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Why Todd Snyder Put Red Wing Leather into a Vintage Toyota Land Cruiser

Todd Snyder’s penchant for bringing past and present has been evident throughout his career and he’s collaborated with the best to produce Goodyear-welted boots, sweatshirts and watches.

Award-winning menswear designer Todd Snyder has stacked up an impressive resume with stints at Ralph Lauren, Gap and J.Crew. That track record translated well when he launched his eponymous brand in 2011 which has since churned out covetable garments that blend vintage inspiration with a modern eye. His long-standing love for Americana has resulted in collaborations with a bevy of heritage brands like Alden, Champion and Timex, but his latest co-branded effort is a bit out of the ordinary. Not only is the brand in question Japanese, but it’s also a carmaker.

The Toyota Land Cruiser is an icon of motor enthusiasts, so when the FJ Company asked him to dream up a custom version using vintage chassis, he couldn’t say no. The custom rig takes the rarer version of the Land Cruiser (the F43) with its extended cab and gussies it up with a Porsche-inspired mid-grey paint job and a luxe interior using Red Wing’s famed leather. It also outfits the vintage chassis with modern flare, adding more horsepower, automatic transmission (with a stick shift because, well, it’s fun) and Bluetooth-enabled speaker system. But why go from collaborating on sweatshirts and boots to a full-on motor vehicle? We talked with the man himself to find out.

Why the Toyota Land Cruiser?

I’m always inspired by classics. My dad was always a fan of Toyota growing up. He never had a truck like this, but he always felt that they were the best-made cars out there. They would rust out before the engine went out. Both my parents had Toyotas, but I’ve always felt, because I have a huge following in Japan, that I was a Japanese/American/British brand. I always look at those three as my sources of inspiration and this meant more to me because of the whole Japanese collection.”

It’s that balance between utility and luxe. At my company, we call it ‘luxutility.’ There’s a certain element, whether it’s a Red Wing boot or a leather jacket, where we take something that’s so utility-born and bring in this luxe element. It epitomizes what we do well.”

They didn’t make the extended FJ43’s for the U.S. market originally, so they used to be really rare and not available in America. That’s what made it even more appealing to me.”

On Collaborations

I like to take the old and the new and make it modern. I love to meet with founders and get into their heads and understand what makes them tick. For me, it’s about learning and watching other people and how they do their creative process. To me, that’s inspiring.”

I get to learn more about a craft that I don’t know anything about. A big reason why I do the collaborations is that I get to see inside peoples’ heads and because I’d rather work with the brand because they’re the experts. I want to work with the best to make something different. I’d rather partner with a brand or a company that I feel is best in class…The Japanese took the American automobile and made it their own way.”

The fun part about working with other brands is you get to see where their stretch is and where their comfort is. The biggest thing was the automatic transmission. I still wanted the look of the stick shift.”

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