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Leather or rubber soles? - Page 5

post #61 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerP View Post

What a wonderful world you live in, being the sole repository of knowledge where all else is ignorance. Whenever I run across someone like yourself I mostly just laugh. 

Well, having some knowledge is always better than having none...the lack of which undoubtedly accounts for your penchant to read and imagine what is not there and has not been said. I never claimed sole proprietorship. To the contrary, I follow in the footsteps of a long line of bespoke makers going back centuries. Most of what I am drawing on is old knowledge, traditional knowledge, tried and true knowledge. Passed on from one maker to another and requiring years to master.

Nor have I ever claimed to be an expert. That's another leap to fantasy. I have, however, made my entire living for many years doing this. Maybe I'll do til a real one comes along.

"To treat your facts with imagination is one thing, but to imagine your facts is another." ~John Burroughs
Quote:
In my experience, the real experts in any given field are widely known and recognized, such that they don't have to trumpet their expertise every time they open their mouths. Is your experience different? 

To whom do you refer? I don't trumpet my expertise or my work, except when called out by people who know absolutely nothing. That's a well-known fact around here. My only reference to myself was to point out that I've been making shoes and boots for over 40 years. It was a resume' of sorts to establishes a basis for evaluating credibility. That's all.

But while we're at it...how long have you been making shoes?

On the other hand, you pontificate as if you know something...and with no honest basis to do so. What exactly would that something be? Hearsay? The conflation of wishful thinking with boredom and abject ignorance?

Your credentials, by comparison, are what?
Quote:
I will wait patiently for just a handful of those voiceless thousands to tell their own tales of synthetic sole devastation.

I doubt that. It would hint at a broader sense of curiosity, engagement, and willingness to learn. But again, you're living in lala land. I spoke only of my own knowledge with many, many pair of shoes as well as a singular but intimate and certain knowledge of the techniques and materials that go into making shoes. Most people who bring in problematic shoes are like you--oblivious to the the breakdowns and the stench. And, similarly, they often remain so.

On the other hand they don't have to be aware of the problems--there's always another pair to buy and brag about and defend as if they had made them with their own little clever hands. And always someone else to fix the problems for them.

It is a choice, however...as I've said many times here--we are all born ignorant, there's no onus in it. That said, choosing to remain ignorant is the one surefire path to stupidity.

--
Edited by DWFII - 10/17/13 at 5:59pm
post #62 of 171

^^^ Can't believe you typed that with a straight face - it had to have cracked you up - even a little bit.  I know it made me laugh out loud.  "I don't trumpet my expertise..."?  Oh really??  Only in every second post, it seems.  Please don't make me go through them to find a dozen recent examples.  Are you really "called out" quite so often? Can you think of any reason why that might be?

 

You claim you aren't selling anything, but you are.  You are selling yourself as an absolute authority who must not be questioned.

And  I'm not buying, for the simple reason that what you're selling doesn't remotely accord with the reality that I have experienced over a couple decades of engaging in the very foot and shoe-destructive activity that you claim will bring certain doom.  Guess what Chicken Little?  The sky isn't falling.  And it's not just that it's really falling, but I can't tell.  It just isn't falling.  Really, it isn't.  But I don't expect you to accept that any more than I expect the crazy dude on the street corner to accept that the world isn't ending.  You and he are far too invested in your beliefs.

 

And the proof of the hard sell?  Your endless repetition of the same unsupported claims, over and over again with the proof resting upon the masses of silent (imaginary?) thousands for whom you claim to speak.  You say you aren't trying to convince me of anything, but you can't let it go.  Because if you do, you lose the sale.

 

Amirite?

post #63 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerP View Post
So no damage to you shoes or your feet from wearing synthetic soles?  Are you sure? Perhaps, like me, you are simply unable to detect that your feet are in poor health and that your shoes smell and are falling apart.  Or, you could just be lucky, too.

Or perhaps there is someone else who can't be convinced.... even by the facts.

