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Vass shoes from a harris

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I participated in A Harris's special offer for Vass shoes last October, and I finally got the shoes last week. I thought that I would post my reactions and some pictures here for those of you who might be interested. First, the shoes. Because I have very little resistance when it comes to shoes, I purchased both the Budapest and the Oxford Medallion models. The Budapests were on the Budapest last in Antic Cognac calf (it's a sort of medium brown with a slight red tinge -- a little darker than the color that JM Weston calls tan) with double leather soles and a steel plate at the toe of the sole. Here's a photo. Pictures really don't do this shoe on this last justice: they usually make the shoe look distinctive but clunky, and that's certainly not the case. It's certainly distinctive, but it's also very elegant. I momentarily panicked when I tried to put them on for the first time until I realized that they had six eyelets instead of five and that I would have to loosen the laces a bit more than usual. The fit is very good overall, although I wish that they were a touch wider. The shoes wear well and don't fatigue my feet. The quality of construction and materials is obviously very high, and I imagine that the shoes will develop quite an attractive patina over time. I'm also very impressed with the trees. Aside from the three-piece trees in the Oxford Medallions, they are the finest that I've ever seen. The Oxford Medallions were on the U last in Cognac calf (paler and oranger than EG's Edwardian Antique color) with single leather soles bevelled at the waist and a row of brass brads at the toe. Here's a photo. I was concerned about these because of the long and narrow nature of the U last, but it turns out that my concerns were without foundation. The shoes fit wonderfully. I like the toe shape very much (Edward Green's 808 last is my favorite, and I ordered a pair of Cleverley bespoke shoes largely because of the shape of the typical Cleverley last), and I've always been an admirer of the bevelled waist. Apparently, the front part of my foot sits a little bit higher than normal, and this caused the vamp of the shoe not to sit as smoothly as I could have wished; this is a problem that I have with a lot of Italian shoes, and in my mind, it's very minor: I doubt that anyone other than I ever noticed it. The finish on the shoes is superlative: it manages to be high-shine without looking like plastic, which you don't see very often. Like the Budapests, the shoes wear well and don't fatigue my feet. I'm extremely impressed by the three-piece shoe trees. Those could retail for $150 or $175 just by themselves. I think that you can gauge my satisfaction my the relative pettiness of my criticisms: I wish that the shoes had a half sock liner rather than a full one (I like to see the insole), I would have preferred for the soles to be stained a deeper golden tan like British makers do, and I would have liked the tongues on the Oxford Medallion shoes to be sewn to the quarter a la Edward Green. Gabor says that the full sock liner is done because half liners are sometimes prone to peeling back and that Mr. Vass believes that darker tan soles look worse when worn than ones stained the color that Vass uses. Oh well, reasonable people can disagree. I'm also impressed by the quality of service that A Harris and the Vass US managing director Gabor Halmos provided me. A Harris got the size of both pairs of shoes just right (and they were different sizes) without ever having seen my feet or me trying on any shoes, and the communication about my order and when it would arrive was very good. It took a while to get the shoes, but that's the way these things go sometimes: these are handmade shoes made one pair at a time to order, and the factory operates on its own schedule rather than mine. FWIW, I recommend Vass shoes highly. You would do well to seek them out at Fairfield Clothiers or Louis Boston (or any of the other dozens of stores that A Harris will sell them to in the next few weeks.
post #2 of 25
The Oxford medallions are absolutely gorgeous. I can't wait to see those shoes in person for myself at Louis Boston
post #3 of 25
They look absolutely stunning and I'm sure they were worth the wait.
post #4 of 25
Thanks for posting the pics; the shoes look great. If all goes to plan, I shall be heading to Budapest at Easter, and am planning to have some shoes made by Vass.
post #5 of 25
Excuse my ignorance, but what do you mean when you say you would have preferred that the tongue be "sewn to the quarter"?
post #6 of 25
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post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
The Oxford medallions are absolutely gorgeous. I can't wait to see those shoes in person for myself at Louis Boston
I may be mistaken, but I believe that although Louis has at least one of the new-style models on the U last, they don't have the Oxford Medallion. But A Harris can certainly confirm or deny.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Excuse my ignorance, but what do you mean when you say you would have preferred that the tongue be "sewn to the quarter"?
