One of the Japanese RTW brands that are famous also outside their home country is Miyagi Kogyo. The first retailer in Europe is the Norwegian store Skomaker Dagestad, I have tested one of their models from Kogyo, which is dissected in this review.
Brand: Miyagi Kogyo
Model: 106 Semi Brogue Derby
Colour: Old Snuff
Size: UK11 (standard width)
Sole: Single leather sole
Price: about €560 / 5 450 NOK (the shoes are a review pair from Skomaker Dagestad)
Miyagi Kogyo is one of Japan’s oldest still active shoe factories, founded in 1941 at the request of the military. In peacetime after World War II, the company has made various types of shoes, mainly Private Label production for various luxury brands. For the Tokyo-based store World Footwear Gallery, they began to make shoes under the company’s own name, and from there they have received fine reputation. Their classic, clean and sophisticated shoes have attracted the attention of shoe enthusiasts around the world after images of them have been distributed in various social media and forums.
Kogyo has been part of Jsep, Japan Shoes Export Platform, which is working to establish Japanese shoe brands in Europe now that we have a free trade agreement between EU and Japan. The Norwegian shoe store Skomaker Dagestad, who had been eyeing Kogyo since before, met the brand at a fair they conducted in Paris, and decided to invest in the brand. Since earlier Norway has no duty on shoes from Japan. Dagestad today has about ten different models from the brand.
For Europeans and also Americans the easiest way to get hold of Miyagi Kogyo’s shoes is clearly via Skomaker Dagestad. Their models are also slightly higher graded with European leather from Annonay and Charles F. Stead (Kogyo use Japanese leather in their own ranges). If you buy from Dagestad you can deduct the Norwegian VAT, but may also pay VAT and potential customs in your home country.
Otherwise it’s in Japan that the brand is most easily accessible, among other things through the mentioned World Footwear Gallery which has several stores in Tokyo, one in the middle of the central district Ginza.
General info about the shoes
The model is an interpretation of a classic semi brogue derby, made on a classic classic round toe last in a mid-brown suede called Old Snuff. Contrasting sole stitching gives a bit extra character. The shoes have a single leather soles with closed channel and a slightly bevelled waist. They are delivered in a burgundy shoe box with two shoe bags.
Construction and materials
As is often the case when Japanese do things, the shoes are very well-built, neat and thorough work. The remarks that are to be found are very small, such as that the sole stitching don’t become completely straight when they have taken out the part where the leather overlaps at the brogued cap, which really only becomes visible since the sole seam is contrasting, and that the sole edge swayes slightly at one area. But, as I said, small notes, the building quality is on a high level. Perhaps not the most complicated making, but well-executed.
Miyagi Kogyo uses a type of “fudge wheel” that decorates the top of the welt that gives small, symmetrical marks, looks a bit different to the coarser fudging commonly used in Europe. This in combination with a completely smooth edge gives a pretty clean and neat impression. A nice detail is that the tongue is completely perforated in the brogueing at the top.
The heel height of the shoes is relatively low, lower than what is usually standard on most welted shoes. On this more casual shoe, however, it works nicely aesthetically, I think.
The suede is from British tannery Charles F. Stead and it’s their fine full reverse calf suede called Janus Calf. Not much to say about this, clearly good level of it, with dense fine fibers. The shoes have been used now about ten times and even if one cannot say so too much about how they will wear, the leather soles seem to be quite capable. The heel stiffener is in real leather, which is nice.
I have UK11 in these, which is the size I now usually have in RTW, varies between 10.5 and 11. Although it is Japanese lasts, which can sometimes have a slightly different shape to European, I would say that the fit is quite standard, both in width, shape of the heel and instep which is normal. The size is also fairly standard, if anything a bit small in size.
They are considered relatively soft from the start, the sole is thin and flexible. These are shoes break in quickly. The fact that they are in suede might be part of it, it’s a material that doesn’t have to be softened in the same way as smooth leather usually have to, but much of the explanation is in other material choices.