Yeah it’s been a hot minute since my last post. So here’s a quick update on some things that have happened since my last one!
One of my new hobbies that I’ve picked up is… Cryptocurrency! Cue moans and groans because it seems like everyone is talking about it and getting involved in it.
Without spending too much time typing up all about it, I just want to focus on sharing one thing that I’ve been doing in the crypto space…
I’ve been getting into collecting some NFT’s on the Cronos network. Here’s some of my NFT’s from Mad Meerkat Burrow 😀
Now why would I want these? Aren’t they just really expensive jpeg’s?
And the answer to that is sort of but not really – these NFT’s are represented as tokens on the network, and I can stake them on the Mad Meerkat Finance website to generate more returns, so in a way, they are actually generating some passive income for me at the moment.
They also can resell for much higher value later down the track.
Anyway, that’s it for a short update – I might be back for some more personal life updates.
My last entry on my personal blog was on December 5, 2019 when I had just received my newest pair of Edward Green boots and met Masaichi at the Gaziano & Girling trunk show. Since then, I’ve been quite silent in the social media space – a lot of things have happened since then.
This will be a catch up blog post on 9 months worth of content in my life – it’s like a drama but no one is really watching except maybe my mum and if you read to the end, I guess you too.
Days of Bliss
So I guess we start where I left off on my last blog post. A few weeks after getting those boots, I attended a friend’s wedding – it was a fun wedding: super cute, they made their own vows that had Pokemon nerdy references in it, and it was outdoors. Well done, Kevin and Bernice. At that wedding, I reconnected with a girl who I grew up with and we hit it off – met up more after the wedding, had dinners together, kissed, became a couple. Fairy tale kinda beginnings.
I thought I had found “the one” again. I really tried my best for that relationship.
I was in Melbourne for Christmas and the New Year with my family and we thoroughly enjoyed the company of James Seaford and his family. I’ll always remember and cherish this memory. I feel like they are an extension of my family and James is not just my business partner in Thomas George Collection but a true brother. It’s going to be a joy watching their children grow up!
The Ides of March
So 2020 started out as the year where I had my shit together, until that shit hit the fan and the world pretty much ended.
March came, she broke up with me, Covid-19 lockdowns happened and I went silent over social media after that. You can see from my Instagram I haven’t posted since. I just had to let time, solitude and reflection heal things and fix me up again. I’m okay now by the way.
Thank you to all my friends and family who were there to comfort me and provide a listening ear. There’s a lot more I can say to unpack what I think about what happened, but that’s for another day.
So while lockdown was in effect, I was in fresh depressed mode, and we had to work from home – I knew that some habits had to change for me to stay sane.
So I guess it was a combination of realising that sitting all day at home with minimal venturing outside was going to get me fat plus a nagging thought that maybe I got dumped because I wasn’t physically hot enough motivated me to pick up an exercise routine during the lockdown.
At the start I was doing 5 days of exercise with 2 rest days: Each day doing 5 sets of 10 bicep curls, 20 pushups, 20 squats, 30 second as fast as possible cycling, some elastic stretchy things and active hangs on the chin up bar. Some One-Punch Man vibes though maybe not quite as intense as 100 per day.
Eventually I eased off and now only do 3 days per week with rest days in between. At least I still have a routine that I didn’t have before Covid lockdowns happened. I can happily say I can do 10+ chin-ups/pull-ups (before couldn’t even get past 2) and 40+ push-ups now! Progress feels good especially when comparing in hindsight.
Although I don’t personally notice it, some friends have asked if I had lost weight. I guess that’s a good sign.
Ever since I was a young child and all through my teenage years and early twenties, gaming had always been one of my escapes from reality. Picking up Destiny 2 again during Covid connected me with new online friends, old ones and a high school friend who I hadn’t spoken to in years. Being able to chat to friends online, work towards progress in my Destiny 2 account and destroy people in PvP have helped keep me sane.
I also recently picked up Maplestory again and that grind also kept me busy when not working or shining shoes.
More recently, a friend I caught up with heard about what I was going through (not much but gaming and wfh in lockdown) and reached out to me about lending him a hand on a programming project that he had in mind. I can’t say what it is specifically, but he gave me an opportunity to use my programming skills to help him with the project and that kind of sparked other interests I’m now researching more into.
During the project I had to clean up my workflow on my MacBook so I reinstalled the operating system and customised my terminal to become conducive to productive work. I now use Tmux in Kitty terminal, Z-shell instead of Bash and NVIM for all text editing.
The advantage of this is longer battery life because of the lack of GUI apps and hacker vibes because of the lack of GUI apps. The advantage of this is also the lack of GUI apps – did I mention that already? (I run Discord on my Mac through the Terminal).
