Originally Posted by dbhdnhdbh
Isn't there a third direction? Ultimate quality shoes, brand whore, OR me:
That's not the issue. Stop and give it some thought. What I said makes sense entirely. Either you are a brand whore or you put yourself into a position...open your mind enough...to understand something about shoes and how they are made, even if it's only what feels good to you. If you don't do that then you are at the mercy of the public relations department. And the advertising hype that bombards us from every direction.
Think about it...why do you buy a pair of shoes? Were you wandering barefoot in the wilderness and just happened upon a shoe store? Do you buy your shoes like many buy their groceries...mainly because the TV told them that Heinz ketchup was the best or the cheapest today..."only at Safeway? "
Or do you buy your shoes because you know that at such and such a price point you will get enough value and a good enough fit to make you feel you got your monies worth? And how do you know that? Questioning, researching, study--even as simply as asking about various aspects of shoemaking here on SF?
Without that knowledge, without that curiosity, without that deliberation, the only information/basis you have to make any choice is brand name or other people's recommendations (which is fundamentally the same thing). Of course as I've said, ignorance can also be a choice.
The same overarching point applies to the issue of choosing to make shoes versus choosing to make money. I have made money making shoes. I tell people...half tongue in cheek...that I am essentially "landed gentry." I started out dirt poor. At 67, I don't owe a dime to anyone. I own my own house, a recent model car, my shop building and all therein and several thousands of dollars of high end fly fishing equipment. I drink only premium beers and decent single malts. Aside from the fly fishing equipment and the single malt, nothing rising above the commonplace or mundane, however--just the ordinary fruits of honest labour. Yes, I have made money, but I didn't get there choosing to make money. I got there choosing to give my best as far as I understood it. No compromise--your best is your best or it's not. Period.
And when I chose to make shoes...from that first shoe onward, every subsequent choice I made regarding techniques, materials etc.. was in service to the idea of best practices and finest quality--the search for excellence. Never about the bottom line or the profit margin or even the cost of raw materials. That's what is meant about choosing--what is your Job One? What governs your day to day operations and decisions. Quality shoes were always Job One, profit was Job Seven.
If a person chooses to make money, every decision has to be weighted against the bottom line, against profit. And every company that takes that road ends up not only degrading the product from where it began but painting themselves into a corner from which they cannot return to previous levels of quality. If you've fired every bottom man in the house and replaced all your hand tools and skill workers with GY machines and factory drones...how can you retool to do handwelting? You can't...the stockholders will not allow it.
old, venerable, company that started life as a small workshop making high end handwelted men's shoes, decided to expand and "modernize" the line, cut costs and substitute even a tiny bit lower grade of materials for what they had been using, which has ever...ever
...reversed course and gone back to the techniques and materials and philosophies that the firm was founded upon. I don't know of any. I don't think there are any.
John Lobb has said "we have turned our backs on the machine." What choice do you think they made? And after several centuries they remain one of the premier...really and truly premier...shoemakers in the world. Arguably because they have remained true to their principles and their vision. All the sneering "Know-Nothings" in the world can't change that nor gainsay others who admire and follow the same path. They still hold a Royal Warrant. Ask yourself why? 'Nuff said.
Choices. We all choose one way or the other. Some choose to remain ignorant. Some can have an explanation spelled out for them, in detail, point by point and never understand it--"there is none so blind...." I believe that's a choice...call me naive but have a hard time believing that there are those so mind-bogglingly dull that it's anything but a choice. Some people want everything handed to them...including attention and respect...without ever having to work
for it. Without ever having to think. Without ever having to contribute anything constructive or positive.
I've worked for everything I have...and at 67 I have the luxury, and a certain satisfaction with life, that allows me to be generous and reach out to folks and share my experiences and my knowledge, no charge. My glory days are behind me. I'm fine with that--I've been there,bought the T-shirt, paid my dues.
But that's why I know
about choices and their consequences...
--Edited by DWFII - 10/31/13 at 6:19pm