About a decade and a half ago, when Viberg’s popularity began to bubble up in Japan, Brett Viberg and Nepenthes visionary Keizo Shimizu knocked their boot-shoe heads together and out popped the 145: a simple but wonderfully patterned shoe that is actually a derby and definitely not an oxford. (Josh went deep on one of our favorite footwear nomenclature misdirects right here.)
In mid-2020, amidst Covid considerations and a turn towards a new direction for the now-92-year-old Canadian manufacturer, the 145 was declared to be shelved indefinitely—which only made its return in 2022 all the more wonderful. Since then a few other 145 makeups have trickled out, with each instance banging a bit of a gong for the funky shoe’s cultish fanbase.
Now Viberg’s rewinding all the way back to those early Japanese glory days, with a trio of Horween Chromexcel 145s all built with stitchdown construction on Viberg’s deliciously bulky 110 last (which was originally designed for that nascent far-east market), structured toeboxes that max out said bulk, and Vibram 2021 mega-chonker cavity wedges.
Every so often you’ll see a decade-plus-old pair pop up on the secondary market that looks a lot like these shoes—down to the natural midsole edge you see on the Natural and Black CXL models here—which turns out to be quite an appealing combo with Viberg’s newer, much higher stitch-per-inch stitchdown construction.
The top patina-potential pair of the bunch gets a sand 2021 sole and keeps the midsole natural as well—these things are going to move.
While I honestly don’t wear a ton of black shoes, these are without question my personal favorites of this bunch—the sliver of natural midsole and brass eyelets cut the black perfectly.
Brown on brown on brown is the story here, and it’s a good tale indeed.
An Important Note on 110 Last Sizing
Amongst all of Viberg’s lasts, the 110 is a big boy indeed. Technically it’s an EEE last, which in my experience plays out in terms of three-dimensional volume, not just width. It’s most certainly big—and therefore not truly recommended for B- or probably most C-width feet—but once laced up with some nice thick-ish socks, can fit a variety of feet decently well, and can be accommodating to larger width feet in a way that not all Viberg lasts are.
I’m an 11D+ Brannock with a high instep, and I personally size the 110 last at .5 down from Brannock and quite like it; I can’t imagine another size would work. For me on the 145 pattern it doesn’t quite feel like an EEE width shoe, whereas my 110-last Scout boots sure do feel that way—for the most part every last will fit slightly differently when used for different patterns. To that end, it’s worth noting that my 110-last 145 Oxfords this advice is based on have an unstructured toe (and a toe caps, for that matter), while these have a structured toe. Sizing! What fun. But hopefully this can be helpful for you.