Denimio ‘Down Under’ by Samurai Jeans

It’s been a long time, fellow denimheads!

Welcome back to my little blog. Since my last post, the world has changed and life as we know it has indeed become rather different. I’ve had to put our hobbies aside to concentrate on a few other aspects of life demanding my attention, and sadly, before going into hiatus, I was only a couple of steps away from potentially doing some collaboration jeans.

One such conversation was had with the good folks at Denimio back in early 2019, and when COVID-19 interrupted the project, the idea was put forth to have a pair of special edition Australian jeans made by Samurai Jeans! I was surprised in that, earlier this year, Denimio told me that this project had gone ahead and is close to completion!

So it is with much excitement today that I present to you the ‘Denimio Down Under’ special model by Samurai Jeans! Let me review these jeans which I partly designed…


This special edition Samurai Jeans is by no means a blog collaboration, but more a Denimio x Samurai Jeans project that is a special tribute to denim hobbyists in Australia. My part in this project was to assist in the conceptualisation of how we could make these jeans ‘Australian’ – when, in terms of culture and manufacture, denim jeans don’t have a whole lot to do with Australia.

Early on in the discussion, I felt that the natural colours of Australia should play a role in the design of these jeans. Two factors influenced my thought here. First, being a very new nation that hasn’t even yet completely shed its shell as a British convict colony (the English Queen is still our monarch), and being so sparsely populated with limited cultural exports, there weren’t too many unique Australian cultural elements that could be introduced into these jeans without becoming a caricature or cliche. What we do have, however, is an abundance of natural heritage that is so different to other parts of our world.

Therefore I felt like Australia could be best represented by incorporating the colours of our natural landscapes into these jeans in fundamental ways – as in, not just thread colours mind you, but the actual fabrics! Three major colours we contemplated: the rusty red of Australian soil, rich with iron oxide; the golden yellow of our world famous beaches; the blue tinged green of our eucalyptus trees. We were able to incorporate the first two colours – unfortunately, eucalyptus green proved impossible to find in Japan.

Yet, the folks at Samurai Jeans surprised us all by taking the denim to the next level of Australian representation! We’ll reveal its secrets soon.


The cut used for this special edition is the s520xx. This is Samurai’s new relax tapered fit.

In actual fact, the s520xx was first proposed for this project before it entered Samurai’s regular line-up. I had requested a modification to Samurai’s s634xx fit – by adding a street-style taper – which was an exclusive fit featured on their Musashi Miyamoto special edition from years ago. Back in 2019, as we brainstormed the project, the idea was to create a modern fit which will easily accommodate both streetwear and modern work-style, during the time when high tapered fits were making waves.

As you can see, this fit features a medium to high rise, a relaxed top block, with a moderately strong taper from the knees. The length whilst raw is enough for me to do a wide double-cuff at 185 cm – plenty of fabric to do as you like – hemmed, cuffed or stacked.

For me, this cut is much more anatomically flattering compared with Samurai’s other fits. It suits a larger, modern physique without the wide silhouette of vintage cuts.


As I briefly mentioned earlier, the denim on this pair of jeans has been specially enhanced by Samurai Jeans. What you’re looking at here is an unique red-weft denim developed just for this project, which is woven from a mix of cotton that is primarily Australian!

How cool is that?

In fact, as opposed to many Samurai fabrics which are heavily Texas cotton focused, the American content here sits only at 10%. Samurai had totally surprised both Denimio & myself with this unique denim, as we initially planned to reuse the Book of Fire denim instead of a custom-developed fabric.

This 17oz denim features a mix of natural & synthetic indigo on the warp, and vegetable dyed rust-red on the weft. The weft is not a pure red, but rusty, with tones of orange & brown. The effect is a slightly purple hued denim on a rust background.

The shorter staple Aussie cotton is not a bad substitute for American denim. The texture on the warp is mildly rough with variegated bumps from the slubbing – executed with loom-chatter quality, rather than being overly exaggerated or artificial.

