Originally Posted by alladin
I was in C&J (London) today as their winter sale has started. Unfortunately, I didn't buy anything as what I liked was not in my size. The point I wanted to make was, I saw a cross section of their shoes and they use a piece of cardboard/paper under the shank!!!! WTF - I am paying a premium price for a pair of 'all leather' shoes and they use cardboard - not good. I also went into RM Williams and saw their construction cross section and they use a piece of moulded plastic under the shank. At least RM Williams does not claim to be a high end boot maker unlike C&J. I'd be interested to know if there is any logical reasoning for using cardboard in shoe making and if this practice is used by the other high end shoe makers - Edward Green and John Lobb. Also, is shoe construction using brass wire screws better than goodyear welted shoes? Comments appreciated, many thanks.
Well, to me that's one of those false economies that only underscore the shortsightedness of the factory mentality. These companies generate literally tons of scrap leather in a year. They've already paid for that leather. Yet for some reason they insist on buying a product that is clearly inferior simply to avoid the hassle of collecting and sorting the scraps (for size) and cutting them to fit the waist of the shoe. Admittedly the pennies per for the cardboard may actually save money when compared to the wages to process the scraps. And to be fair, some factories sell their scraps. But the cardboard is a degradation of the shoe. Especially when the shoe is nominally leather. The interesting thing, however, is that below an 8/8" heel height, no shank stiffener is required---at least that's the theory. I don't hold with it, myself, but I've heard it all my life. So they just fill in that area with a chunk of pressed cardboard called a "cottage." But again they could just as well fill the area in with the same cork they use for the forepart on Goodyear welted construction. But the cynical part of me suspects it would be too close to an outright admission that they have thrown out all pretense of traditional quality. Of course, the more discriminating owner already knows that. But then there are plenty of folks who don't want to know. The plastic cottage is usually bonded to a metal shank even if it is flimsy. But again it's there because the hassle of making a leather cottage is just too time consuming. Brass wire or brass screw construction is most often used in conjunction with Goodyear or Fairstitched construction. It is not generally used as the only means of attachment. And in my opinion, it should not be.