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An interview - Page 4

post #46 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

I think I would prefer Blake/Rapid over Goodyear...provided that it was done on a 6-8 iron (at least) leather insole.

Trouble is, from what I have heard (from a friend who was looking into manufacturing boots) Blake/Rapid is more expensive set up than Goodyear.

And FWIW, there are some very good RTW makers out there that use Goodyear. It's not my cuppa but...

That sounds right. I believe Ron Rider's boots are Rapid and some Blake/Rapid; they start at around double the cost of a pair of Allen Edmonds boots.
post #47 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post


Eh, no.  Hell no. 

It's like you believe a tricked out Honda Civic in a Ferrari body kit is comparable to an actual Ferrari.  The tricked out Civic looks like a Ferrari, runs fast, but it is NOT and will never be a Ferrari.  Or its akin to believing the Rolex you got off the Paki peddlers on HK streets are as good as the real Rolex.

You are ignoring the huge construction deficiency and heavy corner cutting in ALL GY welted shoes.  Judging a book by its cover is pure ignorance.

Rubbish! I certainly would not compare a Goodyear welted shoe with a Honda made to look like a Ferrari or a fake Rolex watch. Utter nonsense!

I'm not ignoring the fact that Goodyear welted shoes aren't as good in every regard to handmade shoes. I'm well aware of that fact. But Goodyear welted shoes are cheaper (for the most part) than fully handmade shoes, so you get what you pay for. It's true, the expensive brand names overcharge for their Goodyear welted shoes, but brands of any description in any category, be it cars, watches etc. overcharge. Shoes are no different in that regard.

Regardless, I have no problem with Goodyear welted shoes, and I dislike rubbishing one (or more) shoemaking methods over another. I find that tacky, irrespective of the reasons behind them. You can promote one mthod over another in a positive way without rubbishing other methods.
post #48 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWraith View Post

Rubbish! I certainly would not compare a Goodyear welted shoe with a Honda made to look like a Ferrari or a fake Rolex watch. Utter nonsense!

I'm not ignoring the fact that Goodyear welted shoes aren't as good in every regard to handmade shoes. I'm well aware of that fact. But Goodyear welted shoes are cheaper (for the most part) than fully handmade shoes, so you get what you pay for. It's true, the expensive brand names overcharge for their Goodyear welted shoes, but brands of any description in any category, be it cars, watches etc. overcharge. Shoes are no different in that regard.

Regardless, I have no problem with Goodyear welted shoes, and I dislike rubbishing one (or more) shoemaking methods over another. I find that tacky, irrespective of the reasons behind them.

The thing you're missing is that every reason and every opportunity to cut costs by cheapening a product is, in and of itself, justification to cheapen it further. Every expediency begets another. Many of the best and most well regarded makers started as bespoke. First, they decide go to Goodyear. Then it's thinner (and cheaper) insoles, then it's plastic toe stiffeners. Then plastic heel stiffeners. Leatherboard insoles. Stacked cardboard heel bases.

Every excuse is a justification, and every justification is a validation, and every validation, absolution.

There is no scenario that I can conceive of where the progression is not both inevitable and irreversible. No, nor any historical example, either.

How do you backtrack from Goodyear welting to hand welted when you fired the people who know how to do it? When you've been instrumental in creating an atmosphere where handwelted is disparaged and its practitioners all pensioned out? How do you depreciate or recover your investment in the machines, operators, and materials that inform the process? How do you explain to your shareholders that profits will take a huge hit and all that equipment, etc. will have to be written off at a loss?

I'm sorry but saying that you "dislike rubbishing..." is simply not facing reality. In a grey scale world where everything is relative and nothing worth censure or acclamation, you will never see the edge of the cliff until you walk over it.

Maybe...if the shoe factories are any example...not even then.
post #49 of 82
I'm not disparaging handmade shoes. There's room in this world for every known method of shoemaking. You exist, so do others. Yes, there are less handmade shoemakers out there, but there's less handmade everything these days. A sad but true fact. Your moaning against Goodyear welted shoes won't make them disappear or make anyone stop buying them. Just concentrate on being the best handmade shoemaker you can be and let the end product speak for itself. Concentrate on that rather than rubbishing other shoemaking methods. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your educating posts describing the differences between the various shoemaking methods, but rubbishing everything else that isn't handmade just comes off as tacky to me. Sorry, that's just how I feel.

