In an ideal world the shoe tree will be an exact copy of the last the shoe was made on. The shoe trees will be just a tiny bit smaller than the last and will be modified to be inserted easily: either 3-piece or hinged, but not with springs as the length need not be adjusted. The absolutely correct shoe tree will only happen with bespoke shoes where (usually) the trees are included in the price of the shoes. Commercial (generic) shoe trees usually have a spring mechanism of one kind or another to adjust them (within reason) to more than one last design. Even a particular manufacturer's trees are only approximations as all makers have different lasts (some more rounded, some more pointed) to go with the style of a particular design. Whether or not you need the tree of a particular maker is a question you have to decide. Admittedly it looks nice to have the matching name to go with the shoes, but generic shoetrees, provided they fit, will work just the same. Making shoetrees is quite a specialised field; so all American trees come from either Rochester or Woodlore, no matter what manufacturer's name is on the tree. The same thing might apply to European shoetrees, both John Lobb and Edward Green trees are made in France, employ the same double spring mechanism and in all probability are made by the same company. The heelpiece varies: John Lobb has a finger hole while Edward Green employs a brass knob. The nicest shoe trees come from Codonnerie anglaise http://www.lca-international.com/ns/index.asp who might have their own production, but who also might buy them at the same source. I checked today's prices here in London: John Lobb Â£ 55.00 (available in full sizes only) and Edward Green Â£ 45.00 (full and half sizes). That brings it to a similar price than Lattanzi who, according to pictures, have a nice lever mechanism. Quite reasonable priced, I presume a Lattanzi polishing cloth will cost $ 25.00 while that same cloth from Walmart (of course without the name) will cost $0.25. Additionally Edward Green can take special orders for those Ralph Lauren type shoetrees (Â£ 80-90.00). They are the nearest thing to bespoke trees as they are copies of the original last, so the shoetrees for last 606 will be different from the ones for last 808. You mentioned that you don't like the finish, but, as they are made to order, it might be possible to order them unvarnished or just waxed or even in a different wood. Last thing: there is no need to have a tree for every shoe and keep your shoes on trees all the time. Once the shoe has dried the leather has shrunk and the soles are straightened you can take them off until the shoe are worn the next time.
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9/8/03 at 9:26am