On sole welting specifically. I remember DWF saying that the current "traditional" method, hand sewing the welt to the insole and then welt to the outsole came to be around 1500. He did not elaborate on where, or by whom. I am hoping he, or others, can fill in the rest of the story. How were soles attached before that? DId one person invent this method? Did emerge from one workshop or regional guild? Or did the method simply appear in the historical record, with little or no documentation of where it came from.
As a guy who is never going to spring for a pair of bespoke shoes, not really my problem, but I find DWF's comments about fit disturbing. Like others, I would have assumed that this was the one thing that would be a given with bespoke. If not, then for someone who cares about fit, it would seem safer to keep trying RTW until you find something that works. Then you buy the specific shoes that fit, no mysteries. The alternative would appear to be to find a highy regarded bespoke maker, and accept that you may not get a really good fit until you had purchased several pair from the same cordwainer and together figured out just what to do to get a really good fit. I suppose someone who had the time and money to invest in trial pairs might consider this just part of the process, but how many people have that patience, and are willing to spend that kind of money?
If you can find that post, I'd be most appreciative. Maybe it would refresh my memory as to where I got that date. It sounds about right but I don't know whether I was quoting my friend at Colonial Williamsburg who sometimes posts on the Crispin Colloquy or whether I picked it out of one of the books in my library.
As for my comments about bespoke and fit...
First, a person goes to bespoke for any number of reasons, but except in rare cases,I don't think the first among them is looking for fit. I'd like to think that the search for excellence and quality was at least one of the main reasons. But I cannot think of any other product on the market where expediency and speed and lower quality raw materials are equated with quality. Where patience or impatience has such an impact on what we consider quality.
Nevertheless, over and over again people on this forum stress that...for them (fair enough)...price and quick access are the primary drivers of their purchases.
Coming back around, several people have stated here recently that they have bespoke shoes that don't fit so good...as well as RTW shoes that don't fit so good.
Think about that. When you buy RTW you have the ability to chose between dozens, maybe even hundreds of variations of fit. It's your choice. It's all in your hands. Why in the world, would you ever end up with a shoe that doesn't fit?!
Thing is, what seems to fit good in the showroom doesn't always fit so well after the shoe has had a chance to break in.
In the context of RTW some of that might be laid at the door of poor quality materials or faulty / inferior techniques and some of it may simply be that the person doesn't really know what a fit is, or should be (think about what I said regarding running shoes and perception of fit), and, as a result the shoes don't break-in properly or gracefully because the fit is "off."
Fact of the matter is, it has almost become a popular truth...worthy of Wikipedia...that shoes will always feel good in the store but not so much once the check is cashed. It's not about the money, per se. It's about what makers can do to make a good first impression. And no one cares what your second impression will be.
In the case of bespoke, despite any number of trial fittings, the shoes may not fit for much the same reasons. The customer is adamant that they should be in a size 7B when in fact an 8C is probably closer to actual measurements. But the customer doesn't want to hear that and doesn't communicate with the shoemaker beyond insisting that the shoes "feel" too long. And after making some adjustments, the shoemaker is left thinking everything is fine.
Fit problems are not limited or bound up with any method of construction. And neither buying cheap nor buying high will address those problems without some deliberation and some mindfulness on the part of the customer.
But the bespoke maker is at least trying to fit the customer and has to answer directly if he doesn't. The manufacture is just trying to make a sale. In the greater world of marketing even a hundred negative posts on StyleForum is unlikely to impact sales significantly...so the manufacturer doesn't really have to answer to any one individual once the showroom dazzle and glamour has faded.
Edited by DWFII - 2/1/14 at 5:22pm