As for myself, I'm happy with my Goodyear welted shoes. I take care of them and they'll last me a long time. I know they're not as good as handmade shoes, but I'm okay with that.
post #50 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWraith View Post

I'm not disparaging handmade shoes.

As for myself, I'm happy with my Goodyear welted shoes. I take care of them and they'll last me a long time. I know they're not as good as handmade shoes, but I'm okay with that.

I wasn't speaking about you personally.

See my post #32 in this thread.
post #51 of 82

These threads discussing gemming seem to take on a similar vein if they go on long enough (and I really enjoy the healthy debate).  The problem here as I see it, is that people are approaching the issue from two different backgrounds, directions, angles, or whatever word you want to use. 

 

There are those who are approaching it from a background of being accustomed to the best shoes in the world... bespoke, hand-welted, highest quality materials, built by hands with decades of experience.  Lets call those people the Bentley drivers for the sake of sticking with the car analogy. 

 

Then there are those who are approaching it from a background of being accustomed to cemented, corrected grain, foam-lined, paper insoled, disposable shoes available at any local department store for $100.00.  Wear them every workday for a year, and throw them away.  We will call them the Kia drivers (no offense to anyone driving a Kia). 

 

Lets call anyone wearing a Goodyear-welted shoe a person driving a readily available luxury car (BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Acura, Audi, the list goes on...)  There are differences in quality, perks, and price between all of these readily available luxury cars, but the fact remains that they are a dime a dozen.  Any drive to the supermarket and you will pass one or all of these.  Same for Goodyear-welted shoes... Allen Edmonds, Alden, Crockett & Jones, Cheaney, Loake, Edward Green, Gaziano and Girling (in no particular order).  There are differences in quality and price amongst all of these brands, but the fact remains that they are basically the same in construction from a durability standpoint.  The price varies (with good reason) because you are getting progressively better finishing and attention to detail as you climb the ladder. 

 

Now, a person that is accustomed to driving a Bentley is going to consider a readily available luxury car to be a serious step down, while a person accustomed to driving a Kia is going to consider it a serious step up.  Likewise, a person who is proud that they have entered the market of readily available luxury cars will take great offense from a Bentley driver who belittles their progress by climbing the ladder. 

 

The quote in DW's signature line is particularly applicable here...  quality is a spectrum, it isn't black and white.  DW is 100% correct and validated in his frustration with the deceptive marketing tactics that has convinced most of the world that Goodyear-welted shoes are the best shoes available.  If I was making a product that is hand over fist better, I would be quite angry by that as well.  I would also have very little patience for anyone who refused to listen to my wisdom and attempts to teach others that there is a better way or a better product.  DW is also fully correct in his assessment of the slippery slope that factory mentality allows into manufacturing by steadily going down in quality.  Any history book or detailed look into just about any company or product can validate that point.  After all, who isn't familiar with the saying "they don't make them like they used to."  I also think that having someone around like DW to write books, post in these forums, make shoes of the quality that he does, etc., is crucial to maintaining a documented history of how things were, and how they still can be. 

 

My point at the end here though, is simply that everyone needs to remember the angle from which they are approaching this discussion.  I came from the Kia driving group and entered the readily available luxury car group.  I got sick of throwing away shoes every year that were smelly, scuffed, lining peeling from the underlying foam, with worn through insoles.  I got online and started learning.  I applied my knowledge and I changed my budget to allow myself to save up enough to build a respectable rotation of middle tier Goodyear-welted shoes, and I care for them reasonably rather than obsessively.  I fully expect each pair to last over a decade and hopefully up to two decades.  I have absolutely no belief that they are the same as a hand-welted bespoke shoe.  In other words, I'm happy driving my BMW, and I'm proud that I'm no longer driving a Kia.  It is a step up no matter how you slice the pie, and a Bentley driver has no reason to say a BMW driver is driving a piece of crap.  Each fills a niche.  Knowing that there are Bentleys out there gives a standard to compare lesser quality cars against, and it is fun knowing that there is an ultimate level of quality that isn't really surpassable.  However, that doesn't stop the Mercedes drivers from bickering with the BMW drivers about whose car is better, while the Bentley drivers look on and shake their head at the petty arguing. 

 

By the way... all of these cars are strictly random examples.  I'm not a car enthusiast, so please save me the retorts on why the brands I chose aren't good examples.  I think my point is clear enough.  Also, I'm not directing this post at anyone in particular, but rather at the general tone that these shoe quality discussions take on. 

post #52 of 82
In summary, theres a stigma that hand welted shoes are more expensive and unaffordable than GY welted shoes. But it is a complete SF myth.