 

Damn, I edited that post before I realised you had responded to it... but anyway, yes - I often wear running shoes that are probably close to 100% synthetic petrochemical product, and my feet are fine, even if they do sometimes feel warmer, and despite the 265 lb load I put on them with my bodyweight and backpack. Might I add that if I power-walked, ran and used gym equipment in Goodyear-welted leather shoes with leather soles, I somehow think my feet, joints, shoes and bank balance would be worse off. Of course, each of these types of shoe has its place and is optimised for different conditions, but there is a degree of overlap when it comes to, say, long, brisk walks, where either type can be used - something I have done and have seen the results, viz. that overall, synthetic running shoes far outperform dress shoes yet again... and that Dainite is more comfortable and durable for long walks than single leather in the dry and wet. Where running shoes fall down is in the wet - water gets straight in through the air holes. Leather uppers and rubber soles are best for me in wet conditions with the possible exception of freshly polished wet marble (which I'd probably avoid no matter what shoes I was wearing - I'm not going to walk straight through puddles with leather soles if I can help it).

 

Further on the subject of foot temperature, I have stated before that I can feel the heat of a sun-baked pavement more clearly through a single leather sole presumably due to its greater thermal permeability*, and the same applies to very cold ground which I also feel. Notwithstanding possible differences in the thermal permeability of sole materials, to me, foot temperature seems to have more to do with socks, the upper and inner sole than the outer sole. Of course, if I walk on cool ground with leather soled shoes, it probably will help to keep my feet cooler than in rubber soled shoes, but that benefit cannot always be realised because the ground is not always cool (here in Australia the pavement is not terribly cold very often, and in spring and summer it can get very hot), and if the lower foot temperature is owing to leather's better thermal permeability, that's not the same as wicking away moisture, is it?

Decent quality Dainite soled dress shoes still have the same leather insole as their leather soled counterparts, and therefore (presumably) similar immediate potential for wicking away moisture. Additionally, the moisture can evaporate upwards after the shoes have been removed.

 

*I write of thermal permeability only as a shoe-wearing obsever, not from the perspective of a scientist.

 

 

DWFII might be best placed to answer the following question.

How much moisture can truly be wicked away through the outsole of a gemmed Goodyear-welted shoe with cork filler?
I do wonder how the various construction methods (Goodyear-welted, hand-welted, Fairstitched, cemented leather, etc.) compare in terms of wicking away moisture. Surely, glue / cement, PVC ribbing, the shank and the (often fake) cork filler are barriers to the wicking away of moisture, and the exposure of such components to moisture would lead to their degradation. It is not hard to imagine the inner sole absorbing some moisture from the foot, but that moisture's passage through the inner sole, cement, cork and then through the outer sole does seem a little more complicated.

 

No doubt the wicking action would be better with hand-welted shoes sans cork filler and gemming, and in Blake-stitched (and possibly Fairstitched) shoes. My experience with hand-welted shoes does not allow for a good comparison because I tend to baby them, generally avoid long walks etc., but they are certainly comfortable; I have no Blake or Fairstitched products at the moment.

 

Anyway, foot temperature is only one aspect of comfort, and when it comes to walking long distances I don't think it is the most important one. Someone who spent most of their day in an air conditioned office would probably rate it higher on the list of important factors affecting comfort than me, because I accept an increase in temperature, sweating etc. as part of the experience of walking for miles. When I get to my destination I can take my shoes and socks off for a few minutes to let everything cool off and dry, if I really have to.

 

Quote: DWFII
 In fact, when you get right down to it, most people on this forum welcome the opportunity to buy a new pair of shoes in the latest fashion...if only to brag about it...and so the premature breakdown of a shoe isn't an issue they are going to remember.

Ooooh yeah, that certainly does seem to go on.

The serious shoe buffs, if they are anything like me, have a sizeable rotation and are careful where they step when they are wearing their prized possessions, even if their design incorporates such weaknesses as canvas or PVC ribbing and cement. I haven't seen too many photos of $1000 shoes and boots that have truly been put through the ringer.


Edited by nh10222 - 10/20/13 at 3:50am
post #64 of 171
Yes.
post #65 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by YRR92 View Post
 

So, because the insole doesn't "hold the shoe together" in the same way as on a handwelted shoe, it's possible to use materials with less structural integrity at the expense of longevity? Can these materials (which I presume are much cheaper) be used in blake/rapid shoes?

