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Monad x Momotaro Jeans – button boots review by Indigoshrimp


When MOMOTARO teams up with vintage work bootmaker MONAD from Tokyo, you can expect great things. Mike, who you might now as who you might know as indigoshrimp on instagram or from his amazing blog has taken these boots to town and you can read his review here:

Have you ever thought about how our denim and work boots hobbies could really come together?

 

What if, rather than complimenting each other, they become one thing?

Well, I’ve got something very interesting to show you today:

Button boots! Denim button boots!

Tokyo shoe makers Monad and the jeans makers at Momotaro Jeans have come together to create a truly unique collaboration.

Have you ever seen button-up work boots before?

Me neither. Let’s take a look!

 

Overview

Monad is a new work boot brand from the Model Shoes footwear workshop, who have been crafting gentlemen’s shoes for half a century now, representing a new direction for the shoemaker. As part of the launch of Monad, they’ve collaborated with Momotaro Jeans to create a line of denim-infused boots.

Momotaro Jeans, on the other hand, really needs no introduction for regular readers of this blog – suffice to say that Momotaro is the main line of the denim power-house Japan Blue group.

Two styles of boots have been released for this collab campaign; both the Peco’s style farmer boots and the cap-toe button boots come in either black or brown leathers. The pair I’ve purchased is the quarter brogue button boots in brown Chromexcel.

The uppers (top), made of denim and constructed in the style of jeans, is made by Momotaro in Okayama, the artisan denim capital of the world. The rest of the boots are made by Monad in their Tokyo workshop – next door to the famous The Boots Factory, actually.

Modern button boots have their roots in 19th century British ankle boots, and are nowadays rarely encountered. When you do see them, they tend to remain very dressy shoes, and are usually custom made with sleek toes. This particular pair is perhaps the mid-century Americana interpretation…truly, I’ve never seen a mash-up quite like this one.

 

Shape & Fit

Despite being a button boot, the toe shape and the fit of these Monad x Momo boots is very much that of a work boot.

Similar to other Japanese work boots, the toe box is relatively tall and the up-turn is strong.

The toe is wide at E width, but not overly so compared with other work-style boots. The taper from the toe box downward is significant, with the boots narrowing to a D width at the mid-foot. These boots do not flair back out at the heels, remaining approximately a D width at the back.

Given the work-style toe box, breaking into these boots is pretty easy, even if I did size half-down from my Brannock’s size.

Above the level of the ankle, the boots are extremely comfortable. Even if the denim is dense and relatively heavy at 15.7 oz, it remains much more forgiving compared with leather.

The back-stay and toe-box required a few days use to break in, but after the first week these boots have been completely comfortable. No blisters this time!

The top (shaft), being made of fabric, fits much tighter on a button boot compared with similarly tall all-leather boots, allowing a sleeker and more refined look. Such a close fit is not possible with thick leathers of course.

Overall, the shape is streamlined at the top and back, with the toe-box being relatively wide and tall. The fit is true to Brannock’s measurements – I’d recommend going true-to-size (US sizing) if you want to wear thicker socks, or size down half for a sleeker look. If your feet are wider than E, do not size down!

 

Leather & Denim

The brown Chromexcel leather featured on these button boots comes from Horween. You’ll have seen Chromexcel dozens of times on this blog already; the important points are that Chromexcel is a full grain, re-tanned (chrome then veg) work leather with a somewhat variegated, glossy finish and a great pull-up. The fact that this leather has been primarily chrome tanned and is stuffed full of fats means that its water resistance is exceptional.

Chromexcel doesn’t age quite as gracefully as full vegetable tanned leathers of course, and the soft temper does lead to easy scratching and scuffing. It also tends to dull over time, but can be easily revived with some care.

Chromexcel became a popular leather in workwear and denim circles earlier this decade, and nowadays is perhaps the signature leather of Americana fashion. It is enjoying a surge in popularity in East Asia as well, with many Korean and Japanese boot makers utilising Chromexcel in the past few years. Chromexcel is a great work leather, and it makes nice work boots.

We can’t forget the denim, however. This indigo twill fabric is the real deal: It begins as ELS cotton from Zimbabwe. Rope dyed with indigo. Woven on a narrow shuttle loom into a dense 15.7 oz denim, which is then sanforised.

In fact, this is one of the denim usually reserved for Momotaro’s ‘Going to Battle’ line of jeans. The denim should fade nicely as the leather achieves patina.  ?

The inside of the boots are lined with leather and a camouflage herringbone fabric from Momotaro.

 

Construction

These button boots are made in two separate locations in Japan. The top is made by Momotaro’s jeansmakers in Okayama, the rest of the boots being made by Monad out of their Model Shoes workshop in Tokyo.

