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!!