 

Why are blake/rapid shoes so often cheaper than GY-welt shoes with equivalent workmanship?

 

Sorry for all the questions, but I'm curious.

 

1. Yes, yes.

2. Less machinery, less stitching, less material.

post #66 of 171

Quote:

Originally Posted by RogerP View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

And I've been making shoes and boots, full time, for over 40 years. Whatever you've experienced is almost unimportant---it's one rather limited POV and one that does not, fundamentally, have even the knowledge or background to know what to look for.

95 out of a 100 people on this forum...99.9 out of a 100 in the world at large... wouldn't know or recognize the problems of GY inseam breakdown or even the difference between a leatherboard insole and a leather insole.

In fact, when you get right down to it, most people on this forum welcome the opportunity to buy a new pair of shoes in the latest fashion...if only to brag about it...and so the premature breakdown of a shoe isn't an issue they are going to remember.

 

And if my insole isn't torn, worn through, curled, cracked, warped, lifting or the like

 

I'm grateful for DWFII's detailed coverage of the pitfalls of Goodyear welting, ribbing/gemming etc. and share his aversion to the factory mentality*, shortcut techniques, substitution of traditional materials etc. Where practicable, I choose hand-welted shoes, but I am also more careful wearing them, generally sparing them the abuse of extended outdoor walks and wet conditions, which skews my experience and precludes good comparison in terms of comfort and durability.

 

On the subject of gemming, I have an old pair of Hanover L.B. Sheppard longwings lying around, the inner sole of which seems to be depressed in certain areas. The problem is most obvious near the ball of my foot - whether it is merely an adaptation to the previous owner's foot which does not match mine and is therefore very obvious, the cork has rotted away or the gemming has failed, I'm not sure; it was my first second hand shoe purchase. They are comfortable shoes.

 


It certainly looks like the leather insole has adapted to the shape of the foot and toes with time, pressure and sweat, but I believe this action has also been brought into question. Does that action explain all of the deformation that can be seen in the photo?

 

*Touching on a major political economic topic that lies outside the scope of this thread, factories in the West that give ordinary people a living wage are better than nothing, even if they do cut corners in the name of profit. There are Goodyear-welted factory-made shoes selling for $150, and others with some of the same shortcuts that sell for $1,300. I'd say the gemming shortcut is perfectly acceptable for a product in the $0-400 range, but beyond that, the higher the price, the stronger the stench of stinginess. That's just me. Gemming is not necessarily a deal-breaker, but nothing to celebrate, either.

 

DWFII has surely given us food for thought, and a lot of us don't like the taste! lol...


Edited by nh10222 - 10/18/13 at 4:20pm
post #67 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by nh10222 View Post
 

 

Damn, I edited that post before I realised you had responded to it... but anyway, yes - I often wear running shoes that are probably close to 100% synthetic petrochemical product, and my feet are fine, even if they do sometimes feel warmer, and despite the 265 lb load I put on them with my bodyweight and backpack. Might I add that if I power-walked, ran and used gym equipment in Goodyear-welted leather shoes with leather soles, I somehow think my feet, joints, shoes and bank balance would be worse off. Of course, each of these types of shoe has its place and is optimised for different conditions, but there is a degree of overlap when it comes to, say, long, brisk walks, where either type can be used - something I have done and have seen the results, viz. that overall, synthetic running shoes far outperform dress shoes yet again... and that Dainite is more comfortable and durable for long walks than single leather in the dry and wet. Where running shoes fall down is in the wet - water gets straight in through the air holes. Leather uppers and rubber soles are best for me in wet conditions with the possible exception of freshly polished wet marble (which I'd probably avoid no matter what shoes I was wearing - I'm not going to walk straight through puddles with leather soles if I can help it).

