The Real McCoy’s – Joe McCoy ’10 Mile’ monkey boots

I’ve been thinking about reviewing garments from The Real McCoy’s for some years now, but given I already own a few Buzz Rickson jackets and way too many Japanese jeans, a proper McCoy’s review kept being pushed back.

Now that The Real McCoy’s are in Australia, there’s no excuse any longer. So, here it is finally, a McCoy’s review – a pair of their Joe McCoy boots no less!

Overview

The boots we’re looking at today is a pair of ’10 Mile’ monkey boots under the Joe McCoy (work & sports-wear reproduction) sub-brand.

These ’10 Mile’ boots are based on American roofer boots from the middle of the twentieth century, so the styling here is a little more old-school and rugged compared with modern day monkey boots, e.g. the Tricker’s monkey boots reviewed on this blog some months ago.

This particular style of shoe is not often reproduced, the only widely sold version being Thorogood’s portage boots, which are reproductions of their own styles from decades ago – notice, though, the original version were constructed using the stitch-down method (as is this Joe McCoy boot), whereas modern Thorogood boots are Goodyear welted.

Joe McCoy’s monkey boots are offered in all black horsehide, all brown horsehide, or the multi-leather version you see here.

Shape & Fit

The ’10 Mile’ boot is D-width and laced-to-toe. The toe box is fairly tall and reasonably wide – this is a work boot after all – the fit being immediately comfortable.

The boot tapers inward after the toe box, though the instep, ankle and heel are not too tight at all. I suspect the very soft steerhide suede adds to the comfort too. The fit throughout is a bit more snug compared with most Pacific Northwestern stitch-down boots from the USA, which tend to fit generously, as they are true work boots.

Given this is a roofer style boot, the tightness of the shaft is very easily adjusted by changing the tension in the lacing. The overall shape from any angle is not clunky, but is in fact quite sleek from the vamp to the top edge.

Apart from the horsehide used on the vamp/toe and the back-stay, the leathers used in the rest of the upper are very soft, so comfort levels should be very high unless your feet width is above E.

The sizing is similar to Pacific Northwestern stitch-down boots, e.g. White’s, Nick’s, Wesco, etc. Take your true Brannock’s US size if you want to wear these boots with thick work-socks, or size down half to pair with casual socks.

 

Leather

The leathers on the ’10 Mile’ boots are Japanese vegetable tanned horsehide, though on the multi-leather version vegetable tanned steerhide suede and oil-tanned cattlehide also feature.

The horsehide used for the toe and the backstay is very nice quality indeed, the colour being more purple than brown under natural sunlight. It is fairly oily for a vegetable tanned leather, and the grain is very much alive and not over-corrected.

The steerhide suede is high quality, with a fine and dense nap. The temper of the suede is much softer compared with the horsehide.

Finally, the tongue is made with a remarkably soft white leather, which I think is oil tanned. All in all, the materials here are retro, but top-class.

Construction

The first aspect of these boots that caught my attention was the precision of the stitch-down! Hands down the cleanest and most consistent double stitch-down I’ve seen, trumping everything that I’ve personally handled from North America in recent years. (Check out my American boot reviews to see where the standard lies nowadays.)

Not only is the stitching precise, but how the edges have been cut and burnished is also remarkable. There are two layers of natural vegetable tanned leather as mid-soles, so, adding the uppers, there are three to four layers of leather at the front of the boot – all seamlessly combined. The mid-sole construct on this pair puts my recently reviewed Nick’s oxford shoes to shame, really.

Two thread colours are used on the uppers, in single and double row configurations. The stitching is dense, neat and very consistent. Some of the nicest stitch-work I’ve seen on a work boot.

The edge burnishing is also very nicely done on the sole unit.

There is nothing I could find to complain about really. All the pieces of leather on the upper fit together nicely, and the mid-sole and edges are remarkably clean.

The top edge, with the addition of a stitched collar, is cut very precisely.

Sole Unit & Misc.

Steel eyelets and speedhooks are used – sturdy and well placed.

The waxed laces are great quality too, tying and draping nicely.

A woven tag features inside the tongue.

The inside of the boots are fully lined with leather.

The unit crepe sole is customised.

All in all, excellent specs.

 

Opinion

Overall? Fantastic boots!