This is hobbyist grade denim.


A custom leather patch with red print features. You’ll see a Koala, the Sydney Opera House, and also the Denimio beetle and a little shrimp if you look closely.

Solid metal Samurai Jeans buttons & rivets feature throughout.

The 5-button fly features Samurai’s sunrise buttons.

Flattened Lee-style rivets are used here (these are my favourite from Samurai); they are the least likely to scratch your furniture or cut your clothes.

No-metal-spared extras include hidden & crotch rivets.

Silver lamé thread runs through the rust-red selvedge, featuring on the outseams, coin pocket and fly.

The sewing is done with a mix of pure cotton & poly-core threads, with the latter used for high stress areas.

The stitch-colour scheme has been customised for this project. Major feature colours are the red along the inseam and the green on the coin pocket.

On the selvedged coin pocket, you can see a special green version of the Denimio tag.

Whilst the back pocket features a black Samurai tag with an inverted ‘A’!

A special mention for people new to Samurai Jeans is their raised arcs, which will produce pronounced arc fades on the back pockets over time – you can see many examples of this fading on the forums.

The shirting grade pocket cloth is worth special mention – the colour chosen for its resemblance to the golden sands of Australian coasts – and is the same fabric as that on Samurai’s SSA21-HJ aloha shirt from 2020. This cotton satin fabric features a discharge print depicting the Honnō-ji Incident, and is also used for the lining of the top block.


Multiple vintage sewing machines are used to construct this pair of jeans – you can see the various stitch types and thread thicknesses here.

The single and double needle work is neat, while the chain-stitch is nice & rugged.

The structural stitching is done in the traditional lemon and tea colours, with a total of 6 different colours of threads being used.

The button holes are very densely sewn, as are the raised belt loop attachments.

The overall quality of construct is very high – everything from the placement of rivets to the attachment of the leather patch is extremely neat and precise.


It’s been two years in the making, this Denimio ‘Down Under’ project jeans by Samurai Jeans, the s520xx17ozDMID. I must admit too, it is difficult to review these jeans objectively, due to my own part in the design, which has incorporated my own preferences regarding specifications and somewhat idiosyncratic ideas about what might represent Australia.

The concept of Australian identity and representation has always been a tricky one, in part due to ongoing conflict and trauma from our colonial past – thus, my choice to exclude ‘cultural’ elements from the concepts of this collaboration was a deliberate one. I am, myself, no expert on Australian aboriginal or Anglo-Saxon cultures – not to mention that the minutiae of these cultures are not widely known by people outside of Australia anyway, and their inclusion on a pair of Japanese jeans for international consumption would largely be lost in translation.

What is well known, and more meaningfully incorporated into a pair of pants, however, are the colours of Australia’s unique natural scenes. The rust red of Uluru and our iron oxide infused earth, the golden sheen of our sandy beaches, the unique green of our eucalyptus dominated bushlands…… the natural world is old and somewhat alien here in Australia, and I’m always impressed by how different it feels compared to all other parts of the world when I return home from an overseas trip.

Samurai Jeans has done one better here, by actually incorporating Australian cotton and a special rust-red vegetable dyed weft in a custom denim developed just for this project of 200 pairs of jeans – this was really impressive to me, and stands out as one of the main attractions of these jeans. The combination of a mixed natural & synthetic indigo mix in the warp and the rusty vegetable dye in the weft promises some unique and never before seen fades in the future. The 17 oz denim weight, although on the lighter end by Samurai’s own standards, is much more versatile in an ever-warming world compared with their stock 19 oz and 21 oz offerings – at 17 oz, there remains plenty of thickness and handfeel, and is noticeably more solid than the workwear standard of 14 oz.

The new cut, now named the s520xx, was supposed to debut as a custom fit for this project. Though, as this project was held up by COVID-19, this fit has entered into Samurai Jeans’ regular line-up first. Like I mentioned before, the s520xx was the materialisation of my request for a tapered version of Samurai’s s634xx limited edition jeans – which, admittedly, does look very much like most of the “natural tapered” fits that other brands have been doing for the past couple of years. This is great news actually, as a modern tapered fit for the international market was something that was missing from Samurai’s catalogue for some time.