I’m also looking into using my Raspberry Pi and building some electronics projects. Today, I’ve just ordered some jumper wires, breadboards, sensors and an analogue-to-digital chip – can’t wait to tinker with them. I have no idea what I’m going to make yet, but it will be a good educational experience.
Somewhere down the line, I hope to also pick up iOS programming again, learn 3D game programming in C++ on Unreal Engine and further my skills as a computer geek. I was watching some guy on YouTube make a computer out of a microprocessor, coding it with 1’s and 0’s with resistors and jumper wires, and it was some really fascinating stuff – super educational on how computers work, but I don’t think I’ll be getting into that though.
Finally, my interest in shoes did wane a little bit. I hadn’t shined my shoes in a long time, I had one client for shoe shining since March and I’ve been mainly barefoot at home each day. However, it’s really coming back and I’m getting excited about a few new things happening soon!
My friend and fellow shoe nerd Andrew Gong is launching his own shoe brand that will offer handwelted shoes for ~$750 AUD. I’ve seen his samples and they look really promising!
Thomas George Collection is also planning some exciting new things for 2021 and the latter quarter of this year. That’s also got my excitement levels back up and I’m looking forward to a successful year ahead! I can’t share too much but stay tuned.
The new workspace for Sydney Science College where I work now is almost complete and I can’t wait to get some good sunlight, green plants and wood aesthetic in my working life.
You can also check out the Instagram page @sydneysciencecollege to stay up to date with what’s happening.
Onwards To New Things
Every year there’s always something to learn. The life lessons I’ve been dealt this year have both humbled me, changed me and made me into someone better than before.
As a Christian, the events of my life in the last couple years including 2020 have challenged my faith – I’ve gone astray a few times, done things that any church going boy would get shunned for doing, and not gone to church as regularly as I would have liked – but some verses come in mind:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
So while it sucks that shit happens, I thank God for it as I know myself better now than before, I’ve grown in understanding my own faith, and as much as I suck at following a typical church boy life – it’s assuring to know that Jesus came to heal the sick and save the lost, not for those who think they’re already top shit.
The Dappertude show kicked off on 26 October at the Jackalberry (Hyatt Regency) in Sydney. The purpose of the day was to educate, inspire and network like minded men together and to see what is out there in the Australian men’s fashion world.
Big hats off to Jackalberry for providing the venue and Johnny Li for organising the event. I’m looking forward to the next one in Melbourne already!
Jeff Lack was the host of the seminar and he talked about many tips about styling and interviewed many of the keynote speakers for the day. He’s a really charming and funny man!
Thomas George Collection
I was there with Ben Atkinson and James Seaford representing the Thomas George Collection. I recently signed on as fellow co-founder and Director (Business Strategy) and it was an absolute pleasure to be there talking about quality shoes and shoe care with other people.
We show cased our prototype shoes that will be launching in January 2020 and the response that we got from many gentlemen and ladies there was overwhelmingly positive.
Throughout the day I had the opportunity to meet many influencers in the industry, other smart looking men, women in the industry and got to hang out with a handful of them after the event. It was also heartwarming to be greeted by many people who knew me through Welted Shoes Australia!
It was a fun day to just get to know new people and share a similar passion for looking dapper with them.
Carl from Old Angler
Alain from Pacifico Optical
Truefitt & Hill
It’s A Wrap!
The main thing that stood out to me from all the talks was the need for men to take care of their skin and hair more. I’m going to need to start looking into pre-shave oil and use a hair conditioner.
As for shoes, James Seaford spoke really well to the audience and his anecdotes were engaging and educational. Was great to reaffirm what I know and also for our team to share that with everyone else.
In my last visit to Melbourne mid this year, I didn’t have much time to explore the city as it was for a school PD related trip. This time, I came back with my parents to go at our own pace at checking out the place. Here are some highlights in the journey!
Melody plays the Double Bass professionally and is also a handwelted shoe maker. In fact, I believe she and Theo Hasset are the only ones in Australia doing this! I visited her workshop at her home and was warmly welcomed in. We had a look at the workshop and had a lovely time chatting over some tea.
We discussed things like the Welted Shoes Australia (WSA) group, the shoe scene in Australia, how her journey in shoemaking began, and how her husband is still waiting on his pair to be made haha! I think my dad was very chuffed that she complimented his leather working skills when he showed her my mum’s wallet that he made.