 

Further on the subject of foot temperature, I have stated before that I can feel the heat of a sun-baked pavement more clearly through a single leather sole presumably due to its greater thermal permeability*, and the same applies to very cold ground which I also feel. Notwithstanding possible differences in the thermal permeability of sole materials, to me, foot temperature seems to have more to do with socks, the upper and inner sole than the outer sole. Of course, if I walk on cool ground with leather soled shoes, it probably will help to keep my feet cooler than in rubber soled shoes, but that benefit cannot always be realised because the ground is not always cool (here in Australia the pavement is not terribly cold very often, and in spring and summer it can get very hot), and if the lower foot temperature is owing to leather's better thermal permeability, that's not the same as wicking away moisture, is it?

Decent quality Dainite soled dress shoes still have the same leather insole as their leather soled counterparts, and therefore (presumably) similar immediate potential for wicking away moisture. Additionally, the moisture can evaporate upwards after the shoes have been removed.

 

*I write of thermal permeability only as a shoe-wearing obsever, not from the perspective of a scientist.

 

All of this makes so much sense to me, and reflects my own experiences over a great many years of wearing quality shoes of different configurations.

post #68 of 171

I will cheerfully acknowledge that I am no sort of expert, either in leather or in my experience with quality shoes.

 

I am one of many hopeless fans of DWFII and appreciate his patience explaining the surprisingly complex process of making shoes.

 

Just a note to say that I find it hard to believe that any significant amount of water passes all the way through the sock liner, glue, leather (or whatever) insole material, glue, cork, glue, and outsole. To the extent that any makes this trip, I doubt enough does so to dry off the foot, or to be noticeable. Add a midsole and it seems even less likely.

 

I base this opinion in part on being a shoe wearer, but more on a bit of reading on water permeability rates through leather.  It just does not seem to happen fast enough for there to be a detectable effect in the few hours that one might wear a pair of shoes. I hope some of the people with experience in the manufacture industry will chime in, but it seems that getting water through typical shoe leather may take several days to reach equilibrium. This might matter to someone out in the field for days on end who can neither change shoes nor remove them for any period of time. To those of us who take their shoes off in the evening, and wear different shoes the next day, I come back to skepticism that water vapor moving all the way from the inside of the shoe to the outside of the sole has any appreciable effect on the feel or durability of the shoe. There are standardized tests of water permeability through leather, so someone, probably manufacturers of soling leather, actually knows the answer.

 

I find it much more believable that the effects that DWFII raises are due to other aspects of shoe construction. It is possible that the leather board or other cheaper insole materials hold more water, or are better environments for microbial growth. It is possible that the binder used to hold these substances together deteriorates over time or prevents them from absorbing water (and they are close to the foot than is the outside of the sole). Maybe people who wear expensive hand welted shoes take better care of them than do people who wear cheap shoes made with man made insoles and rubber soles. If I were to buy a pair of shoes from DWFII, and somehow survive my wife finding the bill, I would lavish every bit of proper care on them I could. If I had a pair of disposable shoes with "leather" uppers, rest man made material, I doubt I would worry so much about preserving them.

 

I have at times suspected that sole protectors made shoes feel warmer than those with bare leather soles. But I think this may be an insulation effect, since it becomes manifest quite quickly, within a few minutes, certainly not long enough for water to be evaporating from the sole. 

 

And since we have DWF's attention, a completely unrelated question.

 

I gather the traditional tool for sewing the upper and welt to the insole, and the outsole to the welt is a boar's bristle. Why is that? This, I gather, continued after metal needles were readily available, and DWF uses them today. Is there something about flexibility of the instrument that makes this better? When doing this sewing do you need to make the thread follow a curved path that would be difficult to negotiate with a rigid needle? Is there a risk of a needle damaging the leather?

 

I like the look and feel of leather soles, but they wear too quickly, and I am too cheap to accept the rate of resoling they would require. So I use sole protectors. They don't look as nice, but they are less slippery and do not wear nearly as fast as the bare leather.

post #69 of 171
I increasingly prefer rubber soles. Hard-wearing, waterproof, etc. Leather on business shoes, though I'm watching with interest leather/rubber combinations.
post #70 of 171
Just got back from a day on the Deschutes River fishing for steelhead. Late last year, after over 50 years of fishing single-handed fly rods, I switched to spey rods. What a hoot! Still learning and having to learn how to wade all over again as with age balance is affected.

