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Leather or rubber soles? - Page 6

post #76 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by nh10222 View Post
 

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.

 

 

 

Well, yes, but I didn't think the focus of the synthetic sole commentary was on running shoes.  If we are discussing quality dress shoes and boots, some with leather soles, some with Topy'd leather and some with full synthetic soles (like the kind I own, and from what I have seen of your posts, the kind you own as well) are foot problems, overwhelming stench and structural damage a likely consequence of the latter two categories (Topy and full synthetic) but not a consequence of the first?  Assuming similar and normal wear (not babying them, not wading through swamps with them) between all the shoes - and proper care of shoes and feet alike?

 

Does it make sense to anyone here that for shoes of similar quality - heck, let's say they are all from the same manufacturer - that the difference in sole choice alone could have such catastrophic consequences for the shoe and wearer alike?

 

Because I have to say, it strikes me as a lot of puffed up nonsense.

 

At a recent trunk show, I had a chance to chat with Dean Girling about synthetic soles.  We were specifically discussing a pair of Wigmore boots with synthetic soles that I had previously purchased.  I'm not going to repeat the conversation because relying on what you claim others have said when they are not here to say it for themselves is unbelievably lame (ahem).  But suffice it to say that I ended the conversation even happier with my choice than when I started.

post #77 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerP View Post
 

Well, yes, but I didn't think the focus of the synthetic sole commentary was on running shoes.  If we are discussing quality dress shoes and boots, some with leather soles, some with Topy'd leather and some with full synthetic soles (like the kind I own, and from what I have seen of your posts, the kind you own as well) are foot problems, overwhelming stench and structural damage a likely consequence of the latter two categories (Topy and full synthetic) but not a consequence of the first?  Assuming similar and normal wear (not babying them, not wading through swamps with them) between all the shoes - and proper care of shoes and feet alike?

 

Because I have to say, it strikes me as a lot of puffed up nonsense.

 

At a recent trunk show, I had a chance to chat with Dean Girling about synthetic soles.  We were specifically discussing a pair of Wigmore boots with synthetic soles that I had previously purchased.  I'm not going to repeat the conversation because relying on what you claim others have said when they are not here to say it for themselves is unbelievably lame (ahem).  But suffice it to say that I ended the conversation even happier with my choice than when I started.


You're right - I was mainly looking at it from the perspective of consumer habit and also from a comparative angle of the overlap in use between quality leather dress shoes with leather and rubber soles, and synthetic running shoes, when it comes to activities like walking long distances, for which both types of shoe can supposedly be used (since there are people - presumably a small number - who seem to walk for miles in leather soled shoes without any problems and prefer them to rubber). That's really just an aside.

 

The key issue is the difference in performance between rubber and leather soles on shoes that are otherwise the same.

 

Quote: RogerP
 Does it make sense to anyone here that for shoes of similar quality - heck, let's say they are all from the same manufacturer - that the difference in sole choice alone could have such catastrophic consequences for the shoe and wearer alike?

As I covered in my last post, forget about consequences, I can't see any major differences unless we're spending huge amounts of money to get the materials that allow us to reap the full benefits of leather sole moisture wicking, etc., and even then we have to take the word of those who have reaped the benefits.

 

I doubt there are many people out there with high-end MTO, hand-welted shoes with only leather or felt filling the space between the insole and outsole, who have the same shoes with leather and rubber soles to make the comparison. I have hand-welted boots with leather and rubber soles (the latter on order), but I don't know what sort of filler is used (but after this discussion, I want to find out and have already sent an email). Therefore we must default to the expert knowledge of people like DWFII.


Edited by nh10222 - 10/25/13 at 11:29am
post #78 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by nh10222 View Post
 


The key issue is the difference in performance between rubber and leather soles on shoes that are otherwise the same.

 

As I covered in my last post, forget about consequences, I can't see any major differences unless we're spending huge amounts of money to get the materials that allow us to reap the full benefits of leather sole moisture wicking, etc.

 

Yes, and understood.

 

Having never experienced the consequences, or heard from anyone who has, I will have no problem at all forgetting about them. :)

post #79 of 171

Well, we've touched on a few broadly related but distinct issues here and largely forgotten about the original questions, which were in any case answered years ago.

 

Rubber soled dress shoes are often associated with low quality junk (the $80 apron-toed stuff), whereas the overall shoe quality issue - good quality shoes v. poor quality shoes - is really separate to the rubber v. leather soles issue, etc., at least in my opinion.

