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Dr Chong

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Dr Chong last won the day on March 16 2017

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About Dr Chong

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  1. Dress shoes

    Apprenticed under a Burakamin leather craftsman when I worked for Rolls Royce designing jet engines with Kawasaki heavy industries in Japan during my younger days. When I wasn't proofing jet planes in the wind tunnel. Spent all my off days in the tannery working twelve hour shifts. The grand master was in his eighties at that time. He was especially enamoured by my Parisian experience as a shoe artist - which he couldn't quite understand no matter how I tried to impress him. One day he took out an ultra low grade parchment (underbelly of calf). Then he said to me wryly like an old fox, do you want to see magic? With a few studied strokes - he transformed it into premium shoulder grade leather - so good that if one used it as raw material to construct a shoe, it could probably past off easily as 30 year old John Lobbs to even the most discerning shoe cognoscenti's. The gentleman's name was Hiroshi Kondoh - he never held back so much as even once when it came to me and I learnt everything there is to know about the black arts of train oil dyeing with botanicals. I have fond memories of the Burakamin during my working period in Japan. Even today whenever I go to Japan I take time to pass on my skills to the leather craftsmen - life is all about continuous learning and sharing. It's like a wheel.
  2. Dress shoes

    Nice bathroom slippers.
  3. Dress shoes

    You know there was once a man who was walking all by himself on a country road. Suddenly he came across a lump of brown stuff. He picked it up and took a whiff of it and said, it smells like shit. Thereafter he wiped some of it over his face like sunblock. Only express, it feels like shit. Then he took a bite of it and shortly thereafter said to himself, mmmmmh it even taste like shit. Then as if seized by a rare moment of epiphany - the man smiled supremely and said to himself with a sigh of relief, lucky I didn't step on it. Yes. I am sure somewhere. If you search hard enough. There's a sardonic moral to this story.
  4. Dress shoes

    Not stupid. Very perceptive I might add. Simply bc whale oil based dyes are virtually unheard of outside Japan. As most continental shoe artist use exclusively alcohol based dyes. Hence they never need to heat up their raw material, colour adjust, viscosity true before application and but the downside is this requires them to use very harsh chemicals such as turpentine or acetone to prep their shoes before painting. In the case of whale or train oil - since the base is triglycerides, the botanicals are simply to supply the tone. But main difference is prior to application it needs to be preheated to correct for optimal brushing viscosity. But the benefit is no harsh chemicals need to be used for prepping the shoe as the leather is burnished by hot oil dyes and secondly the permeability and penetration is three times better than alcohol dyes - that is why the latter frequently requires retouching, while the former is good to go forever. In summary when train oil dyes are used - the shoes is already adequately moisturised. There is really no need to go through the cumbersome ritual of nourishing the shoe before polish or cream application. This windbag explanation is jugular. As it feeds directly into the answer to your original question - since the shoe is already infused with oil based dyes, it is hardly a dead thing - even now its mellowing, maturing or getting fruitier. That's why the tone of the shoe needs such a long period to come to its own. The benefits of using train oil based dyes is it requires minimal skills to keep your shoes looking top drawer. In fact zero. As unlike alcohol based dyes where it's not always possible to lock in permanently the final appearance with just dyes alone (maybe 70% if one is at the top of the game, even then wear and tear is a perennial issue with alcohol based dyes). Hence the need for cremes or polish to create the final nuanced effect. In the case of train based dyes since both the moisturising and final effect can be set permanently to a quotient of 95%. Hence one could just as well use Kiwi brand neutral wax to keep it looking good forever. In fact many of my regular Japanese clientele only use mink oil on shoes treated in this manner and they really don't want to bother with twenty tubes of coloured cremes and waxes as my shoes are dressed to take plenty of abuse. Japan is a funny country when it comes to shoes. They actually wash their shoes with soap and water before polishing. Believe it or not. The downside of train oil based dyes is exorbitant cost, the sheer amount of time it takes to prepare the final solution from scratch (3 hours of stirring the pot to get the viscosity to VX agent consistency and countless color correction and it stinks). To exacerbate matters. The speed at which one is required to work demands very aggressive and bold strokes with the heart attack inducing pressure of zero margin for error. No fun. As there is no means to correct unlike alcohol based dyes. I would never do it if I was just dressing one pair. Never! Too bloody stressful. In this case the client (pic showed) was just incredibly lucky as I happen to be batch dressing four other pairs of similar dark toned shoes for my regular batman CEO Japanese clientele.
  5. The suiting thread