Anyway, too much to respond to in detail. If I miss the gist of someone's question, draw my attention to it and I will do my best.

First, I don't need to sell or establish myself as an authority. People who insist that ignorance is as good as knowledge sell me far more effectively than I ever could.

That said, I am an authority on making shoes and boots--for two simple reasons: First, I've lived it, and, second, by comparison to the clueless "Asimov Opinionators" who have never done anything similar but still feel entitled to blow smoke up the arse anyone who will listen, I'm the closest you can get. For now. Until a real one comes along.

I am an authority because I always speak from experience...verified and compared with the experience of centuries of shoemakers. And I don't comment on or claim things I don't know anything about. Nor do I expect people to respect or believe me just because I say they should--I take time to explain and to offer insights that anyone with a little initiative and mental acuity can confirm.

I have no doubt that there are members of this forum who have just as much real, hands-on, sweat-of-the-brow, experience as I do...Janne Melkerssohn and Jan Petter Myhre are two who immediately come to mind...but they are few and far between (and don't include shoe groupies). I give them the respect due to them and that they have earned. I always have if only because i know that we can learn from each other although in those two cases more comes my way than the reverse.

But, that said, I am near-as-nevermind sure that they would echo my remarks in post 44 of this thread as well as the great majority of comments and advice I have given on this forum. Why am I sure? Because in 40 years of making shoes and boots I have corresponded with them, read their blogs and their postings,had discussions with most of them on the forum I created and administer, and I follow their work closely.

The next point is that there are a few people on this forum who insist on blowing everything out of proportion and catastrophizing every scenario. I ran across this when I first began pointing out the weaknesses of gemming and GY. Don't let such people obfuscate the issues into something they are not and never will. As consumers of shoes...buy what you want. As a maker I am compelled to point out the possibilities and the pros and cons of choices...choices that the average newcomer to this stage knows absolutely nothing about...in the hopes that I can help, even make a difference in the way our society sees (or, more likely, doesn't see) quality)

Rubber soles aren't going to blow up in your face. You may or may not experience deterioration of the insole and lining...depending on how much you perspire. Your feet and shoes may or may not smell more...depending on your body chemistry. But whether these things occur...or whether you've experienced them or not...you are setting the stage, you are increasing the likelihood. That's a fact.

Again, if you buy cheap shoes why worry.? But if you pay upwards of $1k for a pair of shoes...do you really want to pull the trigger on what some puffed up know-nothing assures you is an empty chamber?

Moisture doesn't come out of a shoe the way some think it does. It's not like stepping on a sponge. Moisture wicks into leather insoles...setting up the insole to create a footbed as well as drawing it away from the skin of the foot. But make no mistake, if you step in a puddle your sock will get wet...no matter how, or from what, the shoes are made.

But have you ever heard about how many micro-organisms live on our skin? Heat and moisture from the foot effectively creates a jungle environment in the shoe. The beasties multiply. When all the dead skin is consumed, they begin eating the nutrients that are residual in the leather or added by conditioning. That's what causes drying and cracking of the insole. That's what causes fungal infections of the skin. Not the moisture per se, but the organisms that are inhabitant.

Some would argue that there is so much glue and so forth that moisture cannot wick. That's true, especially in lower end shoes. But in higher end shoes neoprene and rubber based cements are avoided whenever possible. Sockliners are put in with natural glue--an age-old tradition; felt or leather is used for what fillers are needed between the outsole and insole; outsoles can be mounted without the use of glue or cement although as long as only the welt is cemented it probably makes no difference to the wicking properties.

Of far more significance and far more problematic is that most upper leathers have a finish of some sort on the surface. These can range from natural waxes to acrylic waxes to acrylic dyes (think paint) to corrected grain leathers.

There is no perfect solution, no perfect shoe. Only good, better, and best.

Let the Roger P. Rabbits of the world posture all they want...I share what I know (and it's not only not rocket science, it's one of the few things that I actually claim to know anything about) simply to generate perspective and insight.

Take them as you will; make of them as you want...it hasn't changed in thousands of years (10,000 if you believe the paleontologists), it's not gonna change because some loud -mouthed, no-credibility, no-experience, poseur says different.