 

Perhaps that association of rubber with poor quality is reflected in what DWFII wrote here:

Quote: DWFII
 But even in...maybe especially in...the Trade rubber outsoles are a hallmark of lower quality--high end shoes seldom come with rubber outsoles, so perhaps it's a wash.

 

It's a widespread view, widely expressed on the fora and shared by members of the trade itself, not just because they like the income from leather resoles, but because most rubber soled leather shoes are cheap crap... but that does not mean all rubber soled leather shoes are crap, nor that they are merely "good" rather than "better", or - at a stretch of what many shoe enthusiasts could bear to read - perhaps even somewhere close to "best".


Edited by nh10222 - 10/18/13 at 8:43pm
post #80 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by nh10222 View Post

Perhaps that association of rubber with poor quality is reflected in what DWFII wrote here:

It's a widespread view, widely expressed on the fora and shared by members of the trade itself, not just because they like the income from leather resoles, but because most rubber soled leather shoes are cheap crap... but that does not mean all rubber soled leather shoes are crap, nor that they are merely "good" rather than "better", or - at a stretch of what many shoe enthusiasts could bear to read - perhaps even somewhere close to "best". Or does it?

Sure, if you're making high-end shoes and feel a need to cater to that segment of the population that has bought into all the hype about Danite, Vibram, etc., you can increase your profit margin marvelously by putting rubber soles on a good leather shoe...especially if you charge the same as for leather. For the most part...again when we're talking about high end...rubber soles of any kind are always going to be cheaper in terms of materials costs than leather. They are less labour intensive to produce, if nothing else.

And when you come right down to it , it takes less skill to mount a rubber outsole than it does leather and even a good maker can never exhibit his skill or bring any kind of finesse to the final result. In the end they will always look utilitarian and somewhat crude.

Given all that, I suspect that, especially on a forum such as this (StyleForum) it is more a wonder that rubber soles are extolled for any reason than that they would be associated with cheap shoes or the cheapening of a good shoe.

And if you're willing to overlook the aspects of not breathing and spreading, you probably don't care that they are almost without exception products of the petro-chemical industry and contribute to the destruction of whole eco-systems.

Leather is, of course a renewable resource...until pollution makes pastures and raising cattle unsustainable.

BTW, I occasionally put rubber outsole on shoe and boots I make for customers. But I'm never happy about it and usually forgo adding a maker's label in such cases.
post #81 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Sure, if you're making high-end shoes and feel a need to cater to that segment of the population that has bought into all the hype about Danite, Vibram, etc., you can increase your profit margin marvelously by putting rubber soles on a good leather shoe...especially if you charge the same as for leather. For the most part...again when we're talking about high end...rubber soles of any kind are always going to be cheaper in terms of materials costs than leather. They are less labour intensive to produce, if nothing else.

And when you come right down to it , it takes less skill to mount a rubber outsole than it does leather and even a good maker can never exhibit his skill or bring any kind of finesse to the final result. In the end they will always look utilitarian and somewhat crude.

BTW, I occasionally put rubber outsole on shoe and boots I make for customers. But I'm never happy about it and usually forgo adding a maker's label in such cases.

It's fair enough to say that shoemakers enjoy a financial benefit through charging the same for rubber soles on their high-end products when they actually cost less than the likes of oak bark tanned leather. The thing is, if those shoes are going to be worn in conditions that are not good for leather soles, the buyer will probably be compensated for that initial rip-off and the aesthetic costs with soles that last longer and are generally still very presentable (to the extent that they still look better than most other footwear in the vicinity).

When I choose rubber, it is always a utilitarian matter. Leather wins hands down when it comes to aesthetics, and I don't think many people question that. It's a utilitarian consideration and a compromise made for practical reasons - for me, because I want to wear nice shoes in conditions outside an office, walk long distances, and cannot easily access factory recrafting services or most traditional shoemakers etc. and find overshoes a hassle to carry unless I am going to work, and in any case impractical for walking any great distance in the wet. I don't like taking leather soles into haunts of the night, public toilets etc. either.

I've never bothered to use a factory recrafting service before, instead trying my luck with the dearth of local cobblers with mixed results, but I have read about its benefits from people like DWFII. The trouble is, leather soles don't last awfully long when they are actually walked on as opposed to babied in air conditioned offices, and for decent shoes, return airmail + recrafting costs = well over 50% of the price of a new pair of Church Chetwynds delivered to my door. I really wanted to stick to leather for "good" shoes, but eventually decided to try alternatives to address the issue and, despite my reservations, arrived at the Harboro Rubber Company Ltd., of Market Harborough, Leics., and their Dainite product. Dainite as an alternative to the Topy and toe tap method is an ongoing experiment, and so far, I like the results. However, I am by no means a 100% Dainite man.

