SOLS deck shoes x pillowHeat ~ a fated/fortuitous collab in the #yearofthechukka December 10 2018


the seed was 1st planted by my younger french brother #tVAN back in early '17, tagging me in the post via parisian connoissuermers @starcowparis, in the form of the sexiest chukka i had seen in over 20 years! im first to admit i live in my insular little bubble of og vans. i was aware that heads been pushing old-world deck shoe silhouettes out of japan for years but who was this @solsdeckshoes pioneering this mini chukka revival?!? to my absolute amazement not only were sols pushing og silhouettes but they were doing this in full crepe rubber form!! thus leading me to this very moment & the imminent release of my first official footwear collaboration made in japan with full crepe vulc!

upon reaching out to sols i was stoked to discover mr muta san was aware of my operation & if i understood correctly he was a fan of my old blogspot dating back nearly a decade! i inundated him with a multitude of questions & i was blown away to learn about the long history of rubber manufacture dating back to 1873, & 2 rival factories located in muta's home town of kurume japan. admittedly i had never heard of moonstar factory, nor asahi but they were in fact responsible for several of the aforementioned old-world deck shoes coming out of japan the last 10(?) years. fast forward several months when i find myself in tokyo hosting my first international pop-up shop with the opportunity to travel south through fukuoka to ultimately meet my adopted japanese brother.


despite not being able to speak the same language, meeting muta san was like approaching my japanese doppleganger.... & besides we both spoke the language of old-world canvas & rubber! his store @persica4 was like a wormhole to my shop in a parallel universe, offering shoes for sale from both moonstar & asahi factories, surrounded by original vulcanised usa-made ephemera. his taste is more varied than mine, taking inspiration from og converse, keds, red ball, mr sneekers, randy, et al.... but his obvious love was for sperry & vans. in his own words, he mixed the narrow last & outsole that are close to the original sperry, making vulcanised sneakers with the idea of replicating the old style chukka design. sols utilise the sperry style flat outsole with wave cuts, similar to the blue siped og vans outsoles of styles #45 & #46. the mind blowing nugget however was the reality that sols use full crepe rubber compound produced out of the oldest rubber factory in japan, utilising the same methods since 1873, where our visit was being entertained later that afternoon!


kurume is famous for 2 things; their ramen & their old world craft. the moonstar visit was like a portal into another dimension whereby all my coveted anahiem factory footage was brought into live action! moonstar had been manufacturing with rubber in the same way since 1873 & the very same way which produced the van's shoes we adore. i observed the process from crude materials into final product. the full production line of handmade craft. now, my loyalties are clear & my allegiance to the van's family is unquestioned but at the same time im devoted to this crafsmanship of yesteryear & given the opportunity to design & produce a shoe of choice as they once were, i was wide awake! as such the seeds germinated that day & i felt comfortable in the chukka silhouette which i perceived as public license, & one which van's appeared not to be taking great ownership of (yet).


i walked away that day having met who i feel will be a long-time friend, inspired by this new venture & wearing brand new vulcanised chukkas on my feet. mr muta san & family hosted us for the day & gifted me with 2 pairs of his own private collection 1st-run (asahi) sols chukkas..... including 1 made with the pure indigo from the @shimogawakyozo mill we happened to visit by chance that am! i could waffle on about the design process for days & of course the distance, cost & language barrier made things challenging but i am absolutely stoked with the final result. the colourway is bold but i was never gonna play it safe. of course the japansese factory produces primarily for the local market so size options are limited for big western feet so some of you will miss out but this is just the beginning! the timing however is not ideal as i recently relocated in-house to van's flagship london store on carnaby street, selling exclusively van's product only. as such the chukkas will sadly sit in an essentially dormant shop in east london resigned to local collection & some subliminal/spiritual social-media marketing. hopefully the product drops before xmas & until then stay attuned to pre-order options going live tonight! some of you wont give a fuck, some of you may be scratching your head but just maybe some of you will instead turn heads in some fresh old-world chukkas & the the first (& maybe last??) stand-alone official pillowHeat footwear drop! dont sleep