The masters of garb continue to execute every collab placed at their feet with finesse.
The cross-pollination of sartorial sensibility between Japan and the USA regularly provides juicy fruit. Their influences have long tickled popular modes of dress such as Outdoor style, Streetwear and the irkly named style of the Ivy League. Amongst a multitude of brands, pieces and moments that exemplify the harmony, the story of Engineered Garments stands out.
As a young adult born and raised in Japan, Daiki Suzuki became an Americana clothing fanatic. The perking of his taste was spurred by seminal publications POPEYE and the Made in U.S.A. catalogue. He crossed paths with his partner in cloth Keizo Shimizu whilst working at Keizo’s first store ‘Redwood’. Following this the two would continue to support each other in their pursuit of top-quality all-American garments. Before building his own brand Suzuki acted as a buyer for Shimizu’s next venture Nepenthes, sourcing stock for the shop from the East Coast of the US from Army Surplus stores and exciting small brands hailing out of NYC.
Following a few years soaking in the culture in the land of the free Daiki then joined Keizo in turning his talents to designing and thus Engineered Garments was born. The EG approach to making is to strip down classic designs and rebuild them with Suzuki’s vision and concept of how the garment should be engineered. The detailed construction of EG pieces still occurs in New York’s garment district to this day, helping to preserve the virtues that inspired both designers in the very beginning.
As a modern classic brand it’s no surprise that EG have partaken in a healthy slice of collaboration in their lifetime, including a recent collection with Palace. But seeing as today is of course Shoesday, we shall be examining their (mostly) midas touch for treds.
EG X Dr. Martens
They’re a bit weird aren’t they. But the good kind of weird. Like dipping a chip in a milkshake or Aphex Twin or Pan’s Labrinth.
A common theme of the design thinking applied to EG’s collaborative shoes seems to be to push the established boundaries of a shoe, but not quite beyond recognition or reason. They are experts at adding a flicker of flair whilst preserving the preexisting character of a silhouette which in truth is what footwear collaborations are all about.
Some may posit they are over-engineered, but each time their play is executed with such sophistication that a train of thought that dull is kindly reserved for those who share a significant amount of brain matter with the type of consumer known as a basic b*tch.
EG x Vans Vault
We should all be partial to a great mix and blend, whether that’s at the hands of a DJ, a barman or in this case a shoemaker. Commonly seen in EG’s footwear collaborations are the use of two materials interwoven in an asymmetrical manner. For their Vans Vault collaborations, the inspiration for this is said to have come from “the mismatched look of young skaters who swapped shoes with their friends for an effortless cool.”
Though this statement reads with a strong sense of hyperbole, the expert selection of materials ensure that the shoes look suave no matter whether you’re looking at the left or right.
EG X Hoka One One
Alongside the asymmetry and adjusted lacing systems, there is one other common feature in Daiki’s shoe designs, animal-inspired materials.
Never has this been more prevalent than on the collection of Bondi Ls released in 2021 which featured leopard print, snakeskin and cowhair. Before this collab the pairing of animal prints and running shoes evoked mental images of balding sneaker nerds or charva lasses who wear so much make up that their faces are a different colour to their necks. Thankfully EG’s rendition of what they called ‘formal running shoes’ dispelled all of those connotations and replaced them with an exploration of design at the highest levels of self expression and comfort.
Their partnership with Hoka also helped to drum up considerable attention towards the Tor Ultra Low shape which they experimented with in 2018. The Bondi B has also been subject to an EG makeover including a colourway only fit for an actual clown. Daiki previously stated “EG’s design philosophy is to either go all-out crazy or stay simple and solid,” I think it’s pretty clear which category they fit into.
His personal love of running helped him see the value in Hoka. He expressed his excitement in their partnership in the same GQ interview saying “Trail running shoes and road shoes, hiking shoes and recovery shoes—there are so many revolutionary designs that I want to work with.”
Engineered Garments x Suicoke happened in a big way. Tie Dyed uppers on Suicoke’s standard “KAW-CAB” model look so damn fly. Perhaps even my pick of the bunch? Is it sacrilege to bestow that upon a mere slider?
Engineered Garments have also collaborated with New Balance on a pair of 990s which were of course asymmetrical featuring animal-inspired materials. Smart and understated the shoes hold up well.
Four colourways of a Daiki-designed Converse One-Star were made in 2017. Across the two shoes there were four variations of the logo which features on each side of the shoe. The different logos were taken from the different eras of the shoe’s considerable history.
Proper Mag declined to comment on anything to do with Adidas Ultra Boost given it is the year 2022.
Enigneered Garments’ shoes are the products of an artistic mind that uses and bends limitations to create something new using something old. By identifying key cornerstones for customisation, Daiki manages lace the shoes he designs with his identity whilst ensuring they are stylish and uncomplicated. The go crazy or go solid philosophy has helped engineer a diverse range of shoes and we can only hope to see more of them in the future.