That might not have been the correct expression. The tongues in balmorals are a separate piece of leather that is sewn to the vamp of the shoe. As such, they tend to droop down when neither your foot nor the tree is in the shoe, as is the case, for instance, when you're about to put the shoe on. Edward Green and some other makers will sew one side of the tongue to the lining near the laces to prevent this drooping from happening.
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I bought a pair of full brogues, on the U last (the same last as jcusey's Oxford Medallions), in red-brown shell cordovan. ... If I knew how to host pictures, I would post some.
Is that the shell cordovan color that Alden of Carmel calls cigar? As for the pictures, what I've done (at the recommendation of an august forum participant) is to set up an account on the Hewlett-Packard photo site. You can use a junk Yahoo or Hotmail e-mail address to register if you like. It lets you upload up to 100 MB of digital pictures, and it will generate links to those pictures.
post #10 of 25
Nice shoes jcusey.. How do these compare in terms of quality/workmanship to E.Greens, C&J Handgrades, or your Perry Westons? How about to your Cleverleys?
post #11 of 25
Andrew: If you're reading this... I want mine NOW (drool).
post #12 of 25
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post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
How do these compare in terms of quality/workmanship to E.Greens, C&J Handgrades, or your Perry Westons? How about to your Cleverleys?
I don't have the Cleverleys in hand (or on foot, as it were) yet. I ordered them last fall, and I'm due for the fitting this spring. EG, C&J Handgrade, Perry JM Weston, and Vass are all great shoes. There isn't a whole lot of difference in the externally visible details. Some of the finer points of workmanship would be difficult to know about unless you saw the shoes being made. Some differences that I have seen or otherwise know about: 1. EG and C&J use a glued-on linen feather. Vass uses a feather carved into the insole. JM Weston's website would indicate that they use the carved feather, but I'm not sure that I believe them except for the Hunt shoe. I've never seen any empirical comparisons, but I would think that the carved feather is superior. 2. All of these makes have channelled soles. The English makers do a better job than either JM Weston or Vass in closing the channel so that it's invisible. EG does a slightly better job than C&J, and Vass does a better job than JM Weston. 3. The leather on the English makes is slightly different from the leather on JM Weston shoes, and all are different from that on the Vass shoes. It's difficult to describe the difference in words, but each has a different feel and smell. I don't think that the differences have any bearing on quality. 4. EG, C&J, and JM Weston all use leather or beech shanks. Vass uses steel. Aside from Vass shoes being more likely to set of airport metal detectors, I don't think that the difference in materials has much bearing on quality. 5. EG and C&J both use antique finishes (with EG's antique finish being superior to C&J's). JM Weston and Vass do not. I like the antique finish, but that's just a personal preference. In terms of the intrinsic quality of the finish, EG, C&J, JM Weston, and the regular Vasses are all quite similar. The finish on the U last Vasses is superior to all four. 6. The interior finishing of the Vass shoes is slightly superior to the others. EG and JM Weston are very similar, and C&J brings up the rear (I've had some trouble with bubbling and alignment on the sock liner), but only by a small margin. 7. Vass shoes are hand-welted, while EG and C&J are machine welted. JM Weston is a bit more of a mystery. I know that the Hunt shoe is hand-welted, but based on the price, I would think that the others are machine welted. In any event, I'm not sure what practical benefit hand welting has, but it certainly is more labor-intensive. It really is hard to make direct comparisons. EG and C&J both aspire to the same aesthetic, and EG clearly does a better job. Vass and JM Weston both fill different niches from the English makers and from each other. There's plenty of room for all of them.
post #14 of 25
Quote:
2. All of these makes have channelled soles. The English makers do a better job than either JM Weston or Vass in closing the channel so that it's invisible. EG does a slightly better job than C&J, and Vass does a better job than JM Weston.
If I am not mistaken, Lobb and Edward Green cover the closed channel with a layer of leather, that makes it invisible.
post #15 of 25
Mr. Harris: Please see my Email. I want in on your generious offer.
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