RTW hand welted shoes are in average much cheaper than RTW "luxury" GY welted shoes. Vass, for example, cost about half of an EG/JL/G&G. And Meermin hand welted cost less than both C&J and Carmina. And I have actually talked to some bespoke makers who charges around $1k USD for a pair.

No one gives a damn if you prefer or buy GY welted shoes. I own them too and I am fully aware that I am buying something inferior in quality.

However, it is simply untrue and ignorant to claim that GY welted shoes have solid construction and did not skimp on the materials used. They just don't have a solid construction and all of them employed cost down material reductions.

If the SF standard is to avoid fused garments, why lower the bar and settle for gemmed shoes?

p.s., I owned fused Hugo Boss jackets and they never broke down or bubble up like the SF myths have described. But I am not claiming them to be better than my full canvassed RLPL jackets at the same price....
post #53 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mimo View Post

I too would be interested to see what's under the skirts of these "hand welted" charmers.  I'd also like to see how tidy Vass's are under the surface - the only other reasonably-priced brand I can think of that is supposed to be truly hand made.

You're in luck: the manic shoefan Claymoor has visited Vass's backrooms and posted some snaps of their goods in the making.

Just scroll down this page:

http://claymoor.blogspot.fi/search?q=vass
post #54 of 82

I've seen this excellent article - but I'd like to hear the expert view!

post #55 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post

In summary, theres a stigma that hand welted shoes are more expensive and unaffordable than GY welted shoes. But it is a complete SF myth.

RTW hand welted shoes are in average much cheaper than RTW "luxury" GY welted shoes. Vass, for example, cost about half of an EG/JL/G&G. And Meermin hand welted cost less than both C&J and Carmina. And I have actually talked to some bespoke makers who charges around $1k USD for a pair.

No one gives a damn if you prefer or buy GY welted shoes. I own them too and I am fully aware that I am buying something inferior in quality.

However, it is simply untrue and ignorant to claim that GY welted shoes have solid construction and did not skimp on the materials used. They just don't have a solid construction and all of them employed cost down material reductions.

If the SF standard is to avoid fused garments, why lower the bar and settle for gemmed shoes?

p.s., I owned fused Hugo Boss jackets and they never broke down or bubble up like the SF myths have described. But I am not claiming them to be better than my full canvassed RLPL jackets at the same price....

 

That seems to be a decent summary biggrin.gif.  Thanks for pointing out that there are hand-welted shoes that can be obtained at significantly lower prices than the "luxury" GY welted shoes.  Those who solely purchase the "luxury" shoes as you describe them above would be well served to know that they are spending that much for a shoe that is only better from a standpoint of exclusivity, and refinement in appearance/design/finishing.  They will wear out just as quickly as a pair of $300.00 GY welted shoes.  To many people (not me) that cost is excusable if they consider appearance and exclusivity to be far more important that durability for the money.  My priorities fall far more on the durability for money side. 

post #56 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoneyWellSpent View Post

That seems to be a decent summary biggrin.gif . Thanks for pointing out that there are hand-welted shoes that can be obtained at significantly lower prices than the "luxury" GY welted shoes. Those who solely purchase the "luxury" shoes as you describe them above would be well served to know that they are spending that much for a shoe that is only better from a standpoint of exclusivity, and refinement in appearance/design/finishing. They will wear out just as quickly as a pair of $300.00 GY welted shoes. To many people (not me) that cost is excusable if they consider appearance and exclusivity to be far more important that durability for the money. My priorities fall far more on the durability for money side.


devil.gif

Hence the terms "brand whore" and "box apostle."
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoneyWellSpent View Post

DW is 100% correct and validated in his frustration with the deceptive marketing tactics that has convinced most of the world that Goodyear-welted shoes are the best shoes available. If I was making a product that is hand over fist better, I would be quite angry by that as well. I would also have very little patience for anyone who refused to listen to my wisdom and attempts to teach others that there is a better way or a better product.

Just to set the record straight, however, I do, admittedly, get irritated at the know-it-alls and the smart-alecks and the shoe-groupies who presume to teach their old grannys how to suck eggs. Parenthetically and remarkably, this conversation has been both respectful and civil and perhaps just as importantly, interesting. But all too many conversations on SF (and not just ones about shoes) seem to draw out every snark-ninny in the area... from whatever dank warrens they reside in.

