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deconstructed fashion plate

post #1 of 270
Thread Starter 
I found this to be a very interesting site even though I do not speak French ( another poster interpreted a little of the text)... http://www.depiedencap.eu/spip.php?rubrique43 (two pages of famous name shoes taken apart piece by piece, component by component and examined) All, with the exception of two models with cement sole construction, are gemmed...which, all by itself, should have earned them as much or more criticism as the toe stiffeners. Gemming is the cheapest method of construction (next to cement sole construction) and the most subject to break-down and degradation. Gemming is virtually the hallmark of Walmart grade quality.
post #2 of 270
Very enlightening.
post #3 of 270
For a passable translation, try this:

http://translate.google.com/translat...43&sl=fr&tl=en
post #4 of 270
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
I found this to be a very interesting site even though I do not speak French ( another poster interpreted a little of the text)...

http://www.depiedencap.eu/spip.php?rubrique43

(two pages of famous name shoes taken apart piece by piece, component by component and examined)

All, with the exception of two models with cement sole construction, are gemmed...which, all by itself, should have earned them as much or more criticism as the toe stiffeners.

Gemming is the cheapest method of construction (next to cement sole construction) and the most subject to break-down and degradation. Gemming is virtually the hallmark of Walmart grade quality.

DWFII,

I'm a member of that said forum, and have participated in a few of those deconstructions, we might have missed something, i.e. the gemming, will check with my fellows.
Thanks
post #5 of 270
DWFII,

I am not sure to fully understand and in order to improve our deconstruction methodology I would be grateful if you could explain what the gemming exactly is and how it differs from cememting.
post #6 of 270
Thank you for that link ... I just saw the JM weston one, and will see other before I comment.

For more clarity, you should copy-paste what you meant by gemming from the other thread ...
post #7 of 270
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajv View Post
DWFII, I am not sure to fully understand and in order to improve our deconstruction methodology I would be grateful if you could explain what the gemming exactly is and how it differs from cememting.
According to J.H Thornton there are 12 recognized methods of bottoming and attaching an outsole. Not all of them are applicable to high quality...or perhaps better to say...high priced shoes. Among the foremost is "Goodyear welted." (Parenthetically, no one, including myself, seems sure if this applies to hand inseamed as well as machine inseamed shoes). Shoemakers, trained in Traditional techniques, attach the welt directly to the insole in a process that cuts a channel into the insole and then hand stitches the welt to the leather "holdfast" that is created in the substance of the insole. Done properly this is the most secure and long lasting means of attaching welt. It will never compromise the fit and the welt can be replaced whenever wear or overzealous repair has left it too narrow to be usable. There are even machine techniques that can create the holdfast from the substance of the insole and the welt can subsequently be sewn, by machine, to it. All of this is, of course, predicated on a high quality insole with some thickness that can be incorporated into the inseam. But if done by hand, it takes time...far more time than almost any other production method...which is why it is almost never found in anything other that really high quality shoes (forget about price and the cache of brand name...I'm talking quality not $$'s). That said, there simply is no other method that creates a better, more stable shoe. Although to be fair, Blake/rapid probably comes close provided it is done with the same high quality materials. Gemming is a process that involves laying down a canvas rib around the perimeter of the under-surface of the insole. The rib is called gemming. And its purpose is to substitute for the leather holdfast...and to do it cheaply and quickly. It can be recognized by the white strip you see in most of those photos...sometimes "pinked" sometimes not. The gemming is cemented to the insole. That is the only thing holding it (and the shape of the shoe) in place. The welt is machine stitched to the gemming and the resultant insole cavity is filled with cork. Now, it bears repeating...in almost all instances, the gemming is held in place solely by cement. And that is its first weak spot. The cement will fail, probably even before the shoe is in need of a resole. When the cement fails the gemming slips and the shoe will walk out of shape. And anyone attempting to resole without the original last, faces the nearly impossible task of trying to re-position the gemming. Moreover, canvas is far more fragile than leather. If cotton canvas is used, it is subject to bacterial action--rot, in other words. Stitches pull through, the welt itself comes loose, and moisture and dirt enter the shoe. Gemming also frees the manufacturer to select thinner and cheaper grades of leather for the insole...or eschew leather altogether and use fiberboard insoles. Nothing visible, nothing immediately apparent will alert the customer to this further debasement of sound shoe technologies. Many manufacturers put a Poron or other cushion insole on top of the fiberboard insole and tout the whole as a "comfort" insole. If an insole is made of good leather it will last for literally decades. If the shoe is inseamed directly to the leather, the inseam...and therefore the shoe...has the potential to be worn frequently, repaired regularly and might still be passed onto the next generation. What is more, a leather insole will form a "footbed" under the foot that will ensure comfort for the life of the shoe. Gemming creates the need for cork filler. That cork is fugitive and will move away from pressure points. Insoles filled with cork are nearly always bare of cork under the ball of the foot. And if the insole is fiberboard or thin, poor quality leather, the insole itself may wear out (developing a hole)...it certainly will not provide any cushioning to the foot nor will it mold itself to the bottom of the foot. Gemming is the cheapest and quickest way to get a shoe together. It literally is the default method for bottoming on the cheapest (think $40.00 a pair) shoes on the market--think Walmart. Even cement construction is a better alternative simply because it is not masquerading as anything other than what it is--quick and easy...and ultimately short-lived. And everyone knows it--you cannot pass off a cement construction as a really high quality shoe.
post #8 of 270
^ Thank you. You explain extremely well.

