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Grenson Handgrade? - Page 2

post #16 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by kev777 View Post


??? So what do you suggest instead ? More exclusive more upmarket more handwork your flying in the face of literally years of tradition with Old English shoe manufacturers with, again, years of combined experience. Your asking them to change ? to what?

Actually the Tradition among English shoemakers is hand welted. GY may go back to the early 20th century but hand welted goes back to the 1500's.

That said, it has long been my contention that once a company makes the compromises necessary to do Goodyear construction, they will never regain the level of quality that has characterized the best makers (English makers) for literally centuries. And while they might ride their name for decades, they become essentially irrelevant.
post #17 of 66
I get that DWF but could the manufacturers of Northampton et al go back to "hand welted" without there being a considerable hike in price? Arent those types of shoes ie the hand welted even more aimed at a specialised market and therefore an even smaller proportion of their sales? Some may have heard of Goodyear Welted and as Tim Little has said previously most wont pay £250 for a pair of shoes its unthinkable. We here are a very very select few as regards the overall market and would that few pay more for handwelted or as im asking you would there have to be an increase in price ???

Your comments and insight is, as always, gratefully received.
post #18 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by kev777 View Post

I get that DWF but could the manufacturers of Northampton et al go back to "hand welted" without there being a considerable hike in price? Arent those types of shoes ie the hand welted even more aimed at a specialised market and therefore an even smaller proportion of their sales? Some may have heard of Goodyear Welted and as Tim Little has said previously most wont pay £250 for a pair of shoes its unthinkable. We here are a very very select few as regards the overall market and would that few pay more for handwelted or as im asking you would there have to be an increase in price ???

Your comments and insight is, as always, gratefully received.

No, you're right. I was just objecting to the characterization of GY as "Traditional." It most certainly is the default, however.

And it's not just a spurious objection...unless we are all willing to admit our deliberate ignorance and indifference. For individuals pursuing elegance and grace and "style," indifference is deadly. Education and understanding, on the other hand are the keys to excellence in any endeavor.

So...my point is that whether you are OK with GY because you know the difference and just don't put enough of a priority on the quality of a shoe or whether you don't know why one brand is priced higher or even if it really should be priced higher, knowledge is critical.

Understanding that the Tradition is not Goodyear is a beginning.

And bottom line, no manufacturer will go back...they literally cannot go back... because to do so they would lose their market share--their niche.
post #19 of 66

The "Goodyear" process was invented in 1871 as a result of the "Industrial Revolution". Before this shoes were made by hand using various methods. "Hand-sewn welted" was a very exclusive method and not for the ordinary "everyday" person. When talking of the industry before mechanization, one must remember that footwear wasn't purchased at a retailer as we know it, instead you would visit a local shoemaker. This was the same as visiting a Baker, Tailor, Wig-maker, Candlestick maker etc.

The main manufacturers we now talk about - C&J, Sargent, Trickers, Church’s et al, were established as a result of mechanization and the Industrial Revolution.

Since the World Wars some manufacturers found it necessary to "cut corners" in order to remain competitive. Some brought uppers ready made from India, China or Eastern Europe or, even worse, sourcing completely foreign made shoes. These being retailed under the same brand gave the impression of being "authentic"...I brought them from X, Y or Z so they must be English!”

Nowadays amongst the quality firms there is a strong belief and determination that 100% English, and more importantly made "in house", is the only way to produce the finest footwear. C&J, Trickers, Church, Cheaney, Edward Green and J.L are some that follow this.

I had to smile at Mr. Little’s comment –

Quote:
Originally Posted by kev777 View Post

made 100% in our factory the old way - ask other factories if they can guarantee this!


 

       .......I have no doubt that are two thirds of Northamptonshire manufacturers could easily surpass Grenson's current shoe making abilities!!  


 

 

post #20 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mean-Forme View Post

  Before this shoes were made by hand using various methods. "Hand-sewn welted" was a very exclusive method and not for the ordinary "everyday" person.     .......I have no doubt that are two thirds of Northamptonshire manufacturers could easily surpass Grenson's current shoe making abilities!!

Before 1871, there were any number of methods for bottoming a shoe (still are), but the primary method of sewn construction was hand welting. (Either Plucknett or Thornton) Just as GY welting is the primary sewn construction today.

Having said that, someone recently posted that brand A was "objectively" better than brand B but that brand A was not worth the money. All I can do is wonder what "objectively" means.

Some will tout better leather. Calfskin being the holy grail among the 'leatheratti."

I've been making shoes and boots for 40 years and I seriously doubt that even the connoisseur of bespoke shoes could delineate the "objective" differences between two pieces of calf.