She’ll be making me a semi-brogue shoe in dark brown kangaroo leather that I cannot wait for! Every part is literally made by hand: the insole has no gemming, i.e. there is no glue used to make a holdfast – it’s entirely carved out by hand, the leather is pulled over the last by hand, the welt is handstitched (hence the handwelt name of construction). She also uses JR soles for maximum durability. Who needs a Goodyear Welt machine when you have these skills!
Prices start at $3000 for French d’Annonay calf leather, handwelted and crafted by Melody. She’s actually currently making some ready to wear pairs for Nathan Baxter’s shop in Sydney!
We shined shoes, talked about the WSA group, shined more shoes, enjoyed a visit by Ben Watson of WSA, drank beer, ate lunch, learned how to tie the Berluti knot, ate dinner, talked about the shoe scene in Australia and had a bloody good time.
We also had a unique chance to see some samples of new models for the Thomas George Collection!
It was an epic day. The office lobby also had nice concierge staff and a beautiful flower bouquet. They auction it every Friday.
Harry Potter & The Cursed Child
Visiting Melbourne means you have to watch the Harry Potter & The Cursed Child play. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. I’m so glad that I didn’t finish reading the script but instead saw the play without any of the plot spoiled for me.
The show was absolutely magical and I was convinced that I was in that world. The special effects and surprises kept coming in each act. I would highly recommend watching this show for one of the best days out in your life! (Avoid seat R14)
My dad wanted to check out this leather warehouse. It had so much stuff he went kinda crazy buying leather from the scrap bins like a child during Christmas.
I’m looking forward to what my dad will make from these new leather purchases! He’s made my mum a couple of wallets and me a NATO strap.
Manfred’s Shoe Lounge
A highly recommended spot in North Melbourne, Manfred’s is home to a hair salon, shoe shop and shoe repairer. It’s literally a Shoe Lounge.
My last stop was at the leatherworker/cordwainer Wootten. The shoes are all either Blake stitched or rapid Blake stitched. If you’re someone like me who prefers the Goodyear Welt construction, the rapid Blake Stitch is something you can consider for its similar style and durability.
They have a bag that I am eyeing called the Weekender. It’s so beautiful! You can see the smaller version called the Overnighter in my first photo above on display in the window.
Caught up with my friend who moved to Melbourne here. I was so tired and I was also with my parents, so we didn’t kick on to more alcohol fuelled fun afterwards unfortunately. Next time…
Nihonshu Shochu & Sake Bar
Legitimate and authentic Japanese Izakaya. I didn’t take any photos but it was awesome. Try the plum wine.
Day drinking and shooting hoops. Best combination.
Wholesome dinner with James, his wife and my parents here in Moonee Ponds. Excellent Vietnamese food! I want to go to Vietnam now to experience their food and culture!
They sell Berwick 1707, Loakes and Carlos Santos here as well as some other brands that appear Blake stitched. Some cool shoes with beautiful patina on display here. Didn’t have much time to poke around though.
Had to say hi to the boys Ben and Charles in the main store in Melbourne. My mum really liked the petite ladies Crockett & Jones shoes!
Two days after returning from Melbourne, I was off on a plane again to Hong Kong with my mum. It was a mother and son trip, dad stayed home. We mainly just visited family and mum’s friends, as well as some occasional shopping. No, I didn’t participate in the protests! I was there for two purposes in addition to spending time with my mum and keeping her company.
Celebrating Milestones and Moving On
I’ve been working full time for some time now and I feel I’ve grown a lot in my job, all thanks to my colleagues and bosses of course. In terms of style, I’ve graduated from someone who cared very little about how I presented myself to being a bit better groomed these days. It was a good time to celebrate these little achievements and milestones in my life so through my mum’s contacts in Hong Kong, I purchased a Rolex Submariner No Date 114060 and came here to pick it up.
However, it wasn’t really these achievements and milestones that brought about the idea of buying it, as much as many men love to own nice watches and look for any excuse to justify getting one.
About a year ago I had my mind set on saving this money I spent on the watch on something else. Something much more spectacular and special. However, shit happens and those plans fell through. Using those funds instead to buy the watch also makes it a symbolic reminder to forget the past, forgive, and move on.
“God sometimes breaks your heart to save your soul” – I read that on Instagram somewhere a few days ago and it really resonates with me.
Exploring Shoe Shops
The next objective of my visit after picking up my Submariner was to explore all the shoe joints of the city! It was an exciting day for me, though probably not for my mother who graciously plodded along to hold me back from splurging too much on… too much.
In Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) and Causeway Bay (CWB) is a little shoe shop called HOAX. They stock shoes aimed at the lower to middle tier levels of quality. They have a variety of shoes for sale that differ by construction, country of origin and of course prices. From memory they have Joseph Cheaney, some Japanese brand that I forgot the name of, and Berwick 1707.
