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Thriftin for Nice Shoes

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone. I'm making my first post; this is the first question I've had that I couldnt find in another thread (if it is a repeat, I apologize).

So I'm looking for a quality pair of casual leather shoes, but don't have the means to buy new. My question is: What makes a quality shoe? No brands, prices, makes, models, etc to go on. What aspects of craftmanship make a shoe worthy of your foot?

Thanks!
post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by msza View Post
Hey everyone. I'm making my first post; this is the first question I've had that I couldnt find in another thread (if it is a repeat, I apologize).

So I'm looking for a quality pair of casual leather shoes, but don't have the means to buy new. My question is: What makes a quality shoe? No brands, prices, makes, models, etc to go on. What aspects of craftmanship make a shoe worthy of your foot?

Thanks!

I'll save you the hassle and tell you as I'm new too, you need to move this to the 'ask a question' thread that's pinned at the top.
post #3 of 14
The three basics I'd look for are 1) soles that have been stitched rather than glued, 2) interiors that are unlined or leather lined, and 3) good fit. Eventually, you should get to know: 1) the difference between types of sole stitching (blake, blake-rapid, goodyear welted, etc.), 2) the difference between calfskin and pigskin lining, 3) the difference between corrected grain and whole grain leather. 4) various good quality makers/brands For these last four things, I strongly suggest you do searches here and pay particular attn. to posts by RIDER, Bengalstripe, A Harris, and others.
post #4 of 14
If you are actually "thrifting" for good shoes.... I would look for shoes that are made by 1) Allen Edmonds or 2) Brooks Brothers. Brooks brothers don't actually make shoes as they have several companies make shoes under their name, however for the most part the dress shoes that are branded BB are of good quality. Of course there are other brands but I think those two were the ones I'd most likely find in thrift stores that are "good shoes."

Otherwise look for goodyear welted soles, and if you can determine the difference between calf leather and shell cordovan, that's a big plus.
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by MiniW View Post
If you are actually "thrifting" for good shoes.... I would look for shoes that are made by 1) Allen Edmonds or 2) Brooks Brothers. Brooks brothers don't actually make shoes as they have several companies make shoes under their name, however for the most part the dress shoes that are branded BB are of good quality. Of course there are other brands but I think those two were the ones I'd most likely find in thrift stores that are "good shoes." Otherwise look for goodyear welted soles, and if you can determine the difference between calf leather and shell cordovan, that's a big plus.
Good advise in this post and the previous one. To tell calf and shell cordovan apart, look at the creases in the used shoes. Shell cordovan doesn't have micro creases inside the bigger creases. Calf is likely to. Telling whole grain from corrected grain leather can sometimes be a bit tricky when the shoes are new, but for used shoes it usually becomes apparent as the corrected grain usually looks plasticky and like it is kind of cracked. With Goodyear welting, you can see the stitching the holds on the soles around the outer edge of the sole (outside the shoe). Blake rapid stitching can be seen on the bottom and the inside (if you can see the footbed in the front) [full disclosure: I'm actually not super knowledgeable on the Blake/Blake rapid difference]. With respect to brands, Allen Edmonds and Brooks Brothers shoes are usually good. The best shoes I've picked up thrifting have been a few nice pairs of Church's. I run into Aldens every once in a while. When thrifting, I wouldn't be afraid to pick up a pair of nice looking Johnson and Murphys or Florscheims for three reasons: 1. They were better quality in the past and often you run into these models. 2. The main complaint (at least about J & M) is inconsistency, with some shoes lasting forever and some falling apart in a month. When you're thrifting, you get to see them with a bit of wear and can judge which category they fall into pretty easily. 3. They're cheap. No problem with taking a chance spending $8 and wearing them a few times if you like the style, then upgrading when you find something better. Edit: Also, if you're going to make a habit out of thrifting shoes, it would probably pay to drop 20 bucks or so on a shoe stretcher. It can make a pair of shoes that are just to small or just to tight in a certain place fit perfectly.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the great advice. I was able to ID some of the recommended brands and stitchings today. None in my size, but I'm confident that they will turn up will a little patience. Will put questions of this sort in the Ask a Question thread from now on.
post #7 of 14
This actually seems like a legitamite question that deserves a thread, and it has spurred a few quality responses. Interesting, I didn't know they sold shoe stretchers, I may need one of those.
post #8 of 14
BTW, if you actually have access to great thrift stores that are not super-picked over, and are going through the hassle of looking for good shoes for yourself anyways, I recommend just picking up all those Brooks Brothers and Allen Edmonds no matter what size they are (assuming they are no more than $10-$15 per pair), and start selling them on the supermarket or ebay for a bit of spare cash. As long as there are no holes in them or some other cause to make them unwearable, it's a nice hobby and not a bad way to learn more about shoes and make some money at the same time.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptym View Post
The three basics I'd look for are
1) soles that have been stitched rather than glued,
2) interiors that are unlined or leather lined, and
3) good fit.

Eventually, you should get to know:
1) the difference between types of sole stitching (blake, blake-rapid, goodyear welted, etc.),
2) the difference between calfskin and pigskin lining,
3) the difference between corrected grain and whole grain leather.
4) various good quality makers/brands

For these last four things, I strongly suggest you do searches here and pay particular attn. to posts by RIDER, Bengalstripe, A Harris, and others.

this is great info thank you
post #10 of 14
So what would be the best way to clean a pair of used dress shoes so to not get foot germs from the previous owner?
post #11 of 14
wear socks.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Desi View Post
So what would be the best way to clean a pair of used dress shoes so to not get foot germs from the previous owner?

Lysol spray handles this nicely. A quick spritz and an overnight drying will do the job.

I've thrifted dozens of pairs of shoes, from vintage Edward Green's for Brooks Brothers to brand new, never worn John Lobbs. When you start to learn the finer points of identifying quality shoes, thrifting turns into a bit of a treasure hunt and, in my case, a fun little hobby.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonylumpkin View Post
Lysol spray handles this nicely. A quick spritz and an overnight drying will do the job.

I've thrifted dozens of pairs of shoes, from vintage Edward Green's for Brooks Brothers to brand new, never worn John Lobbs. When you start to learn the finer points of identifying quality shoes, thrifting turns into a bit of a treasure hunt and, in my case, a fun little hobby.

tonylupkin is to thrifting fine shoes as Tiger Woods is to golf. In a class by himself.

I still remember when he first came around and he thrifted a brand new pair of John Lobbs ( Moras I think ). I doubted him but never again.

If I ever do thrift for shoes ( I haven't yet ), I'm going to call my first pair of longwing gunboats or anything with a V-cleat, my "tonylumpkins".

To the OP. All good advice above. One thing I would add is make sure that they fit you well. Unless you plan to resell your thrifted shoes, or wear shoes that are uncomfortable why thrift a pair of ill fitting shoes.

Second, I doubt you'll find many Edward Greens or John Lobbs. But you should be able to find Alan Edmonds or JMs. A nice well fitting, excellent pair of either would be a reasonable and nice find.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Yes, the advice in this thread has been great.

I was able to pick up a pair of brown leather (calf, I think) blake-stitched J. Crew derbies for $8. I know J Crews aren't super nice, but definately out of my current budget, and these particular shoes were perfect for my personal aesthetic. They were a little tight at first, but wearing them around the house with 4 pairs of socks for a couple hours fixed that right up.
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