The more relaxed top block gives more room for fuller physiques and people from larger built ethnicities, and Samurai’s penchant for longer inseams allows cuffing and stacking for taller bodies too. The sharp taper (relative to vintage cut jeans anyway) gives a modern silhouette, imparts much greater versatility to these jeans – these would work very well on the streets of Australia or the USA – and you don’t necessarily need to combine them with a duck chore coat and leather work boots for these jeans to look good. The sharper, more anatomically streamlined fit works well with almost everything – streetwear, casual wear and modern work-wear.

The hardware and peripheral specifications are an eclectic mix of choices within Samurai’s extensive library – aiming for a streamlined aesthetic which would not be OTT for everyday wear. The combination of Levi’s style buttons and Lee style rivets may seem odd to workwear purists, but keep in mind these jeans were designed as a melting pot of influences and ideas, and is meant to look equally synergistic with both casual modern clothing and vintage-style hobby clothing.

The denim too, strikes a balanced note of texture without distraction, the weft colour deliberately earthy instead of bright, and the indigo a mix of natural & synthetic for an organic hue. I imagined these jeans being natural and wearable, whilst being fully kitted out – I think Samurai has hit the mark here.

Photo via Uluru Tours

I’ve previously written about my mild skepticism about the countless collaboration jeans from Japanese brands that have been flooding the market for some years now, though it’s also important to consider the individual modus operandi of the Japanese denim brands. I’m not a huge fan of brands doing simple rearrangements of their standard specifications and calling it a “special edition”. Yet, this “Down Under” project is not just that! Consider the custom denim and custom cut developed for this project specifically – this is a true special edition in material, and not just marketing. If you had ever wanted to try Australian cotton in your jeans, or are looking for a well-done red weft denim, then look no further. This is also one of the very few special edition Samurai products that are not heavily focused on Japanese history or local culture, making it much more meaningful and approachable for non-Japanese hobbyists.

The Denimio ‘Down Under’ jeans by Samurai Jeans will be launched this Friday, 20th of August, at 35000 JPY. This is slightly higher than Samurai’s basic offerings, and yet there is nothing basic about these jeans. Check out this limited run of 200 pairs over at Denimio and get yourself a slice of Aussie cotton and colours.

Warpweft Company – EX-202 jeans review

Type: review

Status: sponsored

Maker: Warpweft Company

Item: Jeans, denim

Price: $160 USD


Apologies for the hiatus – work’s been busy, and all that.

Though, I will have a couple of denim reviews for you this month, to round the year off. First up is a new fit and denim from Warpweft Company – an Indonesian brand which I had previously reviewed last year.

At that time, I reviewed their mid-weight EX-101 jeans, part of their top end Exquisite series, concluding that “…if you could see these EX-101 jeans in person, then most intermediate and advanced hobbyists would be able to discern that WARPWEFTCo’s EX-101 is superior in material & construct compared with most American, European and lower-tier Japanese jeans. Provided that people can overcome their initial prejudices against South East Asian products, then WARPWEFTCo would be a strong contender in the sub-$200 jeans market.

Today, we’ll check out their EX-202 – a different denim, a different cut, and perhaps signs of what’s to come for this brand.



At this time WWCo’s EX series jeans is offered in three different cuts – slim straight, tapered and high tapered. This pair I’m wearing is the high tapered cut.

This is a cut designed for the Western market, to follow-up on the trend of tapered fits in the heritage denim scene over the past couple of years.

The rise is medium-high.

The top block is tall but somewhat narrow, with the seat being more square than round.

The thighs are relatively roomy and comfortable.

The taper is nicely done from the knees down, ending in an excellent 7.75 inch at size 36.

The inseam is a very generous 35 inches pre-shrunk. At 185 cm tall, I can easily double cuff the EX-202.



