The laid-back low-top sneaker made famous by Chuck Taylor has long been a favorite for spring and summer. With its first shoe collection, The Hill-Side is giving the American classic a Japanese twist. The Brooklyn brand, founded as a scarf, handkerchief, and necktie company in 2009, made its name with playful, vintage-inspired fabrics. The new low-tops put those fabrics on men's feet.
From a design standpoint, the shoes don't deviate much from the iconic Chuck Taylor silhouette except that they hit lower on the anklebone, making them easy to wear without socks. "Wearing them around barefoot you feel really kind of light," says Emil Corsillo, who founded the brand in 2009 with his brother, Sandy, and owns the popular store and online outlet Hickoree's. "When I look at them, I want it to be warm out."
In order to create the shoes, Hill-Side partnered with a 140-year-old historic factory in Kyushu, Japan that formerly made "tabi boots," traditional split-toe work shoes. Each pair is handmade and then baked at a high temperature, to fuse the rubber sole and toe cap to the fabric upper of the shoe. The shoes are available in six fabrics, all of which are sourced from textile mills run by expert denim weavers in Japan's Okayama region. Corsillo says they're more vibrant and high quality than what's available stateside.
"These Japanese mills are some of the only places in the world where you can get really specific things made, like natural indigo-dyed hemp or cotton denim," he says, "woven on an antique shuttle loom from beautifully irregular, super high-quality yarns."
Denim-inspired fabrics have been popular since the brand's inception, but the Corsillos aren't resting on their laurels. The low-tops are also available in chunky camo, beige linen zigzag, fiery red-orange floral, and an army green chino with black leather toe caps. [$175; hickorees.com]