The top portion is made just like jeans, with the same vintage machinery that Momotaro utilises for their jeans. The thick, tea-coloured thread is neatly sewn, piecing together the different panels and also attaching the rolled leather tape which finishes the edges of the denim.

The denim crafting here is very neat – very much the same process and calibre of work as Momotaro’s regular denim offerings. There’s even a cheeky peach tag!

The details are all there.

Bar-tacked and raised belt loop/pull tab? Check!

Single and double needle stitching? Check!

The finished tops are sent to Tokyo, and the guys at Monad attach them to the lower part of the boots. The double needle, tonal stitch work on the leather is dense and regular. The brogueing on the quarter brogue toe cap is some of the neatest I’ve seen, despite the thick Chromexcel leather used for the cap.

Chromexcel tends to be a tricky leather with a bit of wastage, and my experiences with North American boot makers have been very average in the past decade – many brands tend to click and match Chromexcel poorly.

I’m glad to report there’s no such issue on these boots.

The edges of the welt are expertly rounded and polished. These are work-style boots, yes, but they’re certainly not rough.

The incomplete Goodyear welt is neatly executed too.

The spacing from the edge of the welt is consistent, the stitch length very even.

There’s no weird staining or scratching along the welt.

Overall, both the jeans making and boot making here are excellent. There’s a premium associated with Made in Japan no doubt, but the difference in quality is easily discernible and, once again, the construct of these Japanese boots are fantastic and without significant flaws.

 

Sole Unit & Misc.

The hardware found on these boots are great quality.

After all, no one does buttons and zips quite like the Japanese reproduction & work-wear brands.

The 5 buttons found on each boot are the custom ‘Copper Label’ buttons which are used on Momotaro’s jeans. There’s a peach on every button.

A zippered side has been built into the inward facing side of the boots. The zipper is a high quality, customised metal zip.  More peaches!

A nitrile cork sole and Cat’s Paw heel  combo makes up the outsole.

The Boots Factory are the guys who manufacture brands like Rolling Dub Trio, Brother Bridge, etc. Being a more establish work boot manufactuter, they’ve lent their next door neighbor at Monad some assistance by providing the synthetic sole for this project.

Hopefully, as the Monad brand matures, they’ll have their own customised synthetic soles too.

Old school Cat’s Paw heels make an appearance here.

I quite like this two-washer version with the mid-century era graphics.

All in all, the peripherals utilised on these Monad x Momo button boots are top class indeed!

 

Thoughts

The first thing I must mention is that the visual appeal of these button boots cannot denied!

Out of all my dozens of shoes and boots, this pair has attracted the most comments from my – mostly female – colleagues at work. The ladies had very nice things to say about this pair, whereas my others boots really never caught their attention. Also, photos of these boots have logged the most number of comments and likes out of any item I’ve showcased on Instagram since I started my account last year.

With that in mind, I have to say Monad and Momotaro Jeans have done a great job in terms of concept execution and design. A risky mash-up for sure, but I do think their daring has paid off.

These boots are unusual indeed, and break many of the rules associated with button boots by having a denim top, a work-style toe shape, synthetic soles and a side-zip. If you are a shoe purist, this pair may be too experimental to contemplate…

From a denim and work-wear hobbyist’s perspective, these boots are certainly an unexpected surprise. Work wear fans usually don’t wear button boots, and guys who wear button boots usually have a closet focused on gentlemen’s suiting. In theory work wear and button boots don’t mix – and they never have – but personally I love this combination. These Monad x Momotaro button boots must be the most uncommon boots in my collection, and it is also the most eye catching.

True to work-wear principles, these shoes are comfortable and easy to use. The zippered side negates the need to use a button hook, and makes the process of wearing and removing these boots so much easier. The denim will also age more gracefully compared with the tweeds and other jacket fabrics that are usually found on button boots, and thus complement a work-wear outfit where garments should look more attractive with wear. Finally, synthetic sole components perform better than leather as far as locomotion and safety are concerned.

All things considered, rules have been broken, yes, but I think these boots are better for it.

My personal preference in terms of possible improvements would be the addition of a layer of leather mid-sole and perhaps substituting Chromexcel with Horween’s Essex/Dublin leathers instead. This will make the boots a bit more expensive, however.

At $460 USD via Denimio, this pair of collaboration button boots are fantastic value (on the cheaper end of the scale) as far as Japanese work boots go. I do suspect that the price is very much an introductory offer while the Monad brand is still young. If you’re a fan of Japanese denim and work boots, these button boots would be an great addition to your collection.

I would love to see Monad put out more button boots in different work-wear fabrics in the future. Imagine a 14 oz duck canvas with black horsehide? Anyway, I’m very excited to see what the guys at Monad will do next!

See this pair and the other Monad x Momotaro Jeans collaboration boots at Denimio.