I got myself two pairs of Berwicks as I have had no exposure to them before and they were quite affordable compared to other brands. Plus, there’s no stockist in Sydney for them so what better opportunity than to get them here! In buying two pairs, I received a discount and also joined their VIP Club for a permanent 10% off any purchases in the future!
The manager was also incredibly friendly and catered for me very well! Thanks Jan!
On www.fineshoes.co.uk they listed two places to find good shoes. The Hackney was one of them.
Here, I saw a collection of beautifully made shoes by Carlos Santos and Carmina. The main business of The Hackney was in men’s suiting so I also had a chance to ask about that. Full canvas with VBC fabric starts about $7000HKD and with Holland & Sherry fabric, it’s 5 digits. I think I’ll have to wait for a better exchange rate!
The other place listed was Prestitch. There were Vass shoes and Antonio Meccariello on display here. I’ve always wanted a pair of Antonio’s so it was a great opportunity for me to be able to try them on.
As the photo above describes, Leather Healer is a shoe shop and cobbler all in one tiny space. There’s barely any room to swing a cat!
They stock a wide selection of shoes from Carlos Santos, Berwick 1707, Justin Fitzpatrick and TLB Mallorca. So many choices! Not only do they stock many shoe brands, they also have Saphir and Boot Black shoe care products for sale.
Walking around in Landmark, I stumbled across this French brand of shoe. We don’t have this one in Australia, so it was a pleasant surprise for me to find this!
The shoes are beautifully presented with impressive glacages and patinas. In fact, the ladies in the shop do the patina with dyes, creams and waxes live for their customers.
I was lucky enough to come visit the store when they were promoting a watch brand and sparkling apple juice with gold flakes. I also got to try a complimentary drink! Fancy schmancy.
At Corthay, I also had the wonderful opportunity to chat about shoes and polishing with a Mr Jean-Loup Vittu. Before moving to Hong Kong, he was the shoe shiner for John Lobb Paris! So of course I had to learn a few things from him.
He told me all about the unique styles and offerings of Corthay, how they differ and excel above other European brands like Berluti. It was also awesome to behold his black dial Audemars Pigeut Royal Oak watch! Thank you Jean, for your time and extra tips on shoe polishing!
Just a brief stop, some nice shoes here. A mix of Blake Stitch and Goodyear welt shoes, ranging from calf leathers to reptile.
The store that resembles Double Monk the most has got to be Tassels in terms of shoe offerings. They stock Crockett & Jones, Edward Green, Alden, Joseph Cheaney and Bontoni.
It’s also encouraging to see that they also offer seasonal discounts, something that doesn’t ever happen at Double Monk. For example, an Edward Green Piccadilly loafer was on 40% off to bring it in line with Crockett & Jones handgrade prices! That’s incredibly generous of Tassels to do that.
Of note also is that they stock Saphir and Boot Black polishing products. I believe they tend to gravitate towards Boot Black as they put it more upfront on display. Not only that, but they also run a Monday-Friday Boot Black shoe shining service by a shoe shiner Sifu (Master) just right outside their shop!
The store I visited with most anticipation was The Armoury and oh boy, it did not disappoint. The sheer amount of men’s fashion goodies like ties, suits, glasses, shoes, hats, accessories, umbrellas and watches was impressive to say the least.
It was also enlightening to finally behold a pair of Yohei Fukuda’s shoes. The incredible care and masterful craftsmanship presented in the shoes just blew me away.
The store also stocks Saint Crispin, Carmina and their own line of The Armoury in-house shoes. They bought the licence to their own last from a dying shoemaker and collaborate with Yohei Fukuda on the designs. Made in Northampton, their in-house branded shoes are on the level of other brands of similar price range like Crockett and Jones.
When I was there, I was also lucky to catch the 2019 Shoe Making World Championship winning exhibits on display! The techniques and level of detail in each shoe looked like it was out of this world. It just shows how the qualities of 100% handcrafted shoemaking are impossible to replicate in any factory.
Kow Hoo Shoe Co.
I accidentally stumbled upon this shoe maker while I was wandering aimlessly around the Landmark. I’m glad I found it as the story behind this shop is quite a moving one.
For about $16000 HKD, you can get your own personalised wooden last made to any specification that you wish; round/chisel toe, elongated or short, wide or narrow. Following this, the shoe making process begins with multiple fittings, always prioritising comfort before working on form. Each shoe takes about a year to make employing only handwelting methods.