I suppose another objection to Dainite would be that while leather soles can have Topys replaced, Dainite is not Topy'd when it eventually does wear down - but can it be?
I can't recall ever reading anything about it.

Perhaps the real answer is that it's simply not a good idea to wear luxury shoes in anything other than dry city/office conditions, and I'm trying my best to ignore that salient fact.

Quote:
 Given all that, I suspect that, especially on a forum such as this (StyleForum) it is more a wonder that rubber soles are extolled for any reason than that they would be associated with cheap shoes or the cheapening of a good shoe.
Rest assured, there aren't too many people who seriously get behind rubber soles on here, so far as I can tell.

Quote:
 And if you're willing to overlook the aspects of not breathing and spreading, you probably don't care that they are almost without exception products of the petro-chemical industry and contribute to the destruction of whole eco-systems.
Leather is, of course a renewable resource...until pollution makes pastures and raising cattle unsustainable.

In fact, the environment is a matter of concern for me, and the environmental benefit of leather over synthetic products was one of the three benefits I said I could think of in my first post in this thread: Many ways? Perhaps you were being diplomatic there, but I don't think there are many ways in which a good quality leather sole is truly superior to a good quality rubber sole. There are only about three I can think of...

I later added that after reading your posts I had four benefits on my list. As it stands now, I think I can still say about four, viz.
(1) superficialities - a well finished leather sole looks great, even with wear, and they sound great,
(2) comfort - they are comfortable for me under certain conditions,
(3) environmentally friendly,
the fourth, wherewith I have no experience but wherefor I have taken your word, that
- they don't spread like rubber, which helps maintain the structural integrity of Goodyear-welted shoes, and
a possible fifth,
- honouring the craft, traditional leatherworking and other political-economic concerns, although as consumers, their choices show that, for whatever reason, many people don't give much consideration to these parts of the equation (which could also easily be said about nos. 1, 3 and 4).

Then, there are what appear to me as conditional benefits, such as moisture wicking, effectively restricted to high-end shoes with a real leather inner sole and leather, felt or no filler between that and the outer sole; and a thermal permeability benefit, which can keep a foot cooler while walking in cool environments but will not be fully realised while walking on warm or hot ground (as I often find myself doing).
Edited by nh10222 - 10/19/13 at 4:39am
post #82 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerP View Post

Then how much of a problem can it really be?

Yes, that is the logical conclusion of what I wrote. I do not disagree with the statement.

Maybe if the shoes in question were several thousand dollar bespoke shoes, perhaps resoling them in dainite is not a good idea, just in terms of insurance, looks, etc. But, it's not my shoes, I don't really care what people do with their stuff as long as it doesn't impact everyone else.
post #83 of 171

 

Originally Posted by nh10222 View Post
 

Rubber soled dress shoes are often associated with low quality junk (the $80 apron-toed stuff), whereas the overall shoe quality issue - good quality shoes v. poor quality shoes - is really separate to the rubber v. leather soles issue, etc., at least in my opinion.

 

Exactly correct.  The use of rubber soles on cheap dress shoes is exactly what is clouding the issue.  But as you know, leather soles can also be found on cheap, crappy shoes that aren't worth a fraction of their $80 asking price.

 

Cheap junk is cheap junk regardless of sole material.  Top quality is top quality regardless of sole material.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nh10222 View Post


It's fair enough to say that shoemakers enjoy a financial benefit through charging the same for rubber soles on their high-end products when they actually cost less than the likes of oak bark tanned leather. The thing is, if those shoes are going to be worn in conditions that are not good for leather soles, the buyer will probably be compensated for that initial rip-off and the aesthetic costs with soles that last longer and are generally still very presentable (to the extent that they still look better than most other footwear in the vicinity).

 

It seems so in a purely technical sense to me.  But if we are speaking of $500 to $1,200 shoes - say, Carmina, to Gaziano & Girling, does it really make much sense that the difference in cost of the sole material is a significant net benefit to the manufacturer such that it is, in and of itself, a motivating factor in their choice?

 

And given that these manufacturers have much more invested in their reputation than puffed up nameless forum blowhards, does it seem likely that they would willingly use a sole material that would have such clear and inevitable negative consequences for their customers?

 

Yes, these are largely rhetorical questions - I am certain that you know the answers.


Edited by RogerP - 10/19/13 at 3:56am
post #84 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by phxlawstudent View Post


Yes, that is the logical conclusion of what I wrote. I do not disagree with the statement.