WWCo has again sourced some interesting denims from a small, family-run mill in Okayama, with whom they continue collaborating.

The EX-202 features a shuttle-loomed 18.5 oz mud-weft denim.

The warp is synthetic indigo rope-dyed.

This is a steel blue colour: grey tones, not overly bright, a deeper and darker blue.

Under cold sunlight, this denim has an old-school shade of blue, very smooth and pleasing.

The weft is sulfur dyed to brown.

This is a reddish-brown – reminding me of fine soil with iron oxide content – slightly brighter than most traditional mud-dip dyeing I’ve seen.

The yarns feature a mix of American cottons.

The denim is #5 size in terms of weft yarn, and a mix of #5 to #7 in the warp.

The texture is quite interesting – the starchy stiffness imparts smoothness, and yet the waves of little slubs add quite a bit of texture.

The slubs here are small and variegated, fairly different from larger or more intense slubbing that had been popular some years ago.

The effect is is achieved by the Japanese style of using uneven slub yarns.

This 18.5 oz denim is pre-shrunk using the Tempi method – secrets aside, this is basically a fabric treatment process whereby denim is stabilized in its dimensions with the use of starchy water whilst retaining most of its loomstate characteristics.

Singeing and calendering are not part of this process, and thus the denim still has a ‘raw’ feel.

However, the denim is heavier and less bouncy compared with true loomstate fabrics in the hand.

The result is very different from both sanforized and unsanforised denims.

This mud-weft denim is much more starchy and stiff compared to most I’ve handled; this is not a low-tension fabric which will break-in easily.

As mentioned before, the fabric is heavier, but slightly flatter/smoother in hand-feel compared to true loomstate Japanese denims.

It is more lively and interesting compared to sanforized denims.

The overall shade of indigo is quite beautiful – blue-steel with notes of wine-red – the combination results in a tone of blue that is rather smokey… cigar blue?

The mud-brown weft, popping out on the cuffs, is very eye-catching too.

This denim combines very well with leather boots due to both colour & texture.

The selvedge ID is pink.



For the Exquisite series, WWCo has included all the extra toppings which they could reasonable install on these jeans without making them too busy.

The deerskin patch features the same leather and cotton-flower stamping as last year’s EX-101.

The yoke lining is made with WWCo’s signature indigo cloth – handwoven, and vat-dyed with natural indigo using the wax-resist method.

The pattern on the cloth is the Japanese asanoha – hemp leaf – pattern.

The belt loops are raised in the center.

The one-piece, continuous selvedge fly returns!

This was one of my favourite hidden details on the EX-101.

More than just a selvedge gimmick, a well-executed selvedge fly improves the visual appearance, making the fly much neater and also more durable.

I don’t have any issues with lock-stitching at the fly, but the presentation of WWCo’s construct here is quite impressive – clean, almost minimalist, especially combined with the tonal stitching.

Black-coated copper hardware has been custom made by YKK Japan.

The buttons feature the cotton flower motif once again.

The back-studs are also customised.

The 5 button fly mixes two button sizes, all with the same design.

These buttons are high quality – solid feel, good thickness and easy to use.

The external and hidden rivets all feature the same WWCo logo as the button studs.

The punch-thru rivet should age nicely – a little bit of copper is already peaking through.

The back-studs of the external rivets feature more cotton flower.

A black woven tab is sewn into the outside edge of the coin pocket.

Here, we also glimpse the peek-a-boo selvedge edge.

More hand-woven asanoha cloth is used for the pocket bags.

The tonal stitching allows the natural indigo print to shine.

The arcuate – WWCo calls it the fundamental arcuate – is one of the most simple, but best executed, arcs coming out of Indonesia.

The arcs, being sewn with one continuous track, center the pockets without being too obtrusive.

The sewing on the EX series represents the best tailoring that can be had in Indonesia.

Being only limited by the types of vintage machines locally accessible, the stitch work is fantastic and represents a no-expense spared product of the industry in Indonesia.