But I'm not angered by mass manufactured shoes and all that is implied by them (lots more than we've touched on here). I recognize the need and place for RTW at every level and always have.

Nor am I angry about the state of the Trade...simply because I am, and long and long have been, doing my bit to combat ignorance, in all its insidious forms. What's more, I believe that I have had an impact. I derive both satisfaction and comfort from that thought.

What abides, however, is just a sense of sadness and loss...not only for a Trade that is so deeply rooted in all the impulses that are precious to human beings--our better angels--but also for the concomitant, society-wide, loss of self-respect that comes with the partitioning-off of those values across the board.

Again, it's all about context. It's hard to make a case for excellence or quality or even "Style" ...even in this place--StyleForum...when, at bottom, it's ticky-tacky (and no other) that holds sway in people's imaginations.

Anyway....I started to write this in a spirit of devilish and dry humour and got caught up in the larger and more serious implications. A character fault, no doubt.

--
Edited by DWFII - 3/9/13 at 8:49am
post #57 of 82

I don't mean to hijack DW's thread, but since the topic shifted to Goodyear-welted shoes and gemming, hopefully I will be forgiven.  Shoe construction and differences between all of the various brands is a big interest of mine.  I have not been able to figure out one of the crucial details of Alden's construction methods, and I was wondering if any of the experts who are paying attention to this thread may have some ideas.  Since it is well established amongst the people participating in this thread that Goodyear-welting/gemming are inferior construction methods to hand-welted methods, I wonder if we can temporarily consider quality differences withing the realm of gemming without jumping back into the debate about it's inherently inferior nature.  As DW said above, "I recognize the need and place for RTW at every level and always have", so I wonder if the variances in gemming methods in modern gemmed shoes may have a significant impact on their strength and durability amongst brands.  From what I have been able to figure out, there are 3 types of gemming currently in use.  Most of the English brands that are so well known, use the pinked or serrated gemming as seen here:

 

 

Some others use smooth edged gemming as seen here:

 

 

 

 

The patent for the smooth edged gemming is here: http://www.patentgenius.com/patent/5195255.html

 

And finally, there seems to be Alden's method of gemming.  Alden's method seems to be showing at first glance, the now defunct cut and turned rib that was the original method for Goodyear-welting, where two thin sections were cut by a machine and turned up at a 90 degree angle and reinforced with a full sheet of canvas gemming that covered the entire underside of the insole.  I read elsewhere on SF where Bengal Stripe talked about this method potentially being weaker even than modern gemming due to the deterioration of the upturned leather ribs over time.  See this thread: http://www.styleforum.net/t/153269/deconstructed-fashion-plate/15

 

I have tried to figure out what Alden does in their gemming methods, but they are quite secretive about this it seems (which I don't like).  I agree with DW's stance that the companies using gemming shouldn't be marketing themselves as the best construction available, but at least they do clearly show the gemming in all of their construction videos and photos (to their defense).  This can't be said for Alden.  There are a couple of videos floating around that have been made of tours of Alden's factory ( by Epaulet and Leffot).  There are several photos out there as well, of similar tours.  I find it interesting that they always skip over the gemming application step, leaving it a bit of a mystery.  It is easy to see that Alden's insoles have a sheet of what looks like white canvas covering the bottom, but it is never clearly explained.  I wonder if they are still using the gemming methods from before the advent of adhesive gemming ribs? 

 

See the video here: http://vimeo.com/6997219  At time 5:27 through time 5:45, you clearly see a picture of a 270 degree welted shoe where the gemming is not covering the heel area.  At time 6:25 through time 6:40 you clearly see a picture of a 360 degree welted shoe where the gemming covers the entire bottom of the insole. 

 

The video by Leffot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNYbOMVV0Us shows the same things at time 2:13 where they show a 270 degree welted shoe and a 360 degree welted shoe side by side.  There also seems to be some white paste (almost looks like craft glue) oozing out around the edges of the rib next to the upper leather. 

 

I am wondering of anyone has any experience or knowledge of Alden's practices here, and subsequently, if perhaps their gemming could be more secure than the other gemmed Goodyear-welted shoes. 