How many could tell the difference between a veg tanned calf or a chrome tanned calf...on sight? Or speak to the quality and the characteristics of each tannage and what makes one superior to the other. Nevermind "objectively" rating how much better. Yet Brand A is touted as having superior leathers. How much better? 10%? 20%?...2%?

Calfskin is a whole lot of different things...from good to bad; from finished to aniline dyed. From milled to boxed.

I do believe that Brand A uses superior leathers, don't get me wrong. But are the leathers they are using as good as they were in 1880? The stark and objective answer is "no'...a resounding "No."

Why? Because the leathers are not there anymore. Why? Because the demand isn't there anymore. Why? Because the manufacturers have cut corners...in every corner...steadily since the Industrial Revolution and hence don't need, don't wish, to invest in quality leathers. Why? Because the customer doesn't know or care to know.

Because you can't meet your historical profit margins if your cost of production is going up.

June Swann tells the story of collecting boots sewn at "64 to the inch' --on the uppers as well as the bottoms (welt and soles). In discussions with her input on the Crispin Colloquy, she has said it can no longer be done simply because the quality of the leather has so declined since that kind of prize-work was seen. Mind, prize work was always one-offs and there were never special leathers tanned for such work. It was all just better quality leather.

Think about the implications...

Is Brand A...even given the refinement of the finishing and the exactitude of the stitching...500% better than brand B if they are virtually identical in terms of construction techniques and the quality of the leathers only 10% better?

Goodyear pretends to be what it is not--equivalent to hand welting.
Edited by DWFII - 8/2/11 at 5:36am
post #21 of 66
yes I would love to see one or two English makers go hand lasted and welted - and even handstitched uppers, why not? if the leathers are available - but I guess it's unlikely to be a profitable venture given 1. the sums don't add up with wages being what they are in GB and 2. there's just not enough of a shoe cognescenti to support artisan production like that on any scale.
post #22 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pliny View Post

yes I would love to see one or two English makers go hand lasted and welted - and even handstitched uppers, why not? if the leathers are available - but I guess it's unlikely to be a profitable venture given 1. the sums don't add up with wages being what they are in GB and 2. there's just not enough of a shoe cognescenti to support artisan production like that on any scale.


I wonder...think Lobbs St James.

On the other hand...and part and parcel of what I was alluding to above...most of the highly touted manufacturers are competing for low end (read uneducated & indifferent) customers...not the cognoscenti. I mean if there is only a 2-20% difference in the quality of upper leathers between high-end RTW and really low-end RTW (retail @$200.00+) and no differences to speak of in construction techniques, then there is no significant difference in quality between high end and low end shoes. So the question then becomes why the difference in price?

If manufacturers wanted the custom of the cognoscenti, they'd do things differently. But except for the odd holdouts such as Lobbs and the few bespoke makers, most companies have written off the knowledgeable buyer or, through marketing hype, try to fool them into thinking a factory made shoe is equivalent to a hand-made shoe. So from top to bottom, factories fundamentally are presenting the same product, regardless of price, and appealing to the same market. What is really being sold is cachet or blue sky.

The other interesting thing is that not only is there a downward pressure on prices and quality among all manufacturers at every level, there is also an upward pressure on prices (and quality) on bespoke makers. Think about that. If a cachet brand can charge upwards of $1k for a GY shoe and get it, the bespoke maker has a hard time not charging double or even triple for a hand-lasted, hand welted shoe. Especially in a market where the customer is so ignorant and so brand conscious.

There's and old saying that was originally applied to Americans but which, I suspect, is nearly universal in this context: "Americans know the price of everything and the value of nothing."
Edited by DWFII - 8/2/11 at 7:42pm
post #23 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

On the other hand...and part and parcel of what I was alluding to above...most of the highly touted manufacturers are competing for low end (read uneducated & indifferent) customers...not the cognoscenti. I mean if there is only a 2-20% difference in the quality of upper leathers between high-end RTW and really low-end RTW (retail @$200.00+) and no differences to speak of in construction techniques, then there is no significant difference in quality between high end and low end shoes. So the question then becomes why the difference in price?

I would guess that leather that is 20% better would cost much more than 20% more for the manufacturer purely from a demand and supply viewpoint, and it's this cost that is reflected in the final price of the shoes.

Also, have you seen, handled or worn high-end and low-end RTW shoes? Seriously, the difference is like night and day and, to use your words, it really would take an uneducated and indifferent customer to not recognise this.

Do you think there's no cost involved in coming up with new shoe designs, with coming up with new lasts that look nice and fit well at the same time? And as you said in the G&G thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

I love G&G for their styling, finish and refinement.

- do you think G&G shouldn't be charging for this styling, finish and refinement?