Finally...we all have testimonials. I've eaten wild mushrooms that I picked myself...and lived. Others have not been so fortunate. Would I presume to advise you...not a chance. But that's just me. Neither, however, would I dismiss the claims of the mycologists. The difference is knowledge, experience, a willingness to learn, a certain humility...and a mature sense of caution and self-preservation.

Think about it.

PS...Yes bristles work better than any other alternative once you learn to finesse the bristle. It cannot be thought of as a quasi-needle. It must be seduced, not forced. A boar's bristle or a monofilament bristle will turn a corner and find its way through a blind hole where you will struggle with steel. It takes skill and patience to learn. Once learned...properly...few go back to steel bristles.

--
Edited by DWFII - 10/18/13 at 5:16pm
post #71 of 171

I doubt there are many on SF who question DWF's expertise and authority. In case anyone does, take a look at the Crispin Colloquy. It is a site for shoe and bootmakers to discuss their craft. Much of it far over my head, but DWF writes so well I enjoy reading it even if I don't really follow the technical details he is explaining. 

 

Typical posts go something like 

 

Question

 

"Help! I am trying to (incomprehensible shoemaking talk-IST), but I keep (IST) my (IST). Thought of trying (IST) but then it always (IST). Any ideas?"

 

Answer


"I seem to remember DWF had a solution to your problem, let's see if he is following this thread"

DWF

 

Long, beautifully written paragraph of IST, some of which I can understand.

 

Everyone thanks him.

 

On those occasions on SF when other actual experts weigh in with different opinions, it tends to be matters of degree. For example, is all machine welting to be abandoned, or is it a less optimal, but good enough approach for the price-conscious buyer?

 

It seems that the more you know about shoe and bootmaking, the less you argue with DWF about shoe and bootmaking. 

post #72 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post


Let the Roger P. Rabbits of the world posture all they want...I share what I know (and it's not only not rocket science, it's one of the few things that I actually claim to know anything about) simply to generate perspective and insight.

Take them as you will; make of them as you want...it hasn't changed in thousands of years (10,000 if you believe the paleontologists), it's not gonna change because some loud -mouthed, no-credibility, no-experience, poseur says different.


--

 

And just because you say synthetic soles make your feet unhealthy, and your shoes smell and fall apart doesn't make it so, either.  Surely somebody here would be reporting something - anything - along those lines if it were as certain a consequence as you are bleating about.  Where are the thousands?  Heck, where are the dozens?  Or, y'know, like, a handful, even?  We do have reports to the contrary, though.

 

By the way, I noticed several more lines of you NOT trumpeting your expertise in the full text of the above. :)  And it's all a smokescreen, anyway.  Let me explain what I mean.  If I were, a dermatologist, for example, I would have expertise that you do not have.  If I were like you, I would remind everyone of that every time I posted anything skin-related.  Now say I claimed that blue suits will give you a rash.  And I know this to be true because I have been a dermatologist for 40 years and know more than you ever will about skin issues, and have seen thousands upon thousands of examples of blue suit wearing dudes get rashes.  Okay fine.

 

But a lot of people on SF wear blue suits.  If they always give you a rash - heck - even if they sometimes give you a rash, you'd expect somebody to say "Y'know what, that dermatologist is right - I DO get a rash when I wear my blue suit."

 

If, on the other hand, nobody claimed to have experienced that consequence, then the dermatologist (expert though he may be) might just have a wee credibility problem on that particular claim.  Particularly if, in the face of the deafening silence on the whole empirical reports of a rash issue, he tried to duck behind a claim that "Well, they actually DO have a rash, they just lack the expertise to understand and be aware that they have a rash." :crazy:

post #73 of 171
I doubt any of us have worn a pair of shoes for enough miles and resolings (always with dainite) to even notice a difference. And even if we did, we probably wouldn't care since the shoe would be pretty darn worn out by that point anyway.
post #74 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by phxlawstudent View Post

I doubt any of us have worn a pair of shoes for enough miles and resolings (always with dainite) to even notice a difference. And even if we did, we probably wouldn't care since the shoe would be pretty darn worn out by that point anyway.