However, the most bewildering thing is that the Sifu behind each shoe is now 90 years old and still painstakingly handwelting each shoe. The lady in the store was holding back tears as she told me there’s no one younger to take on the craft. It was sad to literally see a dying art in its last years. I just hope that they’ll somehow be able to pass the torch on.
Food & Drinks
I enjoy catching up with my good friend Benny every time I’m in Hong Kong. He’s incredibly down to earth and takes no crap from anybody. He also knows the best places for culture and food in the city, and this time around he showed me a few places that I really enjoyed!
Can’t believe my conference trip to Melbourne was already over a week ago as of the time of writing this post, as I am already on holiday in Hong Kong – watch out for my post about that!
Over in Melbourne, I met the other Admins of Welted Shoes Australia Facebook group; James and Ben. We enjoyed several beers and an Espresso Martini at various locations around the Melbourne city!
I also had the opportunity to shine one of James’ Crockett and Jones shoes on another day while filming for a short, fun interview. Hopefully that’s coming soon!
Culture and Food
The National Gallery of Victoria also had an exhibition showcasing the Terracotta Warriors and Cai Guo Qiang’s masterpieces. I thoroughly enjoyed that.
I only had one chance to visit a nice cafe in Melbourne as the other days were spent in a conference. I went to Hardware Societe which was recommended to me many years ago. Pretty good food and interesting coffee art.
I stopped by briefly at American Tailors and checked out some of their Francesco Maglia umbrellas. They’re so thicc that a Fox Umbrella would look like a skinny boy next to them. Although their products and services are of the best quality, I found it difficult and on the verge of impossible to establish a rapport with the staff who were considerably older than me and the Double Monk staff. Maybe it’s just me.
Of course, my visit to Melbourne was not complete without checking out the flagship store of Double Monk. I had a friendly and very educative chat about shoes with Charles and Ben from there, topics ranging from why they don’t stock Carmina and George Cleverley (anymore), why certain leather choices are more economical than others and managed to convince me why buying a Stefano Bemer replica Russian reindeer shoe is a bad idea. A lot of food for thought. Interesting perspectives.
Melbourne is such a great city for all it has to offer and it’s such a shame I couldn’t stay for longer.
I’ll be back for some more exploration in October, during which I will be watching the Harry Potter plays too!
Ever hear a song or a tune and you suddenly experience a past memory again?
It’s funny how the mind and memory works. I read somewhere that we remember things because we feel an emotion in that point in time, and what better way to instill emotion in the soul than with music? It amazes me how we can physically be in one location and one point in time, but our memories and minds can take us beyond the realm of space and time.
I dunno, maybe I just day dream too much?
Over the last 27 years of my life, it’s insane how many nostalgic memories I’ve stored up get recalled once I hear or sometimes even think of a certain song. On the other hand, when I don’t have an associated tune or emotion attached to an event, I don’t even believe they happened even after someone has tried to remind me of it.
Here are some artists and one of their songs that bring back some memories…
Do you ever get a rush of brilliant ideas right before you have to move on to do something else?
Like when you’re in the shower and these ideas of how to solve just about any problem come out of nowhere. Or when you’ve tapped into the flowing river of creativity and you’re literally Picasso. When a sudden surge of genius from Einstein’s ghost implants itself in your brain…
But then the shower turns off. Dinner gets called. Time runs out in an exam. Then the ideas slowly fade like a mist floating away.
So I’m on holiday and for the first week I bummed around not doing much. Just enjoying myself. Relaxing a bit. It’s now Friday and I have to go back to work next Monday but I’ve just suddenly got an influx of projects and ideas in my head that I want to work on! That’s partly why I’ve started this personal blog. It was amongst one of the ideas.
I’m afraid I might not have the time to work on them during the school term. So here’s a short list of what I want to do and maybe in the next holiday I’ll have time!
List of Brilliant Ideas That I Will Have Time For Someday
I used to maintain an online puzzles website when I was a teenager. It was a lot of fun. Some crazy smart Russian guys solved every single puzzle. Unfortunately, all the work I put into it is lost but I want to redo it.
One of the things I am passionate about is men’s shoes and their preservation and presentation, so I want to write a guide on how to do that.
YouTube videos on something. Video editing is a pain though.
Monetise my websites. I’m literally sitting on like $99.73 from my days of making YouTube gaming videos and the payout is at $100. I want that moolah!
I used to make phone apps but they got out of date quickly due to technology constantly evolving. Maybe it’s time to get back into it.
Partner up with some friends and do some business of some sorts. Like data analysis I dunno.
I figure writing down the ideas and having something to reference later will be a good start to providing some solidarity to the mist. Hopefully they will eventuate and I’m not just grasping at the wind.