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An Eye For The Craft And The Sole Of A Craftsman: The Top Owens U.S. Launch

It would appear that the moment we were all waiting to happen, since the suits got uncomfortably slim and the sportswear proportions got bizarrely exaggerated, has happened.  Menswear has taken that vain cue from the pages of womenswear and we now live in a world where in the boardroom there may not be just grey and blue suits, but louder colors, florals and prints.  There may not even be a suit in the boardroom.  Hell, there may not even be a boardroom!  Someone may materialize to the conference call in French terry sweats from the privacy of his living room or phone-in while on set in tattered denim, bicep-hugging leather and exorbitantly-priced trainers.  Now while I applaud the shift from predictable to excitable, what has always reigned true is the incarnate beauty of those guys who own their looks as opposed to those who borrow and repurpose someone else's look.  You know, those who see the beauty of the design, be it in the form of a simple enzyme-washed tee or a laser-cut distressed leather moto jacket, and then put their little creative and innate 'stink' on it.

Well in this world of nattily tailored Prince of Wales checks worn with white low-tops and defensive lineman sizing on horse jockey body frames, let's not forget the beauty of the hard-bottom shoe.    What's more, let's also not forget to make them our own!  Similar to how we can place puffed-up oversized sneakers with nods to the 90s with abbreviated trim suitings as well as swaddling hoodies with ankle-puddling jeans, we can surely find a renewed creative space for the historically more traditionally beloved mens shoes with an ardent fervor.  Enter Top Owens.  Launched in 2015, Top Owens is the mens luxury footwear brainchild brand of Owen Jiang, a 20-year footwear industry veteran who's footwear passion was fueled by influences from Italian craftsmanship.  What emerged from Jiang's tenure is a footwear collection that upholds to the highest standards of mens luxury footwear by finding a trifecta balance between craftsmanship, style and fit.  Currently Top Owens has seven flagship stores with six in China and one in Sydney, Australia.  The design studio is based in Milan, Italy where Jiang can stay close to the techniques, artisans and materials that initially inspired him.  

In February of this year, I had the pleasure to be introduced to the Top Owens experience at the brand's exclusive U.S. launch during New York Fashion Week which also showcased its new collaboration with Mykel C. Smith, the creative one-man collective who has an attuned knack for molding and translating clothing, cosmetic, and now footwear, brands.  From the result of Jiang's tireless drive & vision and Smith's seasoned experience in creating energy for brands through promotion and style, Top Owens is now positioning itself to become a rising global footwear powerhouse.  The Collection showcased in February highlighted beautifully tooled, tanned and burnished leathers & suedes on chisel & mock apron-toed  silhouettes in classic & remixed long-wing brogue, double monk, loafer, half-boot and loafer styles.  It was a fitting introduction that gave guests an introductory taste of the skillset and commitment of Jiang together with the electric vibe and influence of Smith.  

What stuck out and impressed me about Top Owens was its poise as a well-executed collection of mens footwear that has a cross-sectional appeal to men seeking classics, those seeking styles more fashion-driven and those seeking a clever combination of both.  Such a welcomed respite in the land of oversized soles where sometimes you want to remind yourself of the tactile joy of slipping your foot into a leather-lined insole to experience details that are tooled rather than inflated and ones that feature a hand-sewn rather than an air-bubbled sole.  For more information on Top Owens and where to purchase the footwear, please visit their website here and keep up with how the brand is growing on their instagram here.

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