These ’10 Mile’ monkey boots from The Real McCoy’s is the most well made pair of stitch-down work boots I’ve come across in person just yet.

Generally speaking, most North American stitch-down makers are producing work that is less precise compared with Japanese makers nowadays; these monkey boots are a good reminder of the level of neatness that one could expect on a nice pair of stitch-downs.

As far as reproduction roofer boots go, these are the best stock boots that money can buy. At 108, 000 yen, you could buy 3 pairs of Thorogood’s version of the roofer boot for the same cost, but the quality of these McCoy boots simply cannot be beat.

McCoy’s boots occupy a fairly small niche though: The Real McCoy’s boots are fairly expensive as far as work-wear footwear goes, and I know that for many readers, paying the same money for a customised or even bespoke pair of shoes would prove to be the better proposition (value wise).

Ultimately, McCoy’s leather products are made for hobbyists with genuine passion in work-wear and military-wear reproduction and folks for whom money is no consideration. The Real McCoy’s sit in the top tier of Japanese heritage brands, alongside The Flat Head, etc, so if you like vintage inspired clothing, McCoy’s boots are a must see!

These ’10 Mile’ monkey boots, along with other Joe McCoy boots and Buco engineer boots can be ordered through Godspeed Store. Simply send Marty an e-mail.

Recent leather photos

More and more I’m using the camera on my new HTC U11 for snapping photos on the go. This being my 5th HTC phone in the past 8 years, I’m finding that with every iteration there is less and less difference in terms of photos quality between camera phones and the Micro Four Thirds camera/lenses I usually utilise for the blog.

Anyway, with the leather updates today, the photos have all been taken using the digital camera on my HTC phone!

First up, cleaning and conditioning some wallets. Various shades of brown…

Apart from two newer wallets which you’d have seen in the past few months, you might also recognise the mid-wallets from Angelos and Blackacre which were originally reviewed here in 2011. Don’t worry, there’ll be new Blackacre goodies on this blog soon!

Taking the Faler Leathers bifold out for a spin again after resting it for a couple of months. The Wickett & Craig natural vegetable tanned leather is at a shade of tan which I really like, though it will continue to darken with time and wear, of course. To see what it looked like brand new, see my review.

The Shonan natural vegetable tanned leather on my mill handmade  Japanese wallet hasn’t been in rotation for as long as the Faler Leathers bifold, but there’s a fair bit more staining, darkening and general wear on the leather. This leather from Shonan is a more reactive than its American counterparts.

Early morning light really shows off the indigo stain and the darker tone. To see what the wallet looked like originally, see my review!

My Natural belt from Hawkmoth Leather Co. is progressing well – the edges have darkened quite rapidly due to the water burnish treatment, and really frames the whole belt as the leather ages gradually.

The oak bark tanned leather from Baker’s tannery is quite reactive in terms of the grain popping, but the colour changes a little more slowly than Shonan’s version of natural veg tan. To see the original condition of the leather, see my review.

Last but not least is my Chahin IV belt from Voyej. The leather is starting to develop a nice red tone, which gives it a different shade from the Baker’s and Shonan leathers.

The red tone is the main reason for my liking of Chahin’s vegetable tanned leathers. The leather hasn’t aged as fast as my Chahin I belt did, but it is ageing in a gentle and even kind of way. To see what this belt looked like new, check out the previous review.

 

mill handmade – Elliot wallet (scaled edition)

Rocky at mill handmade has been hard at work over the past few months, not only producing more complex wallet builds but also he has made upgrades to the Elliot wallet, which is one of his first designs.

Check out the original Elliot wallet review from 2016 here, or have a look at the review for the larger Japanese wallet here.

Rocky’s just sent over one of his latest Elliot wallets, featuring the updated specs and also a playful twist. Keep in mind the regular Elliot wallets that you can purchase from mill handmade doesn’t feature the experimental design featured here – I’ll explain further. Let’s have a look!

 

Design

Similar to the original design, the Elliot wallet remains a card wallet in function. It can hold a few cards, some notes and a handful of coins – suitable for light carry, but not designed to replace full sized wallets.

Overall, the current Elliot wallet design differs from the previous version by being slightly larger (8.3 cm x 11.1 cm), possessing a full lining and featuring a snap closure. The new wallets are thus more substantial, and practically easier to use.