Half a dozen thread colours have been combined with half a dozen thread thicknesses to produce a pair of jeans in true ‘golden-era’ style.

The major colours, lemon and tea, have been nicely balanced to still achieve a streamlined appearance with the vintage style sewing.

The stitching is dense and regular across the jeans.

I did not find a significant sewing defect on this pair.

The spacing of the stitch work from the folded edges throughout is very neat and regular also.

The sewing here, on the yoke, for example, is nicer than what I have seen from cheaper Japanese brands like TCB.

The stitching here is also THICK where it should be.

The contrast between heavy chain-stitched threads and the thinner single needle sewing is pleasing.

Even at the edge of the waist band – usually an area where even Japanese jeans will suffer from cosmetic sewing deficits – the EX-202 presents immaculate stitch-work.

The tonal stitching on the fly and the button holes hide how sturdy the construct has been made around these essential aspects.

Again, the thick chain-stitch is a detail not to be missed.

A detail which is sadly disappearing from many Japanese jeans over the past decade.

The back-tacking has been nicely done – dense, and neatly centered, covering the loops well.

The wheat coloured thread is a brave choice, but works well.

The inseam is neatly locked with dual tone stitching.

There are no fluff or loose threads here.

The hem features a very cool two-tone chain-stitch!

The blue and lemon combo is zesty 🙂

Overall, the EX-202 is incredibly well made, representing high quality sewing at any price-point.



In the 18 months since I last reviewed Warpweft Company, the denim scene in Indonesia – both manufacturing and consuming – has steadily grown. As far as Indonesian jeans go, the quality of manufacture continues to increase, little by little, every year.

However, the ‘taste’ for fashion and denim culture remains diverged from the more mature Western and Japanese markets. Many Indonesian makers continue to imbue their denim products with hyper-masculine imagery, complicated arcuates and overly busy design elements.

There lies my hesitancy in trying Indonesian jeans, generally speaking. The presentation of the whole – due to whatever cultural and social factors which are much beyond the scope of this article – is often too rough for my liking, and I believe also stops the local Indonesian brands from breaking out into established markets worldwide.

WWCo does not suffer from this issue. Rather than creating a story of ruggedness or masculinity – whatever that is supposed to look like on  a pair of pants – Herman at WWCo has pursued the ongoing evolution of his brand from the perspective of a hobbyist.

WWCo jeans aim to be the best jeans that he can make in Indonesia, as far as a denim nerd is concerned. There is no pursuit of gimmicks or illusionary imagery or lifestyle appeals. It’s just good jeans for people who care about denim.

Noticing that his local Indonesian consumers and the folks overseas are wanting different things from their jeans, Herman has chosen to create different sub-lines for his label. The Exquisite series features all the bells & whistles, and has now incorporated new cuts to suit larger body frames – this is WWCo’s export line, if you like.

Similar to how early Japanese makers took inspiration from the golden age of American denim, Herman (a first wave Japanese denim hobbyist) has taken inspiration for his jeans from the golden age of Japanese denim.

Folks who have been in this hobby for a few years will be able to discern this in the EX-202 here; these jeans are made in a way which is reminiscent of Japanese jeans from the 2000’s.

The EX-202 features many details which Japanese brands, in the past few years, have been slowly phasing out on some of their own jeans. Take the raised edges on the pockets for example. Or the use of high caliber cotton threading on the waist band chain-stitching.

In a decade during which Japanese makers are gradually streamlining their products and quietly eliminating some of the more costly aspects of jeans production, it’s both refreshing and nostalgic to see a hobby brand bring back all the details which fascinated me when I first got into the hobby almost 15 years ago.

As opposed to many of its Indonesian peers, the EX-202 is well-balanced in terms of aesthetics. It is understated where it needs to be, exemplified by the use of tonal sewing on the pockets and at the selvedge fly, and the simple but effective arc. However, it also provides visual impact where required – take the awesome yoke lining, for example, or the two-tone chain-stitch at the hem.

