Picture a well-worn vintage pair of engineer boots.

In your mind’s eye, they’re likely rough and rugged; over their decades of use, the leather has dried out and cracked a bit, and they’ve lost much of their luster. But underneath that timeworn surface, you can still detect a spark of elegance from when they were first built.

That’s the spark that Attractions strives to recreate in all of their products.attractions lot 444 detail
The Japanese brand started out quite small, but over time has grown to feature several sub-brands, including WearMasters (shirts, pants and other garments), Attractions Eyewear (sunglasses, believe it or not),  and, most relevant to our interests here, their Biltbuck line of leather jackets, jewelry, and…boots!  Very impressive boots which are slowly but surely expanding their presence in the United States, including some that just landed on the shelves of our friends at Standard & Strange.

attractions tomonari nishizaki

Tomonari Nishizaki

The Man Behind Attractions: Tomonari Nishizaki

As a young man in the early 2000s, Tomonari Nishizaki cruised Tokyo on a vintage Triumph motorcycle on an obsessive quest for a rockabilly lifestyle. In Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood, Tomonari became part of a small but vibrant subculture that worshipped the rockabilly looks and sounds that originated in American youth culture between the 1930s and 1950s. Pompadours, vintage acetate sunglasses, and double rider leather jackets were the uniform while listening to Elvis contemporaries (plus modern Japanese rockabilly music—check out the bands below to get a taste).

In 2009, Tomonari opened a store in Shimokitazawa—a Tokyo neighborhood not far from Harajuku, packed with funky shops and cafés—called EXPLOSION From OUTER SPACE (honestly one of the great shop names in history), where he sold vintage rockabilly clothing and accessories plus CDs and vinyl. EFOS also hosted and promoted countless concerts and vinyl listening parties for modern and vintage rockabilly music. The store’s old blog still remains online, and offers an intriguing glimpse of Japanese rockabilly culture in the late 2000s-early 2010s.

attractions tomonari nishizaki

Before, during, and after his time running his vintage shop, Tomonari’s other venture was Attractions. The brand Tomonari created in 2006 when he was only 23 started out with clothing and accessories that weren’t exactly “vintage-inspired,” but more “vintage-admiring”—pieces that certainly took guidance from classic designs, but remained simultaneously rooted in a modern aesthetic. 

“Obsession with expression” and “passion for products” persist as Tomonari’s other driving principles for Attractions. For him, fashion is inseparable from 1950s-style counterculture, and it’s crucial to look the part. And while Tomonari isn’t a maker himself, his honed eye for quality has helped him seek a patient approach to unearthing the proper materials and Japan craftspeople to create Attractions products. 

attractions ropers

Long before Attractions organized all of their leather offerings under the Biltbuck name, the brand’s first pair of boots were quite the head-turners. In 2012, Attractions unveiled a short roper boot with D-ring pulls, an buckled instep strap, and a diamond-embossed Horween Chromexcel.

Which era’s vintage engineer boots was this design inspired by? None! The Lot.300 Roper was based directly off of a pair of children’s boots from the mid-20th century, which Tomonari disassembled himself to get the pattern right. Attractions sales manager Wataru Kato highlighted the Roper to us as a style “that sharply expresses the backbone of Attractions Co.”

“It’s a very wild model, but anyone who wants to feel the world of modern classics should give it a try.” 

Biltbuck Boots: Models To Know

While the Lot.300 might be the brand’s creative backbone, most Attractions lovers know the brand’s calling card is their fantastic, more down-the-line Goodyear-welted engineer boots, which originally debuted in 2014. There are a few variants, but the arguable flagship of the bunch would be the Lot.444. 

attractions lot 444

Lot.444 (above and just below) more or less fulfills the platonic ideal of engineer boots built to an 11-inch height, with all the right lines and curves. Various leathers are available in Lot.444 at different times, but the standard model is made with a base Maryam crust horsebutt that’s dyed and finished in Japan. The leather ages magnificently over time, giving way to a classic teacore look, and the musclebound sculpted logger heel stands in proud contrast to Japanese engineers whose heels offer a softer touch.

Other standard componentry includes include nickel-plated buckles, oak tanned midsoles, and Biltrite neoprene half-soles and heels (though Attractions told us they’ll be switching over to a Biltbuck-branded sole as of this year). 

attractions lot 444 profile

Lot.444 is made with a 270-degree welt on Attractions’ A010 Specialty last, a 50s-style affair with a broad toe and slight boomerang shape that snugs up against the heel and ankle. It’s a bit of a narrower last, one with a glovelike fit that won’t be friendly to folks with EE or wider feet. Typical advice for the Specialty last is to go a half size down from Brannock measurements, or maybe try true to size for a high-volume fit.

attractions lot 269

Lot.269 (above) looks a bit similar at first glance to Lot.444, but there are some key differences. In place of horsehide is a combo-tanned semi-aniline steerhide treated with a wax finish for a high shine in Japanese high-end leather capital Himeji. Lot.269 is built on Attractions’ Freeman last, which also sports a slanted shape much like the Specialty last, and fits snugly at the toe and heel. Unlike the Specialty, the Freeman last’s toe is a bit flatter and more elongated, meant to imbue the boot with a dressier look. It’s also a bit more accommodating, certainly thanks to a slightly roomier instep.

attractions lot 603 pioneer

Then there’s Lot.603 (above), nicknamed the Pioneer: an engineer designed to imitate the look of very early 1930’s motorcycle boots. Made with horsebutt leather uppers from esteemed Italian tannery Guidi, it features an oil finish that gives the leather just the right luster.

The Pioneer’s design is noticeably different from the other Biltbuck engineers. The lack of an external heel counter panel provides a uniquely primordial-engineer look, the perfect example of how simple patterning can actually stand out more, leaving the eye seeking something that it expects, but can’t find. They’re are made on the eponymous Pioneer last, which is perhaps the most generous engineer last offered by Attractions and the most suitable for wider feet. Like the Freeman last, the Pioneer has a higher instep and a flat, dressy toe shape.

Now Available At Standard & Strange

Finding Attractions engineers Stateside can be a bit tricky, as only a couple retailers such as Brogue and Snake Oil Provisions have been stocking their wares. However, our bootpeople over at Standard & Strange let us know that they’re just beginning to carry their own Attractions merch, right about…now.

Attractions Engineer Lot.444—Crust Horsebutt

Attractions Engineer Lot.444—Crust Horsebutt

To kick things off, S&S will be carrying an exclusive Lot.444 engineer made with crust—aka un-dyed, patina-hungry—horsebutt with a Vibram 705 half-sole and Attractions’ brawny logger heel. 

Attractions Engineer Lot.603 Pioneer—Black Guidi Horsebutt

Attractions Engineer Lot.603 Pioneer—Black Guidi Horsebutt

S&S will also be offering a full run of custom Pioneer engineers, whose minimalistic throwback patterning is the perfect match for a veg-tan black horsebutt from Italian super-tannery Guidi. These things are extremely black right down to the outsole stitching thread, with the only exception being the yellow Vibram logo on the 705 v-tread half-sole.

All signs point to this being just the beginning for S&S x Attractions collabs—expect to see some plenty more models later this year and into 2024.

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