Rolling Dub Trio x Mushman’s collaboration Coupen boots review

Rolling Dub Trio (RDT) is a work boot brand from Japan.

Despite being relatively new – established only in 2007 – RDT already has a few models which have become classics in the workwear scene, such as the ‘Whale’ oxford shoe and the ‘Giraffe’ engineer’s boot.

The ‘Coupen’ low work boot, however, is their signature model.

Many RDT retailers would usually have a couple of custom Coupen make-ups in stock every year, in addition to the standard, plain-toe CXL black & brown offerings.

When I heard that Mushman’s store was doing a collaboration Coupen boot with RDT, I was immediately interested. Pre-orders were taken earlier this year and the boots were shipped late September.

My somewhat impulsive purchase was due to the fact that the collaboration boot is a little different from all the other Coupens, and has benefited from Mushman’s close association with the Badalassi Carlo tannery of Tuscany, Italy.

Xmas has come early 🙂

Let’s take a look at the Rolling Dub Trio x Mushman’s collaboration Coupen boots!

Overview

The Coupen is a true “low work boot”, a style of shoe which is exceedingly rare nowadays. The only other well known low work boot is perhaps Lone Wolf’s ‘Sweeper’.

This Coupen features full Goodyear welting, single layer leather mid-sole, 5 antiqued eyelets, rolled leather laces, contrast white threads, single/double/triple stitching, leather lined vamp, collar with pinking, one-piece heel counter and plain toe.

Shape & Fit

The shape is somewhat longer, rounder and narrower than most American work boots and English country shoes. The last shape is rounded and tall, with the boot having a small upturn, resulting in a fairly interesting aesthetic.

At true to Brannock’s size (TTS) the Coupen will fit well with thick socks. The heel is relatively chunky, so for me most of the hold is from the mid-foot forward. The toe box is just right in width, and fairly roomy vertically. I would recommend sizing down by 0.5 size if you plan to wear them with thin or medium socks.

The Coupen does not feature the strong arch support of some American makers, as they are designed to accommodate the typical East Asian foot, which is flatter. Westerners beware when purchasing Japanese boots – they will prove uncomfortable and fatiguing if you have particularly high arches.

Leather

The leather used here is a special one indeed.

Regular versions of the Coupen are made with Horween’s Chromexcel (CXL) cattlehide. This collaboration pair is instead made with Badalassi Carlo’s ‘Minerva Liscio’ leather in cognac, measured by me at 2 mm (5 oz).

Badalassi’s Minerva leather is their top of the range vegetable tanned, full grain leather. It is hand-dyed after tanning, and finished by hand-stuffing with a currying mix containing high amounts of neatsfoot oil. The result is a leather that has a brilliant but natural colour and a fine grain, with the character of the hide on full display. The ‘Liscio’ (‘Smooth’) version is featured, instead of the ‘Box’ version (where the grain is shrunk post tanning).

The hand is smooth but not slippery, with moderate rigidity when new. The oil content appears to be medium to high.

I definitely prefer this leather to CXL. The Minerva has a nicer colour, finer grain, better depth in colour & shine and is very much classier. CXL is a retanned leather that is much oilier compared with the Minerva, and so CXL is probably much more water resistant as a result of the tannage and stuffing…the Minerva is prettier though. I have seen the Coupen made with CXL of the same tan colour, and the CXL is certainly patchier and more uneven in the grain, looking a fair bit coarser.

Construction

The construct?

It is next-level in terms of work boots!

As you can see in the many photos above, the work is finer and more precise compared to the North American workboot makers by whom RDT has been inspired. I know this is a pretty big statement, and is bound to make some people uncomfortable…but you simply must take a close look at these Coupen boots and hold them in your hands, as these are something else.

Unlike the recently reviewed Truman Boot Co. boots and my other American boots which have a few minor cosmetic faults, this pair of Coupen’s have no such issues. No less rugged, just more carefully made.

The only nicer workboots I’ve seen would be White Kloud’s custom offerings, which cost nearly twice as much.

Sole Unit & Misc.

The outsole is no less well made. The heels are deadstock Cat’s Paw. The soles are cork nitrile, though with the front end shaved and flushly attached to leather quarter-soles which is in turn attached to custom metal taps.

This version features a single layer leather mid-sole.

This boot is seriously over-built, with no element overlooked 🙂

The tongue is dead centre, and doesn’t move around when worn.

The collar is fully pinked, with the placement and stitching holding perfectly.

The inside of the shoe is no less neat, and features leather-lined vamp and leather heel-pads.

I was a very happy camper wearing these boots on the first day.

The Coupen is almost perfect…almost.

Perfect, until the leather lace on the right boot inexplicably broke on the second day of wear.

I suspect the rolled leather lace was too ‘wet’ (over-oiled), which adversely affected the strength and structural integrity of the lace.

Oh well~~~

Temporarily rescued with Buaisou’s natural indigo cotton laces.

I’ve ordered some flat waxed cotton lacing on advice of fellow boot-friend Ray Lansburg, but I’m liking this indigo + cognac combo more and more.

Opinion

All in all, the Rolling Dub Trio x Mushman’s Badalassi Carlo cognac Minerva Luscio Coupen boot is almost perfect. This Coupen is certainly the nicest low work boot I’ve ever handled, and might I say both the boot and the leather look amazing.

It’s not only one-tier above Lone Wolf’s Sweeper boot, but also finer than the regular versions of the Coupen due to Badalassi’s Minerva leather.

Everything from the packaging to the construction of the sole are considered and carefully executed. The Coupen manages to be rugged yet refined at the same time. Even though Rolling Dub Trio has taken inspiration from the heritage of Americana, their Japanese spirit is certainly strongly expressed in the finer details.

There is nothing I dislike about the Coupen, apart from the leather laces breaking :-/

At 65000 yen +/- tax + shipping, this Coupen boot is certainly not cheap. I am aware that this is much cheaper than the bespoke European & Japanese shoes that some readers may favour, but do keep in mind these are work boots.

Certainly, if you’re after value, then RDT’s offerings are not for you. If you must have Japanese boots and money is a consideration, you’ll be much happier buying Lone Wolf’s offerings at one price-tier below. I’m guessing that if you’re buying Made in Japan, however, value is probably not your most important consideration.

For Japanese work boots under $1K, I’d strongly recommend having a look at Rolling Dub Trio’s Coupen boot – a finer low work boot I have not seen!

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