Then how much of a problem can it really be?

post #75 of 171
Quote: DWFII
 Again, if you buy cheap shoes why worry.? But if you pay upwards of $1k for a pair of shoes...do you really want to pull the trigger on what some puffed up know-nothing assures you is an empty chamber?

I certainly wouldn't want shortcuts in a pair of shoes that cost me $1,000 or more, but I know I already have some.

 

It seems that buying "cheap" shoes and not worrying is probably better than buying mid to high level RTW shoes and thinking they are good value, will truly allow the feet to breathe, will last much longer than cheaper options if worn in exactly the same way (i.e. every day, as an $80 pair would be), etc... it just doesn't seem to be a reflexion of reality. I'm not saying there are thousands of shoe buffs out there saying this stuff, but there certainly is some hype, and as a consumer and something of an enthusiast, I want to take a closer look...

 

...and so far, I still think aesthetics and other superficial considerations are some of the biggest real world factors for most people who go out of their way to buy "quality" shoes without spending more than about $800 per pair - including for shoe enthusiasts. There are the cost/benefit analyses that look at purchase price + cost of resoling v. shoe lifetime factors, but they tend to gloss over the fact that a good rotation is still required. Once the cost, space and time required for maintaining even a small rotation of about five pairs is factored in, I think we're entering the realm of the shoe enthusiast.

 

Quote: DWFII
You may or may not experience deterioration of the insole and lining...depending on how much you perspire. You're feet and shoes may or may not smell more...depending on your body chemistry. But whether these things occur...or whether you've experienced them or not...you are setting the stage, you are increasing the likelihood. That's a fact.

The principle of risk seems perfectly reasonable in itself, but it looks like in practice there are also variables that impact the performance of the superior leather options. So we have the theory and the practice.

 

Quote: DWFII
 Some would argue that there is so much glue and so forth that moisture cannot wick. That's true, especially in lower end shoes. But in higher end shoes neoprene and rubber based cements are avoided whenever possible. Sockliners are put in with natural glue--an age-old tradition; felt or leather is used for what fillers are needed between the outsole and insole; outsoles can be mounted without the use of glue or cement although as long as only the welt is cemented it probably makes no difference to the wicking properties.
 
Moisture doesn't come out of a shoe the way some think it does. It's not like stepping on a sponge. Moisture wicks into leather insoles...setting up the insole to create a footbed as well as drawing it away from the skin of the foot. But make no mistake, if you step in a puddle your sock will get wet...no matter how, or from what, the shoes are made.

 

So, in order for the leather sole to properly wick away moisture from the foot, for the wearer to truly benefit from "breathing" - supposedly one of the greatest non-aesthetic attributes of leather soles, it helps to have felt or leather filler in between the insole and outsole, as opposed to cork, or a whole lot of cemented cork granule rubbish through which anything wet is going to have more trouble permeating, that is until the cork has rotted away.

 

In other words, one would have to spend rather a lot of money on a pair of shoes to fully realise the moisture wicking benefits of leather soles. That's not to discount the potential for moisture wicking - it just seems that most people aren't able to reap the full benefit, probably even some of those who claim that they do, which suggests that whatever breathing action is being observed by many in the pro leather sole camp may actually be something else, or at least not what I thought those who mentioned it, meant.

 

Since I can't afford to deconstruct expensive shoes, I'd like an ingredients list for future high-end purchases.

 

Quote: DWFII
But have you ever heard about how many micro-organisms live on our skin? Heat and moisture from the foot effectively creates a jungle environment in the shoe. The beasties multiply. When all the dead skin is consumed, they begin eating the nutrients that are residual in the leather or added by conditioning. That's what causes drying and cracking of the insole. That's what causes fungal infections of the skin. Not the moisture per se, but the organisms that are inhabitant.

 

I do wonder that since micro-organisms eat dead skin cells, then start to degrade genuine leather inner soles and possibly other leather components, what scope there is for them to thrive in a synthetic shoe environment as opposed to leather if, say, the shoes were thoroughly aired out and allowed to dry in between wear - in the same manner in which quality leather shoes are supposed to be treated. Of course, very few people bother to do it, but at a guess, I'd say the results might not be too bad at all.