The details are also surprisingly refined for a non-Japanese denim maker. The use of thread colours, stitch types and thread thicknesses is very considered. The hardware is fully custom and quietly elegant. The sewing is such that the inside of the jeans is just as neat as the outside.

Like I mentioned in my previous review of the EX-101, the EX series from WWCo represents a better made and more thought-out pair of jeans compared with most American brands and the lower tier Japanese brands.

Yet, this being a review, its important to point out that there is still room for growth – no pair of jeans is perfect. Personally, I loved the fit of WWCo’s new high tapered cut from the thighs down. However, the top block is too restrictive for me. I would be wearing these jeans a lot more if there was a little more space in the crotch and seat.

The Tempi starch treatment on these 18.5 oz denim has made for a very rugged and stiff pair of jeans – it is not immediately comfortable and will require a significant break-in period. As such, my issue with regards to the crotch/seat being tight will likely remain until a few months of wear and a couple of machine washes is completed.

The tighter crotch and the stiff/heavy denim also means that the edge of the selvedge fly keeps poking me in the thigh when I walk.

Keep in mind, though, that fit is subjective.

I have a very atypical build for a person of Asian descent, been quite meaty even by Western standards. This means that most people won’t experience the same issue here with the top block fit.

The silhouette from the thighs down to the hem is excellent, and will suit most Western hobbyists much better than most Japanese offerings bar exceptional HT cuts such as those from Oni or Tanuki.

Overall, I would say that WWCo’s new high tapered cut will fit an average built Caucasian person nicely. Chunkier folks such as myself are better to wait for Herman to come up with a newer cut. Perhaps a relax tapered cut is in the works?

Further, despite WWCo’s jeans being some of the most visually refined Indonesian offerings available, I feel that the patch design can be re-worked to offer more synergy with the other details on the jeans. Perhaps a simplified cotton flower motif and more focus on font work could elevate the overall presentation here.

These subjective issues aside, the EX-202, as far as my review process goes, is without major flaws. The sewing and construct on this pair of jeans is very impressive, even when measured against more costly Japanese jeans.

The denim utilized is proper enthusiast grade Japanese denim. Herman worked closely with the mill in Okayama to deliver a fabric which will satisfied different types of denim-heads.

For his local Indonesian customers, fading is king, and thus the denim needs to be stiff; the Tempi treatment on this mud-weft fabric offers dimensional stability (easy to size, no guess work when ordering) whilst retaining the potential for high contrast fades. For Western customers, the tone of indigo and the subtleties in hand-feel are key factors; the careful combination of yarns and dyes on the warp and weft has created an excellent denim. The blue on this denim is beautiful, and the slubbing adds sublte texture without distracting from the indigo.

The caliber of the fabric, sewing and detailing on the EX-202 could rival Japanese jeans costing between $200 to $300, easily outpacing the cheaper Japanese offerings in the sub-200 price tier.

The advantage of Indonesian manufacture, however, allows WWCo to offer the EX-202 at $160 USD. This is very good value, to be sure.

To illustrate my point about value, let’s compare the EX-202 to its closest Japanese rival, the Japan Blue JB0626 ‘Godzilla’ jeans (which I reviewed in 2016), at around $170 to $180 USD if purchased from Japan: Both offer a 18 oz brown-weft denim in a high tapered cut. The EX-202 has subjectively better sewing, more detailing, and a higher tier of fabric. And, the EX-202 costs less too.

Jeans aside, I am a big fan of Herman’s dedication to our hobby, and his pursuit of refining his brand through the careful study of the trail-blazing Japanese makers. It really makes a discernible difference in the garment when the owner of the brand is a die-hard enthusiast.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does next.

Do check out the WWCo collection of cuts and denims on their website.

Oni 02100 limited edition shirts

Oni and Denimio have released the long-awaited 02100 check twill shirts to celebrate Denimio’s new website!

