Yuki Matsuda and his team at Meg Company have carved themselves such a distinct niche with Yuketen that it’s impressive, season after season, to see how creative they can be while remaining within that niche. Like Willard Wigan, they’re designing on the head of a pin. Yuketen takes American-made classic shoe shapes and applies unusual materials and combinations that allude to culture and subculture, fashion and antifashion. When the shoes are beautiful, they’re be-yoo-ti-full, and when they’re ugly, they’re kind of beautiful, too.
Fall 2012 sees more examples of exotic skins, as well as standbys like calf, roughout, and shell cordovan. The exotics–like croc, hair-on-hide calf, and reptile leather–may not end up on many shelves but it’s pretty to think they might. The standbys are peerless in quality of build, and their finest work is in shoes that are the just-right blend of design distinction and skilled make.
Some other standouts for fall 2012 were captoe brogue boots on a commando sole, loafers on crepe, and a camo Maine guide that shares fabric panels with Monitaly’s fall ’12 collection. For fans of the classic white Vibram sole, it remains represented if not as strongly as it is from other bootmakers. They’re also using some new Vibram sole models to mix it up. Natural crepe is still likely the most comfortable, but it is an acquired taste for many.
The last few seasons have seen a crest of Americana-influenced men’s clothing, and some would argue that it’s time to start expecting a trough. Yuketen has been navigating the seas of American influence for a long time, and with fresh takes and designs stays on on even keel.