 

Overall, I still think it's hard to make a good comparison, because the various types of shoe being discussed are used and cared for differently, by people who see shoes very differently.

 

I'm sure I've seen reports of Goodyear-welted shoes not lasting very long when worn more than a couple of days per week - that's minimal rotation, often only allowed to rest and recover overnight, no shoe trees, no serious leather care, but probably still without much serious walking and spending most of their wear time in dehumidified air conditioned environments. It doesn't sound much better than the cheap, apron-toed leather dress shoes with rubber soles that seem to accompany most upstarts in their business attire these days, or fully synthetic running shoes. Now, we don't treat our Goodyear-welted shoes like that because we have a certain fixation on our footwear, but if we did, I wonder how much worse the state of our feet would be. I'm never going to find out if I can help it, but I doubt they would be that much worse off. I think the most obvious problem would be aesthetic - the shoes would look like crap towards the end of their short lives. Or, if we bought the $80 apron-toes, they'd look crappy to me from the word "go", even if they didn't start to stink or present any potential health risks for quite some time.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by dbhdnhdbh View Post

Just a note to say that I find it hard to believe that any significant amount of water passes all the way through the sock liner, glue, leather (or whatever) insole material, glue, cork, glue, and outsole. To the extent that any makes this trip, I doubt enough does so to dry off the foot, or to be noticeable. Add a midsole and it seems even less likely.

 

I base this opinion in part on being a shoe wearer, but more on a bit of reading on water permeability rates through leather.  It just does not seem to happen fast enough for there to be a detectable effect in the few hours that one might wear a pair of shoes. I hope some of the people with experience in the manufacture industry will chime in, but it seems that getting water through typical shoe leather may take several days to reach equilibrium. This might matter to someone out in the field for days on end who can neither change shoes nor remove them for any period of time. To those of us who take their shoes off in the evening, and wear different shoes the next day, I come back to skepticism that water vapor moving all the way from the inside of the shoe to the outside of the sole has any appreciable effect on the feel or durability of the shoe. There are standardized tests of water permeability through leather, so someone, probably manufacturers of soling leather, actually knows the answer.

That's more or less what I was thinking.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by RogerP View Post
 

And just because you say synthetic soles make your feet unhealthy, and your shoes smell and fall apart doesn't make it so, either.  Surely somebody here would be reporting something - anything - along those lines if it were as certain a consequence as you are bleating about.  Where are the thousands?  Heck, where are the dozens?  Or, y'know, like, a handful, even?  We do have reports to the contrary, though.

 

If, on the other hand, nobody claimed to have experienced that consequence, then the dermatologist (expert though he may be) might just have a wee credibility problem on that particular claim.  Particularly if, in the face of the deafening silence on the whole empirical reports of a rash issue, he tried to duck behind a claim that "Well, they actually DO have a rash, they just lack the expertise to understand and be aware that they have a rash." :crazy:

 

From what I have seen, most people who can afford to wear their synthetic running and skateboarding several days per week, even daily, but then discard them when they start to get tatty or even sooner, as they would any other disposable fashion item. Those less fortunate, who have their money committed elsewhere etc are likely to keep wearing them past their use by date, potentially suffering the effects of fungus on their feet. According to several online sources, running shoes should be replaced every 400-600 miles to ensure proper cushioning is maintained, which does not seem like much, but that's assuming they are actually used for running. It seems that thousands of miles can be covered for up to about two years, maybe more if they are rotated, if they are used for less intense activities such as walking, without any injury to the (regularly washed) feet, odours or fungus problems.

 

Quote: DWFII
 As consumers of shoes...buy what you want. As a maker I am compelled to point out the possibilities and the pros and cons of choices...choices that the average newcomer to this stage knows absolutely nothing about...in the hopes that I can help, even make a difference in the way our society sees (or, more likely, doesn't see) quality)

Believe it or not, that's why I'm here. I can't speak for the other members, but while it may not seem like I am reading your posts very carefully, I am trying to come away from them with something - and I believe I have.


Edited by nh10222 - 10/21/13 at 11:46am
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