniture polish.

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Broken or shattered patinage is an effect where the shoe is given multiple layers of very bold treatments of dyes where even the brush strokes are plainly visible…it’s very aggressive and one has to work very fast as the medium dries faster than usual – the result is random bold strokes and there is seldom any graduation from light to dark or vice versa…it’s the opposite of what I am accustomed too…controlled strokes with slow drying dyes. Instead the emphasis is solely based on how a leather shoe will actually season thru time with usage – it’s quite demanding artisan wise to create the shadow effect of broken patinage, as this requires eight instead of only the standard four treatments and the margin for error is close to zero. As the dye’s can’t be too overpowering otherwise they will blot out the detailing….I spend an awful lot of time trying to get the leather dyes to run consistently….and for the final wash, I even had to heat it to nearly boiling point to achieve the right consistency. However, when done right with loads of patience along with chain smoking (as it can’t be achieved in one go, due to the need to allow the dyes to seep in and dry adequately at each layer) the effect is really quite spell bindingly in a quiet and whisper sort of way. This is the opposite of loud! Silence here speaks volumes! (Spoiler: look carefully and you will be able to make out the horizon of sea line, curellean sunsets and clouds.)

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After bluing and a triple wash with burgundy and hint of dark brown dye. This is permanent…no polish or creams have been used at this stage.

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Final polish with burgundy cream now ready to be air flown back to Tokyo to one very proud shoe appreciator.

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