To my mind, the best ‘heritage’ apparel isn’t just about reproducing the past, but acknowledging the past before adding something new. I mean, I can appreciate that a jacket draws inspiration from vintage US prison-wear, but I don’t want to look like I actually did time in Alcatraz. These boots from Yuki Matsuda’s Yuketen have, I think, an appropriate reverence for the past, while keeping things fresh and modern.
Matsuda’s work at Yuketen (as well as Monitaly, Epperson Mountaineering and Chamula) exemplifies the very best of Japanese re-purposed Americana. Not satisfied with simply replicating, there’s always a twist, a smart addition, be it through fabric, hue or detail. I’m not entirely appraised on the history of handles on the back of boots, but I think it’s reasonable to say they’re not that common. They look pretty fresh to me.
I guess they serve both an aesthetic and a practical purpose, although in my experience with Yuketens, it’s getting them off, rather then pulling them on that’s the pain.