 

One last comment, and I'll try to end a long laborious post.  It would seem to me, interestingly enough, that the serrated or pinked gemming that is predominantly used by the English manufacterers of gemmed shoes would be the weakest of the 3 methods discussed here.  I don't know if this is logical, but it seems to me that the pinked edges reduce the surface area of canvas that is making contact with the leather insole.  In other words, the smooth edged gemming is glued under the entire flat rib while the serrated gemming is only making contact under each "tooth."  Further, when the shoes are sent back to the factory for recrafting, and the repair man is scraping the old cork out of the shoe, his scraper will inevitably catch on the serrated edges and lift them up, destroying the adhesive bond in the process.  With the smooth edged gemming, the repair man can run his scraper around the perimeter of the shoe and it won't catch on the non-existent serrated edges.  Thus, it would seem that the recrafting process would be safer on the shoes with smooth edged gemming. 

 

Any thoughts on all of this?  Again, sorry for the long post, but any input from those more knowledgeable than me would be appreciated! 

post #58 of 82
Didnt read any literatures that compares different gemming methods but even amongst British companies, ribbing height and width are very different.

The teeth gemmings might actually have larger surface area and supports the insole flexing especially with canvass.
post #59 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post

Didnt read any literatures that compares different gemming methods but even amongst British companies, ribbing height and width are very different.

The teeth gemmings might actually have larger surface area and supports the insole flexing especially with canvass.

I'm not an expert or notably knowledgeable about the intimate details of gemming (as you might guess) but functionally all gemming I've ever seen (and I've seen variations similar if not identical to those mentioned) is pretty much the same.

I read the patent description--nothing unexpected or unfamiliar there. I suspect the "pinked" edge gemming feeds, esp. around curves, easier than the other.

The mention of a white craft paste is likely to be exactly what it appears to be, although the patent application suggests a heat activated glue. It's worth mentioning that the machines that apply the glue spread it so thinly and parsimoniously (again it costs money, let's not get extravagant) that it resembles the glue on an old-fashioned lick-and-get-sick postage stamp.
post #60 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post

Didnt read any literatures that compares different gemming methods but even amongst British companies, ribbing height and width are very different.

The teeth gemmings might actually have larger surface area and supports the insole flexing especially with canvass.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post


I'm not an expert or notably knowledgeable about the intimate details of gemming (as you might guess) but functionally all gemming I've ever seen (and I've seen variations similar if not identical to those mentioned) is pretty much the same.

I read the patent description--nothing unexpected or unfamiliar there. I suspect the "pinked" edge gemming feeds, esp. around curves, easier than the other.

The mention of a white craft paste is likely to be exactly what it appears to be, although the patent application suggests a heat activated glue. It's worth mentioning that the machines that apply the glue spread it so thinly and parsimoniously (again it costs money, let's not get extravagant) that it resembles the glue on an old-fashioned lick-and-get-sick postage stamp.

 

Thanks for the replies.  It does make perfect sense that the pinked edge gemming was developed to feed around curves better so that it doesn't "buckle."  The white craft paste is definitely a separate component or application aside from the gemming rib adhesive (atleast it would be for the traditional gemming ribs that most of the companies use).  However, with the "mystery" gemming that Alden uses, I can't really say.  As the patent says: "The insole rib is coated with adhesive, usually a neoprene, allowed to dry and then stored on a reel. The insole rib is fed from a reel and attached to the insole by a special rib-laying machine which uses a jet of hot air to heat-activate the adhesive immediately prior to the rib being attached by a hammering action. It is essential that the rib be accurately positioned in relation in the insole edge; normally 7/32" from the edge."  So the heat activated glue seems to bond instantaneously to the leather (like superglue on skin).  When watching the videos of gemming being applied by the various manufacterers, it is always a very clean process with no obvious oozing.  That is why the craft glue that seems to be oozing around the insoles of Alden's shoes contributes to the mystery for me.  Also interesting is the fact that at the top of the patent description, it says that the smooth edged gemming was apparently developed and patented with the intention of making a product that is superior to pinked edge gemming and the subsequent claim that it is, in fact, superior to pinked edge gemming.  Obviously the patent was issued, and the gemming is used, so I wonder why anyone continues to use pinked gemming... unless there is contention about which is better.  I wonder if some brands actually use some additional "craft" glue to secure the shoe around the finished inseam of Goodyear-welted shoes.  While I have never seen pictures or videos of the underside of an Allen Edmonds shoe recieving such treatment, I have seen glue oozing around the edge of the insoles inside the shoe.  I haven't seen this oozing inside any of the English made Goodyear-welted brands.   

 

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