The Shoe Snob Blog

August 8, 2017

Fugashin – Another write up for the Vietnamese Kings of Shoemaking

I have been honored with a 2nd pair of shoes from Fugashin Saigon, a factory based out of Vietnam who makes some very impressive shoes. For those of you that missed the first review, please see it HERE.

The first pair of shoes I got were unfortunately way too small. I ordered a UK6.5, my normal size in most British benchgrade shoes but they felt more like a G&G or EG UK6.5 which my feet simply can’t squeeze into. So this time I ordered a UK7, thinking that the same last was being used (as they look similar). Unfortunately, like a fool, I didn’t ask if the last was going to be the same and now I have received a shoe that is too big 🙁 The last on this model is more fitting to a typical benchgrade fit. So once again I cannot comment on comfort/durability/leather over time etc . But I can at least discuss the shoe itself and all its features.

This model always intrigued me as it was a very tastefully done cross between heavy and light shoemaking. It is not often that you see a Norwegian stitch done so finely and make to look ‘dressy’. You usually find this construction on heavy soled boots that look ready to go through the snow of Russia. But here you find it on a sleek derby very reminiscent to the designs of French masters, Corthay. And giving it that construction creates a nice balance between overly sleek and robust, presenting a shoe that is good for dress attire but could also be worn a bit more ruggedly (i.e. with denim or heavy corduroy).

As you can see by the pictures, the shoes themselves are of top grade making, adding every little bell and whistle that you typically find in a handgrade shoe but at the price of a benchgrade shoe. There is literally nothing to fault here (except the blue twists at the end of the laces which I don’t find matches the caliber of the shoe at all). Their presentation in box/lack of bags/etc is still not up to scratch but I guess they are not so fussed to step that up even though they should be. No shoes of this caliber should come without dust bags. That’s a complete no-no. And I still think that the lining leather used could be of higher grade. But as a shoe at a price that would easily be charged at around £1000 (or more) if it was made in England/France/Italy, then I guess you can go get the dust bags yourself for the discount one gets.

I have written before about the fact that it does not matter where a shoe is made, so long as the materials and workers are good and dedicated to making a top quality shoe. We are no longer in the era where good shoes only comes from Europe and everywhere else is 2nd or 3rd rate. Good shoes can come from anywhere in the world and Fugashin proves just that (as did Saint Crispins by making some of the best shoes in the world, coming out of Romania, a place I am sure many scoff at).  And what’s even funny is that Fugashin have been doing this for years and have simply only now thought to make a name for their factory by making their own house label.

What’s even funnier is that some famous brands in Japan (and possibly elsewhere) use the Vietnamese factory to make their shoes up to the welt stage but then are apparently finished in Japan (as is the case with British and Italian factories using India/China etc). I cannot name names but this just goes to show you that it is hard to trust anyone in this industry as people are so worried about perception they are willing to hide the truth about the actual origins of their shoes to sound better. This won’t always be like this though as I predict in 10 years time, it will no longer matter where the shoes are made, so long as the quality is there.

Therefore, the moral of the story that I have been preaching for awhile now is don’t sleep on makers that don’t come from the countries that we historically thought were the only good ones. Expand your horizons to countries less known for shoemaking but that can make a good shoe nonetheless!!

  • Alex

    Looks like an extremely well made shoe!! What are your generally thoughts on pegged waists though?

    • TheShoeSnob

      not too crazy about them but not too critical either. But I prefer a clean look if possible

  • patrickovitch

    Did you order from their website ?
    I don’t see those shoes.
    Is it a special order?

  • JohnR

    These do look lovely. I will be in Ho Chi Minh city in a few months and have already scheduled a visit with Fugashin. I’m really looking forward to it, to say the least.

    • TheShoeSnob

      nice one! Enjoy Vietnam! Have some Pho for me 😉

  • D.T.

    Hi Justin,

    I partially agree with you on the fact the location of production doesn’t matter.
    I completly agree on the fact, the quality can be exactly the same or even better outside UK, France or Italy. At this point, anyone can learn and train to reach the best (I can quote 100 hands for shirts as an example, made in India and even finest than italian).
    But :
    1 – if the brand says they are made in UK, I don’t want them to be done anywhere else and finished in UK, I don’t like to be fooled,
    2 – the price of a craftman in UK isn’t the same than one in Spain and obviously one in Vietnam, if I’m ready to pay the price to sustain european economy, I would maybe like to know if it’s not the case and do my choice in complete knoledge,
    3 – for those reasons, I’m not ready to pay the same price a shoe made in Vietnam than one made in UK, even if the quality is the same, because it means the benefit is exagerated,
    4 – you quote St-Crispin as an example, made in Romania, it’s trully a great brand selling the most exquisite RTW shoes, but in my opinion too expansive for something made in Romania. Around 1100€ if I recall.
    Vass should in my opinion be a better example of a high end RTW shoe, 100% leather if it’s still the case, made in eastern Europe, at the right price. Around 600€.
    Or furthermore Carmina, you talked about many times. 400€ for a realy great product.
    5 – the last point is that we can only talk about the perceived quality, because we can’t see the construction of the shoe (100% leather or not? What has been made by hand?). That point lets a big space for the brands to fool their clients.
    The ultimate review would consist in cutting the shoe by a trained cobbler to see what’s inside like some japanese purists do.
    6 – I was talking on a general way, I realy like the shoe you presented here, except a slight imbalance between the last and the norvegian construction and the price is matching the product AND his location of production.
    Sorry it was long, but this question needs development.
    Always a pleasure to read you and I realy enjoy your button boots!