    Jeremy could you take off one inch from the length of the bush jacket. Thanks.
  6. Accessories

    You need three things. The first is heavy starch, almidon fuerte. It comes in a spray can. A lint free white cotton napkin. And a iron. Spray starch directly on the rim of the hat. Spray water on napkin. Leave both to settle. Set iron to cotton high. Place wetted side of napkin over one section of brim of hat and use only the heel of the iron by pressing down. Do not run the iron. Or your hat will look strange. Just press it down like a stamping tool. Repeat process till you complete the entire circumference of the hat. After that let it stand by placing it on the iron with the brim at ninety degrees to cool. A real superfino is a super duper costly affair. Unless you happen to circulate around cattle barons and planters in S.America begging for land or mining concessions - investing in one is a lousy proposition. Wearing a superfino in Asia is akin to driving a Morgan or Bristol - no one would even know the difference between an Ecadorian which they are content to mislabel as a Panama. Neither would they care or know whether it's constructed out of real Mipi straw harvested only between the months of July and June and woven only in the early morning and in the evening when it's coolest in Montecristi or made out of recycled bleached paper. Unless of course you happen to be mixing with planters who attend tea garden luncheons in creme linen suits, spectator shoes and of course to complete the assemble a montecristi - but I digress. Undersrand this. Only the fine straw variety can be rolled and expected to come to shape with minimal hand manipulation - that video misleads. Even then. They would ALL benefit from the treatment I recommended from time to time as humidity and temp plays a role in keeping form. As for the paper variety. They're good to go as well. I hope this helps.
  7. Dress shoes

    I tend to believe most consumers tend to put too much trust on the pedigree and lineage of shoemakers - like I said, I have even come across Weston's that use this type of processed leather. I don't blame these shoemakers per se - as the allure of the profit motive is certainly irresistible. From a manufacturing standpoint, it's certainly a very powerful and persuasive business case to apply pink gunk. Especially when you consider most consumers are clueless about the politics of tanning and leather processing - having said that if you want stay away from accelerate tanning leather shoes. Then a good rule of thumb that I always use is, stay away from anything that looks shiny or even burnished. Where possible you should smell test the shoe - a decent tanned leather should only have an el naturale aroma, nothing approaching the chemical - another reliable guide is only buy fawn or light colors and stay well clear from oxblood, burgundy or dark brown - as shoemakers tend to treat their darker tones with this process. What most of my clients do is usually purchase only very light colored shoes - at times even au liat and color them darker shades to avoid this problem - if you don't want to do this. Then plumb for shoes with a natural finish as opposed to a bling finish - most high end shoemakers believe it or not actually sell their shoes raw. Especially in France and Italy. That means it comes with minimal polish treatment and believe it or not, they actually expect you to burnish it yourself. But I don't believe this marketing strategy will ever take off in Malaysia. As to be perfectly frank - the average Malaysian consumer is quite happy to be blissfully ignorant about what sort of leather it takes to construct a decent shoe. Most Malaysians just pop down to P.Lal and they think if they splurge out 1.5K on a shoe, they get a good shoe. But the reality is very different - as for most of the sartorially splendid French and Italians, they would never ever do that, because they seem to be quite product educated - most rather buy a raw shoe, get it leather treated and patine by a shoe dresser of their choice and that's really how most of them have been brought up to regard shoes. It's really a cultural thingy. One caveat - don't be price and brand fixated. As I said, I've even seen this sort of treatment on Weston's. I mean you could just as well get a pair of loake's 1880 maybe, natural fawn and leather treat it yourself and get a top drawer product that can well last a life time - this is not about product prestige or pedigree or even how much you are prepared to spend - it's really ultimately about the art of how to be a discerning shoe buyer who has insights about what it takes to construct a shoe that can last you a lifetime.
  8. Dress shoes

