Originally Posted by DWFII
It's interesting...it would appear that in the last set of photos the shoe in question has a synthetic toe stiffener--celastic (a resin impregnated fabric) or some variation thereof. And if I'm seeing what I think I'm seeing, the heel stiffener may well be celastic, as well. I would add that while some drafting is being done by hand, it is only by the wildest stretch of the imagination that one could call these "hand lasted. I suspect that by this definition, if the worker were to make one pull on either side of the last...just to keep things centered, mind you...before popping the shoe in the lasting machine, we could call them "hand lasted." Maybe even "hand made." Why not? The real problem with all of this is not that the shoe isn't of adequate quality...for what it is...or that one cannot get reasonable service out of them, but rather that they are "imposters." They arrive with all the trappings...and price...of a quality shoe and yet it it's all a sham. As I mentioned in another thread...once a company resorts to expediencies such as gimping...synthetic toe and heel stiffeners are nearly inevitable. Next it will be corrected grain linings and fiberboard heels. We can define quality any way we want, I suppose. Who is to gainsay us? But I would submit that at a certain point the word "quality" loses all meaning when it comes to encompass the more salient aspects of mediocre. When everything we use and wear is pretending to be something it isn't we're all "lost in the masquerade"
I've done a large variety of metal fabrication and wood working projects, I've done things strictly by hand and have also used manually operated and computer operated machinery to complete similar tasks. With some things there is a dramatic difference between hand and machine, with others there is really no need to elongate the process simply for no other reason then to have it done by hand. In fact in many cases manually operated machinery does a much better job then doing it similarly by hand, with much better consistency. I propose that a combination of hand performed operations and manually operated machinery is going to be more consistently accurate and produce a better product than those done completely and entirely by hand and simple tooling. When applied to shoe making I'm sure that many of the hand-grade production operations narrow down that to the tasks to those that require the operation to be performed by hand, and I dont consider it a masquerade for doing so.