If you want to criticise differences in pricing for the same product, what about differences in pricing between makers for handmade bespoke shoes? Aren't the construction techniques the same here too? Why does Lobb St James charge so much more than Cleverley and Foster & Son?
post #24 of 66
All this talk is good and fine but why the hell is nobody buying my wonderful shoes biggrin.gif:D:D

You bastards. I hate customers. especially when I get none
post #25 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by TKDKid View Post


I would guess that leather that is 20% better would cost much more than 20% more for the manufacturer purely from a demand and supply viewpoint, and it's this cost that is reflected in the final price of the shoes.

And that's why leather quality across the board has gone down over the years.
Quote:
Also, have you seen, handled or worn high-end and low-end RTW shoes? Seriously, the difference is like night and day and, to use your words, it really would take an uneducated and indifferent customer to not recognise this.

I've not only seen and handled high-end/low-end, I've torn them apart, analyzed their construction techniques and materials. What's more, I actually make shoes and boots and have done for 40+ years. As a full time career. Additionally, I actually own a copy of nearly every major work written in the last 200 years about making shoes, have read many of them...and converted some of the more important ones into digital format. I created and administer a discussion forum for bespoke boot and shoemakers for my Trade guild.

How about you? What informs your opinions?
Quote:
Do you think there's no cost involved in coming up with new shoe designs, with coming up with new lasts that look nice and fit well at the same time?

- do you think G&G shouldn't be charging for this styling, finish and refinement?

Of course, but it's not substantive nor does it affect quality. We all have our own individual aesthetic sensibilities. Some like G&G, some don't. Again, what you're paying for there is blue sky in some respects. I'm not saying you shouldn't...I'm saying you need to know and understand the implications of that aspect of it.

Trouble is, as I mentioned in another post, most people couldn't tell the difference between a veg calf and a chrome calf, or for that matter, a calf versus a cowhide, nevermind a good calf vs. a mediocre calf.

So tell me again what are you are paying for.
Quote:
If you want to criticise differences in pricing for the same product, what about differences in pricing between makers for handmade bespoke shoes? Aren't the construction techniques the same here too? Why does Lobb St James charge so much more than Cleverley and Foster & Son?

Lobbs St. James hand welts, for starters. AFAIK, none of the others big name houses do...including those you mentioned. I had this discussion some weeks/months ago with another fellow about the same issue. When I mentioned hand welting and the lack thereof, he said he'd check with the company rep and get back to me. I suspect he got an answer that didn't square with his original assertions...as I never heard from him again.

And yes, bespoke makers not only price according to the cachet that their particular firm has accrued over the years, but again...as I explicitly stated in the above post...in response to upward price pressures from overpriced RTW.

I suspect that most bespoke makers, as long as they are not in a high rent district or under economic pressures of a high cost of living index, don't have kids, don't expect a yearly vacation snorkeling on the Mexican Riviera, or a wardrobe anywhere near what their customers take for granted, could make a fairly good living at prices comparable to no more than half again the highest end RTW prices and still offer far better workmanship, construction techniques, and materials.

From there, some raise their prices to separate themselves from the RTW manufacturers in the only language that the consumer understands--price. In other words, to paraphrase another old saw: "If you value your work low, the customer will too."

Others raise their prices to reflect extraordinary skill and talent. Others just because their market is so thin and their product so much more arduous to produce and the materials so rare that a premium is almost a necessity. Because whether the factory is buying truly premium calf or not, buying by the trainload confers a price break that the bespoke maker can only dream of.

Finally, if you read my post for comprehension, you see that it is as much about the attitudes of those who tout and defend and buy into the hype of cachet brands as it is substantive differences between manufacturers or even manufacturers vs. bespoke makers.
post #26 of 66
I suspect that JL St James charges so much more than Foster, G&G bespoke and Cleverly simply because they can. 'The most beautiful shoe shop in the world' and royal warrants give them a lot of cachet . I could be wrong, but I also seem to remember seeing on a youtube vid that they do all their work at the St James premises (no outworking and division of labor) and use no electrically powered machines. Their upper sewing is done on an ancient treadle. Also the most prestigious place for a student . Yohei Fukuda trained there, and his stuff is just out of this world good.
post #27 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by TKDKid View Post

Why does Lobb St James charge so much more than Cleverley and Foster & Son?
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Lobbs St. James hand welts, for starters. AFAIK, none of the others big name houses do...including those you mentioned.

So does every other bespoke West-End shoemaker.

All the bespoke shoes are made to 'West-End standard', which means they are made over an individual client last (not a fitted-up. already existing last), utilize individual patterns, the closing is done in reference to the particular last, the shoes are hand-lasted, hand-welted (not ball to ball), have a hand-stitched sole and are finished by hand, with not even rotary sander in sight.