You’ll notice that this particular wallet here is not the usual one piece outer design. Instead, Rocky has made a scaled version of the Elliot wallet here – just for fun – and the aesthetics of the outer is quite different from the regular version of this wallet.

The scaled version features six scales of various leathers (in this case natural or tan vegetable tanned leathers), with a separate flap that is a single piece of leather. Compared with the Elliot wallet I reviewed last year, this one is much more playful!

 

Leather

The leather scales, from top to bottom, in the photo below are:

Buttero veg tan, Hermann Oak veg tan, Greenhalgh veg tan kangaroo, Horween reversed shell cordovan, Shonan veg tan, and Wickett & Craig veg tan.

The flap is made out of Hermann Oak natural veg tan leather, and the lining consists of Perlinger shrunken calf from Germany.

All of these leathers have been introduced on this blog at some point, but together they represent most of the top natural vegetable tanned leathers in the world; this wallet should be an interesting exercise in comparing leather evolution!

The shell cordovan is combo tanned…but let’s not be overly pedantic ;D

 

Construct

As per the original Elliot wallet, the newest versions are entirely handmade, of course. Hand cut, hand saddle-stitched, hand burnished…there’s nothing quick about the construction of this wallet.

The saddle-stitch utilises waxed Lin cable threads. This time around, the stitching is also accompanied by edge creasing, which is also present on the scales.

Prym snap fasteners are plated solid brass, from Italy – very smooth in operation.

The full shrunken calf lining, in part, holds the scales together. The scales are hand-sewn around the edges of the wallet of course, and to the flap too, but are additionally glued to the lining. The tension created by the folded shape keep the scales in line too, with the scales overlapping by around 5 mm.

The shape of the inner edge has been modified, looking aesthetically smoother than the deeper curve featured on older Elliot wallets.

All the edges are hand burnished to a smooth polish; the contrast between the shrunken calf and the natural leathers makes for interesting edges.

 

Opinion

All in all, the newest versions of the Elliot wallet by Rocky at mill handmade contain several welcomed upgrades, both aesthetic and practical.

The slightly larger size and modified inner edge makes card retrieval that much easier, and the textured lining (shrunken calf for my wallet, there are other choices) means that coins are held more securely. The full lining extending to the flap, in my opinion, adds more elegance to the wallet too.

I especially appreciate the addition of the snap fastener. In my eyes this change cements the Elliot wallet as a card wallet rather than just a card case. Rocky’s handcraft continues to grow in sophistication, and minor detailing upgrades such as the nicely creased edges add greatly to the overall smoothness of the wallet.

The appearance of the wallet sits somewhere between fine leather goods and heftier, workwear inspired leathers. In overall thickness and ruggedness, goods from mill handmade are certainly somewhat different compared with most other leather makers I have reviewed on this blog – the aesthetics are sleeker, more streamlined. Rocky’s crafts will combine well with denim jeans, but will also work with a suit and tie.

Please do keep in mind that the scaled version of this wallet is a proof of concept, hobbyist experiment kind of deal. If you’re not a fan of the scaled design, do have a look at the regular version of the Elliot wallet, which features only one single piece of leather on the outer.

Once again I’m impressed by Rocky’s continued exploration of some of the finest leathers in the world. Given that customisation is the name of the game, the Elliot wallet could feature some very strong combos: Want European? Imagine a Baranil outer with a Minerva Box lining! Sticking with workwear roots? Try Hermann Oak with Badalassi’s Pueblo.

To conclude, it’s nice to see the continued evolution of mill handmade. At AUD $115 these new Elliot wallets are great value if you’re looking for minimalist, hand-stitched wallets. It’s perfect for travel and also suitable for people who carry mostly cards or pack lightly.

Check out more of Rocky’s work at the mill handmade website.

Tanuki Inc. – Z denim and long wallets

Dropped by Godspeed again this weekend as Marty’s had a new shipment of brand new Tanuki Inc. pieces. Marty and co-resident Ben had been shooting some Joe McCoy products for their kingly blogs, but my own interests were captured mainly by the new denim and leathers.

Let’s have a look at Tanuki’s new Z denim first; this is a sample pair, size 32 in their Tapered cut.

If you have read my Tanuki Red Cast denim review (click to read!) from a couple of months back, you might notice that most of the detailing and construct here is largely the same. The fabric is different of course, but some smaller aspects of the jeans have been altered too.