For long time denim heads and Oni fans, these fabrics should prove quite nostalgic and of collection value.

The 8 oz check twill fabrics featured on these shirts are dead stock  fabric which used to feature on some of Oni’s  jeans as pocket cloth around a decade ago.

The colours and patterning on this fabric was slightly difficult to capture, but this fabric is denser, heavier and more variegated in print compared with most check twills used for work-shirting.

These shirts are best described as shirt-jackets, or over-shirts, in terms of density, cut and construct.

Woven tags feature at the neck and also the hem.

The hardware consist of black-coated Oni buttons in two different sizes, as featured on some of their jeans.

Whether as a stand-alone shirt or a light jacket, these 02100 shirts are pretty versatile.

Because of the density of this twill cloth, this shirt will prove to be durable, but unsuitable for hot weather.

As mentioned previously, this fabric is dead-stock, available in red/black and yellow/blue.

No further productions or colours are forthcoming – once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Check them out at Denimio [red shirt] [yellow shirt]

Ekn – Max Herre desert boots

Type: review

Status: sponsored

Maker: Ekn

Item: Boots, leather

Price: $270 AUD


It’s been a long time since I’ve had a boot review up on the blog – indeed, I’ve been on a bit of a sneaker bender in the last months.

Courtesy of the folks at Keoma store, I’ve had the opportunity to re-visit the type of footwear that got me into the boot hobby in the first place – natural vegetable tanned leather shoes.

These are the Max Herre collaboration desert boots from the German footwear brand Ekn. A little bit different from the usual heritage style boots that attract denim heads, these desert boots presents a slightly different concept in that they are natural, environmentally friendly, and made with sustainability in mind.

The Ekn brand places an emphasis on its shoes being hand-made and organic. Let’s see how they stack up against the more traditional, heritage-style shoemakers.



As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, the desert boot was made popular by British soldiers fighting in Africa during WWII, being made in Egypt on custom requests, based on a South African design. It was claimed that the desert boot was a more practical & durable footwear compared with military issued boots at the time.

This pair we’re looking at today was made in the style of Clark’s mid-century interpretation of the desert boot: Two eyelets, crepe sole, and a flattened toe box.

Ekn’s version represents an upgrade on the original, however, with the additions of a backstay piece and a leather midsole. The leather is also thicker, and of a superior tannage, compared with Clark’s.

The crepe used here on the outsole is also a finer, more natural version of what is found on more mass-market desert boots; similar to Yuketen’s older style of crepe soles.



The 2.2 mm (5.5 oz) natural vegetable tanned leather – the star of the show – was tanned in Portugal. I am told that the tannery runs an environmentally friendly operation, with the waste water from the tannery being drinking quality.

Unfortunately, no particular details regarding the tannage or the tannery are available.

As far as I can discern, this leather is similar in characteristic to the American natural saddle leathers with which we are more familiar – tanned using bark powder within perhaps weeks.

The grain has moderate growth with good consistency and no major scarring.

The colour is fleshy pale, almost pink, which is easily oiled & buffed to a warm caramel tone.

Overall, I would say this is a modern veg tan with good aging potential.



These Ekn desert boots are made in Portugal with a stitch-down method not too dissimilar to the traditional Clark’s construct.

The clicking on this pair is done really well, especially given the fact that natural leather can show the flaws and inconsistencies in the hide much more easily.

The recycled threads stitches the upper through the midsole into the first layer of the crepe sole.

The first layer of crepe is then bonded to the bottom layer of crepe. This makes the outsole potentially replaceable, as the bottom layer of crepe can be renewed.

A finer stitch is used to construct the upper, attaching the four pieces of leather that make up the body of the boots.

I have been told that gluing was minimized in the construct of these boots, to reduce the impact on the environment.

The stitching is regular and neat.

The metal eyelets are firmly attached.

The tonal cotton laces used here are organic and also made in Portugal.

The edges of the sole unit have been burnished nicely, and the consistency of finish here is pretty good as far as a stitch-down desert boot construct is concerned.