    Thinking of heading to P.Lal before Christmas to see if they sell any solutions for this problem. You are unlikely to find an off the shelf solution. As the problem is the entire grain is coated with a pink emulsifier at a substrate level - this is very common these days - to save on expensive dyes. The leather is definitely not vat tanned - that means penetration of dye is merely superficial and not thru and thru - instead it's machined tan utilizing a row of spray gun to apply the dyes as the leather proceeds on a conveyor belt. This is a cost cutting measure that is common to most entry classed shoes though I have seen this even in some shoes < 3K - it doesn't mean the leather per se is inferior. Neither does it suggest it's corrected grain either. It's just a cost saving manufacturing process to ensure grain consistency on the cheap. Hence if you look very carefully at the collar lining of the shoe, you will find the same pink gunk on ALL high wear and tear zones. The problem is this gunk is covering the whole shoe, it's like an undercoat - a matt emulsion paint to allow the dyes to adhere to the leather via a spray gun - that facilitates accelerated tanning, but it also means, whatever expensive creams and conditioners you subsequently apply to the shoe is unlikely to penetrate and nourish the leather either - if you don't want this problem. The long term solution is to remove all the pink gunk by vigorously rubbing the entire shoe with acetone till you reveal it's elemental leather tone, just like prepping a car for a new spray job by stripping it right down to bare steel and redyeing the leather again in the traditional and expensive way. Only my recommendation would be to use hot dyeing (boil the dye to 95 degrees census before application with a brush, be prepared to spend a lot of money on dyes as since it's virgin leather - it's likely to soak it all up - three applications with drying intervals at ambient every 48 hours. The last application should be laced with 20% isopropyl alcohol and a natural stabilizer of Sodium Borate at doses of 3 Grammes for every 10 ml. Followed by conditioner and shoe polish. There is no other solution. I have seen this many many times. Even on shoes that cost an arm and a leg. This is my No.1 customer complaint.
  9. The suiting thread

    I am still in the plantation. Have not been able to get a ride back. We need to cancel the meet up this evening. Will arrange meet up once I can get a new ride on the next chopper. I apologize for the inconvenience.
  10. The Denim (contrast) Thread

    Let's all give him some positive encouragement guys....you know when I first started dressing shoes, I literally F****ed up on my first account. When my master sheepishly showed the massacred shoes to the client, who I gathered latter was a very rich and influential man with a sardonic sense of humor ...he commended me, 'it was so unique that he wanted three more pairs exactly the same.' They saved my ass. My point is we all have to start somewhere...being a gentleman is not just about being dapper, if that were the case any riff raff could just as well put on a bespoke suit and become a gentleman...it's really about one's elegance of character....I think your jeans are beautiful Jeremy...then again what do I know?
  11. The Denim (contrast) Thread

    I am not so concerned abt the fc. I am sure you have a strategy....a game plan....and end point like X marks the spot. You do have one don't you?
  12. The Denim (contrast) Thread

    This all looks very serious.
  13. The Denim (contrast) Thread

    You know in Japan. They don't do this. The reasons are obvious. Firstly, nothing can be gleaned from a small square piece of jeans. So what they do is usually take pics of the front and back of jeans - 6 months, 1 year etc. and since some Japanese do prefer US jeans bc they fade differently and the weave is less coarse. These jean makers can actually show pics as well of how comparatively Japanese Jeans acquire patine from US jeans. From my personal observation, though I am strictly not a jeans man - the second hand market seems to be the happening scene in Japan, their attitude towards jeans is a bit like patin shoes. Many hip Japanese much prefer to buy second hand leather and jeans. In fact I was told the second hand market commands a premium, I hope this insight helps.
  14. The Denim (contrast) Thread

    Take my advice. Do ONE thing. Once it's stable and humming well even when you r not there...then and ONLY then start another....take your time with my bush jackets. No point lah to start ten things all at one go especially when the linchpin is just you. No point lah try to run a makeshift goldmine, ivory trading house, planting, building illegal bridges to charge users toll, forging alliances with tribal chieftains and warlords to syndicate everything from water to illegal mining - I used to know someone who I know very well.....very well....so well that I see him everyday....it went no where. Take my advice. Most ppl don't have the balls to stick their necks out to call a spade a spade...but always remember planters have immunity. Small steps....one at a time..this is wisdom.
  15. Dress shoes

    We must get organized. There is an app, it's called meetup Jeremy. We can all meet a fellowship meaningfully. Ideas will be imported and exported. Many will come resplendent, that is the only to take this to a new level - all we are really doing is sitting around a fire like primitive ppl and studying vast shadows on the walls - but if can all come together for a meal..coffee..a bottle of cellared wine...many things can happen....perhaps you should consider that, the sartorial brotherhood. Of course it will ONLY be open to gentlemen,after all women r in their own floating world....I am busy, but if you take the trouble to set up such a meetup site, where we can all commune will human beings....it's will not only be a new dimension...but I believe we can all also share views, especially your philsopohy Jeremy...do consider.