I can’t be sure of exact measurement comparisons (the only sample pair here is a size 32, whereas my Tanuki jeans are both size 36), but judging from the placement of, and relative space occupied by, the leather patch, it would seem the rise has been increased on these new jeans?

The lighter coloured denim gives these jeans a bit more pop and contrast – the light coloured stitching really jumps out.

The denim itself is medium weight (I’m guessing ~14 to 15 oz) and fairly irregular and slubby. I would imagine the slub and hairiness would both dramatically increase after shrink-to-fit.

The accent threads have switched back to the usual light blue for the Z denim jeans, the gingham pocket cloth also returns to the original blue checks.

The hardware and general stitch pattern remains the same.

A new addition on the latest run of Tanuki jeans is a woven tag sewn into the waistband, just behind the leather patch! This is similar to Oni’s tag placement, of course. This tag talks about the unsanforised, slow-woven nature of this fabric and its raw, untreated nature, and the fact it will shrink after contact with water.

The denim is really cool, reminiscent of some of the older fabrics that Oni produced in the 2000s – the weave tension is loose but actual weave is relatively dense.

On closer inspection you’ll also see the hairiness of this denim.

All in all, a very interesting new denim. If I can get my hands on a size 36 pair, I’ll have a full review later this year.

But that’s not all folks……new leathers!

You might remember the Tanuki Inc. bifold wallets I posted a few months ago – those were roller foot machine-stitched using some very nice Japanese leathers. Marty still has a couple in store. These new long wallets are at a completely different level!

The new wallets are completely hand-stitched by M-san, with upgrades in construct and materials, and come in two versions – shell cordovan and natural vegetable tanned leather.

The natural wallet is the more basic of the two, but the quality remains at a higher end, bespoke level. Hand-tooling/stamping and Tanuki’s signature blue threads are featured here. The leather appears to be the same as the Japanese vegetable tanned carving leather used previously on the bifolds.

The shell version is my favourite out of the two. The shell looks and feels like Shinki shell cordovan. The blue suede lining and zipper look amazing, and the more simplistic outer and uniform stitch colour shows off the shape of the wallet and the characteristics of the leather better, IMO.

All in all, really impressed by M-san’s work for Tanuki so far. Hopefully I’ll have a full review of one of M-san’s wallets up on the blog later this year.

 

The Rite Stuff – ‘Heracles’ shirt review

Over the years, by the simple virtue of having been in this hobby for a period of time, I’ve accumulated a closet full of Japanese made reproduction work-shirts. I must confess though, I don’t wear them anywhere as often as I really should. The fabrics are nice, the designs combine well with denim, and the details are superb……yet, I cannot say that these shirts fit me particularly well. Indeed, my Uniqlo shirts get much more of a workout than my Japanese chambray shirts, purely due to goodness of fit.

The problem is my build – despite having East Asian ancestry, my physical build is a fair bit more solid than my Chinese/Japanese kin. In fact, I’m above average even here in Australia in terms of height and bulk :-S

So it is little wonder the boxy, tubular cuts of my beloved Japanese work-shirts don’t fit me as well as I hope they would – sleeves that are too short, armholes that are cut to high and tight, backs that are not wide enough, shirts that are not long enough, etc.

With the goodness-of-fit dilemma in mind, fellow Superfuturian Bryan (Iron Horse) has come to our rescue with his new shirting brand – The Rite Stuff.

The basic idea behind The Rite Stuff is the modification of proportions and alterations in the cut – to create Japanese work-shirts that are better fitted to “Western” body builds. To achieve this, The Right Stuff utilises Japanese, narrow-loom selvedge fabrics, and via John Lofgren’s shirting workshop, turns them into vintage-styled, modern-fit shirts.

The Rite Stuff first run of shirts is the ‘Heracles’ chambray shirt – available in sizes S to XXL – a mid-century inspired blue chambray work-shirt, a modern take on the Hercules shirts throughout those decades.

In this review, I’ll try and include photographs taken under various lighting conditions to give you an idea about the possible colour tones this chambray might show. Let’s take a look!

 

Fit & Pattern

Fans of work-shirts would be able to tell that this ‘Heracles’ shirt is not a strict reproduction, instead it combines elements and details from the 1930s to 1950s, though in overall appearance could be considered a mid-century inspired shirt.