To add to what DFWII said, I suggest watching this re-crafting video from Allen Edmonds. Pay special notice to step 4 and step 6 (they go by fast). You'll see the white canvas (?) gemming on the bottom of the sole that DFWII is talking about.

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post #9 of 270
Interesting.
post #10 of 270
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
Gemming is a process that involves laying down a canvas rib around the perimeter of the under-surface of the insole. The rib is called gemming. And its purpose is to substitute for the leather holdfast...and to do it cheaply and quickly. It can be recognized by the white strip you see in most of those photos...sometimes "pinked" sometimes not. The gemming is cemented to the insole. That is the only thing holding it (and the shape of the shoe) in place. The welt is machine stitched to the gemming and the resultant insole cavity is filled with cork.

Now, it bears repeating...in almost all instances, the gemming is held in place solely by cement. And that is its first weak spot. The cement will fail, probably even before the shoe is in need of a resole. When the cement fails the gemming slips and the shoe will walk out of shape. And anyone attempting to resole without the original last, faces the nearly impossible task of trying to re-position the gemming.

So what is the alternative to cementing? Stitching?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
Moreover, canvas is far more fragile than leather. If cotton canvas is used, it is subject to bacterial action--rot, in other words. Stitches pull through, the welt itself comes loose, and moisture and dirt enter the shoe.

Gemming also frees the manufacturer to select thinner and cheaper grades of leather for the insole...or eschew leather altogether and use fiberboard insoles. Nothing visible, nothing immediately apparent will alert the customer to this further debasement of sound shoe technologies. Many manufacturers put a Poron or other cushion insole on top of the fiberboard insole and tout the whole as a "comfort" insole.

I don't understand this part ... how does the choice to use canvas gemming has anything to do woth the thickness of insole leather?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
If an insole is made of good leather it will last for literally decades. If the shoe is inseamed directly to the leather, the inseam...and therefore the shoe...has the potential to be worn frequently, repaired regularly and might still be passed onto the next generation. What is more, a leather insole will form a "footbed" under the foot that will ensure comfort for the life of the shoe.

Gemming creates the need for cork filler. That cork is fugitive and will move away from pressure points. Insoles filled with cork are nearly always bare of cork under the ball of the foot. And if the insole is fiberboard or thin, poor quality leather, the insole itself may wear out (developing a hole)...it certainly will not provide any cushioning to the foot nor will it mold itself to the bottom of the foot.

So if we use a leather "holdfast", there is no need for cork, as such - kind of like Blake/rapid, in that sense?
post #11 of 270
Quote:
Originally Posted by srivats View Post
So what is the alternative to cementing? Stitching?



I don't understand this part ... how does the choice to use canvas gemming has anything to do woth the thickness of insole leather?



So if we use a leather "holdfast", there is no need for cork, as such - kind of like Blake/rapid, in that sense?

As I understand it, without the gemming, a better choice is to use a top-quality THICK piece of insole leather, and sew directly unto it.

(correct me if wrong)
post #12 of 270
Quote:
Originally Posted by lee_44106 View Post
As I understand it, without the gemming, a better choice is to use a top-quality THICK piece of insole leather, and sew directly unto it.

(correct me if wrong)

I thought so, but was not sure ... that is why I asked. Also, doing what you suggest above means no need for cork, as in blake/rapid which I what I mentioned earlier.
post #13 of 270
By the way,

I remember in Laslo Vass's excellent shoe book that he mentioned something similar to what DWFII said, that "handmade" shoes do not have that gemming.

I don't think he used the term "gemming" though.
post #14 of 270
Thank you DFWII,

Your explanations are very clear and I know now what you are talking about and what we call it in french.
I shall check with one of the shoe-maker that is often present during the deconstructions, as I'll see him tomorrow, about the gemming on the pairs that have undergone the surgery.
post #15 of 270
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by srivats View Post
So what is the alternative to cementing? Stitching?
I've seen the gemming sewn to an insole...but several problems arise there: the machine to sew inside the shoe...shall it be as heavy (and expensive) as the machine used to do blake/rapid? Why not just do blake/rapid, then? If it is not going to be that heavy, then the insole must be thinner just to allow the sewing to be done at all. And since it is being done into the canvas gemming, it suffers the same deficiency as the inseam stitching itself--it depends on the strength of the canvas for any sort of integrity at all.
Quote:
I don't understand this part ... how does the choice to use canvas gemming has anything to do woth the thickness of insole leather?
If the inseam is not sewn to the insole, the insole doesn't need to be thick, it doesn't even need to be leather. And thinner is cheaper and fiberboard cheaper yet. Goes back to an earlier essay...once you make the decision to do away with more expensive techniques and materials (and workers) in pursuit of the bottom line, all subsequent decisions flow from there as naturally as water running down hill. You can almost predict the next step from putatively high quality to low in the life of the company.
Quote:
So if we use a leather "holdfast", there is no need for cork, as such - kind of like Blake/rapid, in that sense?
Yes, that's correct.
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