Originally Posted by dbhdnhdbh
Fair enough. The DO's I know consider that stuff an embarrassment, and never think about it unless someone else brings it up. As I said, they are doctors, not quacks.
So, back to shoe questions.
I don't buy expensive shoes because, well because they are expensive. I don't even bother to go to shops where they are sold and inspect them since that would waste the time of the salespeople when I know I am not going to buy.
Having revealed my ignorance of the finer things, and my plebian tastes, can someone tutor me: When shoe experts on this forum talk about "better leather", what does that mean? Setting aside horrible plastic coated CG, what are the properties of better leather? How would one recognize it? Is it inherently more expensive to produce, hence its use only in finer shoes? Does using better leather mean discarding, or selling to lesser brands, large portions of the material purchased from the tannery as only small parts of the hide are suitable for top quality shoes?
It seems that it does not necessarily mean more durable, as some on this thread have said that AE and Alden can last a long time.
Similarly, in this context, is the construction of top quality shoes different? I would have thought the construction would be different, but they do not appear all to be hand welted without gemming, which DWFII says is the only right way to make a shoe. In a Lobb shoe care video the demonstration of conditioning and shining was standard fare. However, between bits they cut to pictures of construction and I was struck by how much machining was involved.
If one of the experts, maker or simply afficianado, were to inspect a pair of unlabelled shoes made by a top bespoke maker, or perhaps OTR Lobbs, what would tell them that this was top quality merchandise? I am sure there are clues that would be obvious to an expert, what would they be?
The pictures on SF are nice to look at, but I cannot tell the difference between $300 and $3,000 shoes. (I pay well under $100 for used, but I can still look).
Just idle curiosity here. I am too cheap to buy such things, and too interested in remaining married. It may be a case of "you wouldn't understand", which I can accept, but it would be interesting to hear any explanations.
High-end shoes cost more for many reasons, and higher quality materials is one of the largest ones. While the looks of high quality leather are very important, the durability of high quality leather isn't disputable compared to cheap leather. There is plenty of data to support this. Here are some websites that you can read through:
Your comment about AE and Alden lasting a long time as evidence that leather quality isn't correlated with durability isn't accurate. AE and Alden do use high quality leathers. AE has been known to offer some corrected grain options, but they are the exception to the rule. Perhaps they are not as high quality as the $1,000+ brands, but the traits of high quality leather that is being discussed in the articles I posted above are going to be found in AE and Alden shoes just as they are in the $1,000+ shoes. The difference is that the more expensive brands utilize only the specific areas of the highest quality hides to make shoes just as wurger pointed out above.
The question about the construction of top quality shoes has been pretty much covered in the last couple of pages of this thread from the last week or so. Read through the posts regarding hand-welting, Goodyear-welting, and Blake/Rapid from the past week and see if that answers your question.
DWFII's stance on the shoe industry is a complex and loaded conversation. However, it isn't quite fair to say that he believes that hand-welting is the only right way to make a shoe. He is fully aware of the economic situation present in the shoe industry (though he laments it) and recognizes the value of different shoe types and constructions. He simply wants people to be aware of the fact that Goodyear-welted shoes are not the best option available. He is fully aware that most people can't afford to pay thousands of dollars for shoes. Where he gets frustrated is with people who do spend thousands of dollars on shoes (generally Goodyear-welted ones), believing that they are getting the best, when they aren't. He isn't referencing leather quality in these discussions generally speaking. He is referencing the welting techniques. There are people around here who have $30,000 worth of shoes, and not a single one of them are hand-welted. He is simply trying to say that if you have that kind of disposable income to spend on a product, you would be better off buying the best. His passion to preserve the history of shoe making and the argumentative/defensive responses that he often gets when discussing that brings out a more vehement stance that isn't fully representative of his basic opinion, I think. People are known to jump on him and get defensive of their $30,000 shoe collection at the mere notion that they aren't the best available, and the debate quickly gets heated up.
I think DWFII's stance on Goodyear-welted shoes can be summed up simply as this: They have their place. The different companies using that construction introduce different levels of quality and finishing to make their product more marketable, but they almost never impact the durability of the shoe. Rather, they simply make them more beautiful to look at, and more of a niche product that appeals to those with the money to spend on them. However, they rapidly approach the same cost as a pair of shoes that he could make himself but would be much better in construction, materials and durability. Therefore, they are fun to look at on the internet, but aren't worth the money to him. If you are strictly utilitarian driven in your shoe purchases, with highest regard for durability value for the money, I think he would say that you need to consider one of the brands that falls into the $300-500 price range (perhaps up to $700 if you are looking at shell cordovan. Anything above that is simply prettier to look at.
Edited by MoneyWellSpent - 7/1/13 at 8:16am