Cleverley and Foster (and G&G) also offer ready-to-wear (factory-made) shoes, which, of course, are made differently. They have to offer them, as it pays the rent. JL(London) does not offer RTW, but they get a nice, fat royalty for every gemmed pair made by JL(Paris) in Northampton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pliny View Post

............they do all their work at the St James premises (no outworking and division of labor).

John Lobb (London) uses outworkers, just as every other West-End shoemaker.

All the outworkers come from the same pool and no outworker works exclusive for just one firm. In the UK that pool is made-up from maybe ten bespoke 'closers' and maybe four dozen 'makers' ("It takes one closer to keep four or five makers in work.")
post #28 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe View Post


So does every other bespoke West-End shoemaker.

All the bespoke shoes are made to 'West-End standard', which means they are made over an individual client last (not a fitted-up. already existing last), utilize individual patterns, the closing is done in reference to the particular last, the shoes are hand-lasted, hand-welted (not ball to ball), have a hand-stitched sole and are finished by hand, with not even rotary sander in sight.

Interesting, if true...and I've little reason to doubt it.

I'm glad to know it, too, and and would have assumed it right from the get-go.

However, IIRC, somewhere on this forum there is a photo of a customer trying on a "fitter's model" for a pair of bespoke shoes in the "showroom" of one of the major Northampton houses. Interestingly enough, the fit shoe has no outsole. Lo and behold, what is revealed is gemming and cork filling.

This photo was offered up in response to the assertion that a hand-welted shoe was "complete" once it was welted--that it could be worn around with no damage to the integrity of its construction--and that a gemmed shoe required an outsole to stabilize it. You may remember the photo and the discussion.

It can't be both ways.
post #29 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post


...........somewhere on this forum there is a photo of a customer trying on a "fitter's model" for a pair of bespoke shoes in the "showroom" of one of the major Northampton houses. Interestingly enough, the fit shoe has no outsole. Lo and behold, what is revealed is gemming and cork filling.

I don't know what picture you refer to, but Northampton and West-End shoemakers are two totally different beasts, the first one is a factory using factory methods.

http://cobblersweb.style.coocan.jp/cleverley23/cleverley23_fitting.html

Jun Kuwana's site features here a typical London bespoke shoe at the “in-welt” fitting stage. The shoe is fully (hand)-welted, the last has been taken out and a temporary shank and a temporary heel got attached, ready for the customer to step in.

This one is Cleverley, but could equally come from any other West-End firm, as they all place their fittings at the same stage of completion. Exceptions are John Lobb (no fittings: they used to do “in welt” fittings, but stopped it maybe thirty years ago) and Carreducker who seem to prefer “braced” fittings.

Here is another pair – this time Foster/Maxwell – at the same “in-welt”stage.

******6.jpg
post #30 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

And that's why leather quality across the board has gone down over the years.

I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say. Are you saying there's a supply issue with leather, causing general leather quality to go down? Or are you saying RTW shoe manufacturers aren't willing to pay these high prices, causing the quality of the leather they're using to go down?
Quote:
I've not only seen and handled high-end/low-end, I've torn them apart, analyzed their construction techniques and materials. What's more, I actually make shoes and boots and have done for 40+ years. As a full time career. Additionally, I actually own a copy of nearly every major work written in the last 200 years about making shoes, have read many of them...and converted some of the more important ones into digital format. I created and administer a discussion forum for bespoke boot and shoemakers for my Trade guild.

How about you? What informs your opinions?

My opinions are informed by my experience of wearing the following ranges of RTW shoes, with their approximate current retail prices indicated:

Loake 1880 (GBP 180)
Grenson Footmaster (GBP 250)
Crockett & Jones regular line (GBP 300)
Crockett & Jones Handgrade (GBP 400)
Grenson Masterpiece (GBP 400)
Edward Green (GBP 600)

I think there's an obvious step-up in quality going from C&J regular line to Handgrades, never mind going from Loake to Edward Green.
Quote:
Of course, but it's not substantive nor does it affect quality. We all have our own individual aesthetic sensibilities. Some like G&G, some don't. Again, what you're paying for there is blue sky in some respects. I'm not saying you shouldn't...I'm saying you need to know and understand the implications of that aspect of it.

Is your definition of "quality" when it comes to shoes only restricted to construction and materials? You don't consider design, shape, fit and finishing to be aspects of quality?
Quote:
So tell me again what are you are paying for.

I am paying for shoes that look nice to me, fit me well and last a long time, at a price that I can afford. My entire shoe collection cost me less than a single pair of shoes from John Lobb St James (now at a mere GBP 3,228 including VAT!).
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