Like most desert boots, a layer of foam pads the heel. Ekn has chosen, however, to place their white-coloured biofoam between the body and the mid-sole (instead of the traditional placement within the body, underneath the insole).

The Ekn branding is embossed onto the outside edge of the backstay.

Interestingly, in the style of American workboots, the top of the backstay has been folded into a pull-loop.

The insole is natural vegetable tanned calf leather with the collaboration logo embossed onto the heel.

As you can see, these boots are unlined.

Finally, the crepe is made from natural tree rubber.



The Ekn Max Herre boots, to me, embodies several interesting talking points for hobbyists.

From a branding perspective, the aspects of sustainability and environmental friendliness are core to the Ekn identity. In this age of global warming and Extinction Rebellions all over the world, the heritage menswear scene has been slow to respond to one of the essential demands of the 21st century – that its products be Earth-friendly.

Indeed, Ekn tries its very best to ensure all the individual components and processes are organic and sustainable. From the leather to the laces, each part of these desert boots make a smaller impact on our environment compared with what is usual found in our hobby (let alone mass market footwear).

My own opinion is that, as time goes on, environmental friendliness must increasingly be an essential consideration when it comes to selecting garments or boots, regardless of the styles or eras which interest us. We can hardly take nice photos for Instagram if the world burns up, after all?

A consequence of the mostly organic and non-toxic make of this pair of boots is that it can be worn barefoot, which is what I shall be doing in the upcoming Australian summer.

The natural leather construct of these boots make it a very interesting hobby boot, though this is a double edged sword. There is great potential for patina development and I’m sure leather nerds like myself will have a lot of fun with this pair.

The natural leather here seems to be on par, in terms of quality, with modern American veg tans from tanneries like Wicket & Craig or Hermann Oak. This is not enthusiast-level bark tanned leather, but remains much superior to the chrome or oil-tanned leathers used by brands like Clark’s or Red Wing.

However, I am pretty picky when it comes to the types of patina I find attractive on natural vegetable tanned leathers, and as such these boots, for me, cannot be worn in the rain or used for hard work. In working towards the type of patina I prefer, I’ve had to prep these boots before wear by oiling & buffing, and will only be wearing them as casual boots on the weekend.

Natural leather boots are not meant for the uninitiated, in my opinion.

In terms of the quality of construct, I would say that the Ekn desert boots are somewhere between the ubiquitous Clark’s and the more upmarket desert boots offerings from brands such as John Lofgren (a finer stitch-down), RM Williams or Tricker’s (Goodyear welted).

The sewing of the uppers and the configuration of the sole unit are superior to the original Clark’s. However, I am not a fan of the exposed foam layer at the heel. In consideration of the boots overall, I would say they are nicely made, but are not yet enthusiast quality as far as the niche of heritage footwear are concerned.

I have to say, however, at the asking price of $270 AUD, these Ekn boots are probably the nicest desert boots I’ve seen within the lower-end price tier. The aforementioned prestige brands are pricing their desert boots at two to three times the retail price  of this pair.

So, would I recommend these Ekn desert boots?

If you feel that environmental friendliness and sustainability are some of your core values, then yes, Ekn’s offerings would be right up your alley. If you are interested in exploring a patina project of natural veg tanned shoes, these desert boots would be perfect vehicles too. If you have a limited budget, but are looking for something more substantial than Clark’s mass market products, then Ekn’s alternatives are excellent choices.

However, if you’re looking for the best-made desert boots, these aren’t it. These Ekn Max Herre desert boots are firmly in the beginner’s tier as far as hobbyist footwear is concerned.

To summarize, these Ekn veg tanned desert boots differentiates itself from other hobbyist footwear by focusing on sustainability and patina potential. The quality of construct and pricing place it in the beginner’s tier of hobbyist footwear, though the upgrade in terms of materials and make are easily discernible compared with mass market offerings from Clark’s.

Check out Keoma store for Ekn’s boots & sneakers.