Photo taken by Martin Kirby at Godspeed Store

From the front, the ‘Heracles’ looks to be an offspring of mid-century Hercules chambray shirts. Though the yoke details and the appearance of the back hint at inspirations from other brands such as POWR HOUSE.

The fit tells a different story however…

The Rite Stuff’s shirts are certainly cut for the build of a 21st century man. Japanese fabrics made into a shirt fitting the ‘Western’ physique is the general idea here, though larger Asian blokes like myself will appreciate Bryan’s aim. Too often, the shirts (or even the sweaters and jackets) made by Japanese brands are a terrible fit for me, resulting in many purchasing mistakes during the early years of my hobby. This ‘Heracles’ shirt fits well, no doubt, with a cut that is much closer to contemporary shirting that I might find in an Australian clothing store.

The fit here is not boxy at all, but instead allows for a relatively slimming silhouette on a frame that holds a bit more meat, i.e. a more V-shaped cut. The arms are a little longer relative to the chest size compared with most Japanese shirts. The width across the upper back is larger. The length and tail shape allows for the shirt to look good both tucked in and un-tucked on taller guys.

The V-shaped taper, however, is relatively pronounced. Heavier guys will find the waist to be tight. For me, not being in the best shape, there is a bit of pressure in the waist when I sit down. If you have a beer gut, this shirt is a no go! Bryan has mentioned that the waist of the shirt will possibly be cut a bit looser for the next shirt release – i.e. the V-shape will be less pronounced – in order to accommodate more varied body shapes. The current measurements will likely not suit guys with narrow shoulders, narrow back or a beer gut.

The Large size here fits me fairly well – for reference, I am usually a size 44 in tailored shirts and jackets, and I am 185 cm tall.

 

Materials

The fabric here is a 5 oz cotton chambray, woven in Japan, indigo-dyed and one-washed.

The weave is fairly dense, yet the chambray has a textured and soft hand-feel. The blue is deep, the overall tone reminiscent of mid-century chambray work shirts. The grain is larger and more variegated compared to many other Japanese chambray fabrics.

I own many chambray shirts (I’m guessing many of you do too), and I must say this is one of the nicer fabrics in my collection. Very often, chambray shirts from lower end brands are too thin and the fabric is ‘limp’ or untextured, and yet chambray shirts from the high end reproduction brands can sometimes be oddly stiff and scratchy. I’m glad to say – the weight and comfort for this The Rite Stuff chambray strike a good balance. This chambray is light enough for layering or warmer weather, yet is sturdy enough that the shirt gives a substantial, work-wear feel.

One issue for many chambray shirts is that the fabric can be too heavy, or overly stiff when washed, resulting in poor draping and an awkward silhouette when worn – this is not a problem here. The chambray featured on this Heracles shirt is textured yet comfortable, with a very pleasant hand.

The buttons on this shirt are paint coated metal, which hold the promise of chipping with time & wear, and thus aging in parallel with the chambray itself.

These cat’s eye buttons certainly have old school appeal – notice the tonal stitch which secures the buttons, just like the various chambray shirts from mid-century!

 

Details & Construct

The Heracles shirt features double & triple chain-stitching along the main seams, with single & double lock-stitching along high wearing seams (hem, cuffs, pockets, etc).

The stitch work and seam closing, overall, are very well done. I did not notice any defects on the shirt, or any obviously wonky stitching.

The collar is two-piece and spear-pointed – nice and retro! The collar is not as wide or as tall as that on many mid-century work shirts, though given the relatively low rigidity of the chambray fabric, I think a shorter collar looks neater and maintains it’s shape better. Reproduction purists may be hoping for longer, taller and wider collars, but in my own experience with vintage shirts, I find the large collars tend to lose shape and crease quickly, especially with softer cotton fabrics such as chambray.

The woven cotton tag is very nicely done here – made in Japan indeed.

A full front placket button down is featured – no funny business, just a straight line going down.

Two simple but functional chest pockets are present – there are no additional pen slots or cigarette pockets, which are not particularly useful in the modern context. These pockets aren’t large enough to fit a modern smart-phone, however.

The yoke is reinforced and curved, with the reinforcement extending to under the armholes and around to the shoulders at the front.

