Yuki Matsuda is an absolute gem of a man. If there’s someone more relentlessly excited to design and make and just talk shoes after more than three decades in the biz than Yuketen’s founder, I haven’t met them (but would definitely like to; DM me plz).

It’s no stretch to say that Yuketen is eternally in contention for the Most Interesting Footwear Brand Going Award. Over the decades, Yuki has explored a remarkable range of styles (from monkey boots, to mules, to his Goodyear welted “Land Jordan” sneakers), materials (printed Italian suede…that beaver fur!), and constructions. But the core of the brand is its relentlessly distinctive true moccasin construction handsewn boots and shoes, including Yuki’s personal all-time favorite Maine Guide DB boot.

After literal years of trying, we finally pinned Yuki down to chat about the strokes of luck that got Yuketen started over 30 years ago, his singular design approach and the massive vintage-freak influence that plays into it, and how he seeks out the manufacturing partners who care about shoes the same way he does—with an insane amount of passion that often cuts directly against any sort of traditional business sensibility. Bless them all.

Oh also we obviously cover his vintage Datsun and get overly excited about backpacks that used to be made in Montana in the 90s. Yuki!!

Give the man a listen below:

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This episode was sponsored by Division Road, whose new Virginia boot-heaven compound on 45 acres of farmland officially opens August 25th

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