 

 

Thank you phx.

post #85 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerP View Post
 

It seems so in a purely technical sense to me.  But if we are speaking of $500 to $1,200 shoes - say, Carmina, to Gaziano & Girling, does it really make much sense that the difference in cost of the sole material is a significant net benefit to the manufacturer such that it is, in and of itself, a motivating factor in their choice?

 

Perhaps DWFII would be best placed to respond.

 

Well, charging the same for Dainite as for an expensive oak bark-tanned leather sole does seem a nice little way of skimming a little extra profit. Of course, as DWFII said, rubber soles are a rare find on high-end products - not because they are a rip-off, but because people don't want them, meaning the opportunity to capitalise would also be rare. Rare, but not unheard of, because the "same price for rubber and leather" scenario is one I have recently encountered. While the maker concerned is not necessarily high-end, he makes hand-welted boots and did not offer a discount when I specified Dainite instead of the standard Barker oak bark-tanned leather. However, knowing full-well what happens to those beautiful Barker soles when I crush them under 265 lb for miles on end, I went ahead with the rubber "rip off" anyway.

 

Quote: RogerP
And given that these manufacturers have much more invested in their reputation than puffed up nameless forum blowhards, does it seem likely that they would willingly use a sole material that would have such clear and inevitable negative consequences for their customers?

 

Yes, these are largely rhetorical questions - I am certain that you know the answers.

 

Haha well, in DWFII's case, apparently he will put rubber soles on his boots, but they won't be adorned with his name, so it's true to say that at least some of the high-end folks will not put their name to rubber-soled products. I respect their right to do so. Of course, the big time manufacturers don't seem to worry about it at all, whether that's because they have full confidence in products like Dainite, or do see it as inferior but simply don't care if a few customers suffer the consequences, I don't know.


Edited by nh10222 - 10/19/13 at 5:18am
post #86 of 171

I'd be interested to know the material cost for a quality pair of soles for an individual pair of shoes.  I suspect it is not a significant factor in the overall price of high end RTW shoes, much less bespoke.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nh10222 View Post
 

. Of course, the big time manufacturers don't seem to worry about it at all, whether that's because they have full confidence in products like Dainite, or do see it as inferior but simply don't care if a few customers suffer the consequences, I don't know.

 

I don't know either, but one explanation does seem more likely to me than the other.  Particularly since, if we are to accept what we are being told, it wouldn't be a "few customers" impacted.  We're talking untold thousands here.  Seems like a poor business model to save a few pennies or pounds on sole material only to have a line of disgruntled customers stretching out the door to complain about the resulting stench, among other things.  Even if we are to accept the implicit suggestion that these high end shoe companies care nothing for their product or their customers and are simply trying to maximize profit [an implication which I categorically reject] this would seem a poor means to that end.

post #87 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerP View Post
 

I'd be interested to know the material cost for a quality pair of soles for an individual pair of shoes.  I suspect it is not a significant factor in the overall price of high end RTW shoes, much less bespoke.

 

I'd like a full breakdown on materials, manufacturing methods and labour for every new pair I buy from now on. Then it could be plastered all over the fora, we could compare notes, judge and bitch. I emailed the bootmaker mentioned above a few hours ago.

post #88 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by nh10222 View Post
 

 

I'd like a full breakdown on materials, manufacturing methods and labour for every new pair I buy from now on. Then it could be plastered all over the fora, we could compare notes, judge and bitch. I emailed the bootmaker mentioned above a few hours ago.

 Indeed.

post #89 of 171

Here's a post by Leather man from 2009, on the subject of recrafting and material cost for oak bark-tanned soles, with Church apparently charging the same for recrafting with oak bark-tanned leather soles as cheaper soles, whatever they are called (experts chime in here, if you please).

 

Quote: Leather man
Church's is actually less money than C&J - they charge £85 and that figure is up to date. Even better they still charge £85 for shoes with Oak bark soles whereas C&J charge much more (I was told £150 - but I don't know if that is accurate).

 

Maybe the economy of scale comes into play for a large operation like Church.

post #90 of 171

^^^ Interesting - and thanks for digging that up.  But that is 1) retail price - cost to the consumer, for 2) resoling - which embraces both material and labor.

 

I am looking for cost to the manufacturer, on average, for material alone on a quality leather sole. Because it is the cost to them that would render the diminished cost of rubber as a significant benefit.  Or an insignificant one. I would be shocked indeed if that number was anywhere near the figures posted above.

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