Ventilation eyelets make appearances in these parts of the shirt – there are seven of them in total.

The elbows are reinforced by the doubling of the fabric, right down to the cuffs.

Smaller sized gussets are used to reinforce the shirt, made using the selvedge portions of the chambray. There is no chain-stitch run-off for this first run of shirts.

High stress areas are reinforced with tonal bar-tacking.

The tail is slightly curved, looking rather nice when the shirt is un-tucked.

 

Thoughts

The Rite Stuff is definitely a welcomed addition to this hobby of ours and it signifies, in many ways, the continued growth and expansion of the denim & work-wear hobbies outside Japan.

Being made with premium Japanese chambray in Lofgren’s workshop, there’s no doubting the quality and craftsmanship of this Heracles shirt. Guys who have owned Lofgren branded shirts in the past know that they were some of the nicest workshirts money can buy, right up there with the Neal Cassady railroad shirts from Freewheelers, and this Heracles shirt continues that proud tradition.

Photo taken by Martin Kirby at Godspeed Store.

The Heracles shirt being the first product from The Rite Stuff, expect adjustments and improvements to continue over the next couple of shirt runs. With this first-run fit, the Heracles shirt is easy to wear and allows fantastic freedom of movement in the arms and back. The waist is trim, which facilitates the shirt being tucked in, allowing a vintage-style tuck with modern, lower rising pants.

The vintage-inspired features – spear-point collar, double elbows, curved yoke, underarm reinforcements, ventilation eyelets, etc – are very nicely executed and add a lot of character to this work-shirt. Chambray shirts can be a bit boring sometimes, but the Heracles shirt has many eye-catching details and is quite striking both from the front and the back.

Photo taken by Martin Kirby at Godspeed Store.

All in all, I’ve been very impressed by Bryan’s attention to detailing and carefully researched modifications on this Heracles shirt. The 5 oz Japanese selvedge chambray is top notch, as is the construct of the shirt. The fit of this shirt will likely appeal to those who are tall or athletically built (thicker chest, wider back).

Bryan has hinted that The Rite Stuff may be producing more vintage inspired shirts & tops made with a variety of Japanese fabrics. I’ll keep you guys updated via the blog regarding any future releases!

Definitely check out this Heracles chambray shirt on The Rite Stuff’s webshop!

 

 

The Real McCoy’s – product night Australia

After many months of work, Marty at Godspeed Store has launched The Real McCoy’s in Australia!

Have at some photos from product night, 7/7/17.

Besides checking out some RMC products in the flesh, I met a few hobbyists from Instagram and Superfuture too!

The leather jackets and sweatshirts were lighter than I had expected, and can certainly be worn for many months out of the year here in the south of Australia.

Judging by how most of the guests were dressed, I didn’t think there were all that many hardcore denim or work-wear hobbyists in the crowd – there’re not that many of us around anyway, and it’s good to see Japanese reproduction brands attracting a diverse crowd.

I bumped into Jordan, who also owns a Japanese wallet made by Rocky of mill handmade. His has a Horween shell outer, Buttero inner; see our wallets side-by-side below.

Other themes of the night were knitted caps (every second person is wearing one???) and dogs!

Marty and Nick of Denham Australia with their puppers below.

Congratulations to Godspeed and Marty for this The Real McCoy’s launch!

You’ll see some RMC pieces here and on my Instagram feed as I start to get a sense of McCoy’s sizing.

 

 

Godspeed Store visit and PSA

Popped by Godspeed Store on the weekend and had a chat with Marty. Exciting news! The Real McCoy has finally come to Australia officially, and the launch is this Friday night – pop by to Godspeed Store at 1800 for the product night event!

I’ll be there – come find me to get you photo taken~

Some interesting stuff at the store recently too – Buaisou and Tanuki products carrying some serious indigo. The Buaisou indigo repair kit:

Laces & bracelets, indigo everything:

Tanuki‘s Red Cast denim jeans (RCT1) finally in Australia too!

Check out my review of this pair from a couple of months back – you can click through in the Reviews tab in the blog’s menu 🙂

Marty took a photo of my own RCT1 – here at 2 months:

Finally, an exciting brand to drop at Godspeed Store soon – The Rite Stuff!

My review of The Rite Stuff’s ‘Heracles‘ chambray work-shirt is coming up soon~