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The Manly Art of Thrifting Shoes

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
 
There are some real classic shoes out there that will never go out of style and can be had for pennies on the dollar. Generally, these shoes will be good as new with a little leather conditioner, some polish, and cedar shoe trees.
 
Before you go forth and thrift, here are some brands to look for:
 
Johnson & Murphy Aristocraft
 
Before J&M cut quality and sent most of their shoes overseas, they made high-quality American shoes.
 
You can still find these tanks today in their Aristocraft line - but they cost upwards of $250.00.
 
If you're able to snag a pair of vintage Aristrocrafts, you'll not be sorry!
 
My pair I recently acquired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Florsheim Imperial
Florsheim's story is similar to J&M's - started out as high quality American-made shoes until production was shifted overseas.
 
Luckily for you, Florsheim's vintage shoes are worthy of their nickname "gunboats" - Long-wing brogues and plain-toed bluchers with double-thick leather soles.
 
Be careful while walking though! While great for durability, their signature V-cleat leather heels and double rows of nails aren't known as "suicide soles" without reason. They can be slippery when walking on wet surfaces, pavement, or marble/granite.
 
Nettleton
Nettleton was founded in the 1870s in Syracuse, New York, and was considered among the best American shoe manufacturers until they closed in the 1980s.
 
The "Rolls Royce" of footwear, be sure to pick up a pair if you can find them in your size.
 
Alden
Alden, one of the two American shoe companies left, crafts their shoes in New England. They are well known for their durability, quality, and classic styling more than their elegance.
 
Allen Edmonds
In my opinion, Allen Edmonds is the ruler against which all other shoes should be measured. While they are neither the most fashion-forward nor elegant, they are well-crafted and classically-styled. Moreover, AE offers a recrafting program once you've worn out your shoes from years of wear.
 
The recrafting program is especially great if you are able to pick up an older pair of AEs from a thrift store for a few dollars. Simply send them off to AE, pay the recrafting fee (~$100), and you end up with a pair of essentially new shoes!
post #2 of 28
Every time I read a post like this I cringe.

Don't get me wrong the post is well written and there are some beautiful old shoes out there...as long as you just want them to display or look at.

But you're gambling with your health when you start buying and wearing pre-used shoes. What's more, the odds are stacked against you.

I've said this before, and although it's often dismissed, it is still a truth--not only do old shoes carry all the diseases that the previous owner might have had--toenail fungus, athlete's foot, etc., each shoe has a unique footbed that has developed specifically for accommodate the previous owners foot. Even if you foot is exactly the same size, bones and wear patterns can be significantly different and will be set into the insole as if in concrete. They cannot be entirely or successfully reformed to fit your foot. You can wear shoes that were previously owned by someone else with varying degrees of comfort and self-satisfied complacency but with almost 100% certainty the footbed is forcing your foot...the bones and ligaments...to shift and move in ways that are not natural to it.

Any one up for a game of Russian Roulette?

What's next? Thrifting underwear?
post #3 of 28

There are very few things I want less than someone else's shoes.

post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 

You opinion and position are welcomed.  But not everyone feels the way you do.  Just look through The OFFICIAL THRIFT/DISCOUNT STORE BRAGGING THREAD.   There are members that have found very high end new, dead stock, and other shoes in pristine condition.  I suppose you wouldn't purchase a pair of Alden's, Lobb, or other style forum approved brand.  If you acquire a pair used shoes there are measures you can take to clean the outer shell and sanitize the inside to kill germs.  

 

Also, everyone is not able to afford some of the brands thrifted.  I would love to own a pain of Lobb's.  But I can't afford them.  But if I find a pair in a thrift store in my size I assure you that I will purchase them.  

 

It's nice for members to share their thoughts. 

post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by PointDexter2014 View Post

You opinion and position are welcomed.  But not everyone feels the way you do.

I'm not going to pursue this because you're right, no amount of facts will change people's minds once they've decided.

But I will say this...what you're proposing is indeed based on "feelings"; what I'm telling you is based on many, many years of experience and knowledge.
post #6 of 28

Where's Meister and his drones of vintage shoes?

post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

I'm not going to pursue this because you're right, no amount of facts will change people's minds once they've decided.

But I will say this...what you're proposing is indeed based on "feelings"; what I'm telling you is based on many, many years of experience and knowledge.

You could also say that you're being hysteric and utterly ridiculous by blowing the risks way out of proportion. And that you have inherent bias as a manufacturer of new footwear.

The infection risk is very small, and if you're still worried, easily managed with one of many disinfecting sprays. The principles that allow a footbed to form in the first place allow it to re-form, at least enough to dramatically moderate any negative effects. Those are your two big arguments.

I respect your opinion quite a bit when it comes to shoe construction, virtually no-one around here comes close to matching your knowledge on that. But your paranoia about used shoes is pretty easily countered by the collective experience of the membership of this board, with many of us wearing and enjoying vintage shoes with no issues whatsoever.
post #8 of 28
DW, I'm curious to know what leads you to believe the footbed cannot be reformed. Not that I have a position on the issue either way, but I'm curious on how you came to your conclusion.
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 

I am in the process of winning a pair of  bidding on a pair of Greson tasseled loafers.  If I win these shoes I going to refurb myself.  Disinfect myself.  And I have the equipment and tools and supplies to the shoes myself.  I will post photos of a pair of used handmade shoes from a member of this forum.  The shoes were a deep chocolate.  I completely transformed the shoes from a solid color to a 2-tone spector for which I've gotten complements from strangers and co-workers.  While many on this forum my think otherwise.  I love the shoes I transformed.

 

Here's a picture of the Greson I have the winning bid on.

 

 

post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 

Below are photos of a used pair of shoes that used to be deep dark brown.  I antiqued/barnished them to 2 tone.  I love them regardless of good or bad feedback.

 

 

 

post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post

DW, I'm curious to know what leads you to believe the footbed cannot be reformed. Not that I have a position on the issue either way, but I'm curious on how you came to your conclusion.

I am really reluctant to get into this if only because as Oscar Wilde said, “I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone."

Not all shoes will develop a footbed. Cheaply made shoes...some of which were undoubtedly very expensive initially...don't even have a real leather insole. Paper will not compress. Foam will not stay compressed. Very thin leather insoles will not make a footbed.

When a good leather insole is exposed to the moisture and heat of the foot as well as the shifting weight of the body being transferred at very specific and concentrated points, it compresses the fiber mat that is leather. The inter-fiber spaces that exist in good leather are eliminated and some of the fibers of the leather even shift to other regions. When the leather is compressed in this fashion, it hardens...irrevocably. People who tool leather--bookbinders, saddlemakers and bottlemakers, etc., have relied on this characteristic time out of mind.. And even after being buried for for centuries, inundated with damp, and attacked by organisms of decay, such tooling...compression...persists. Shoemakers also rely on this characteristic to make leather heels hard enough to resist mushrooming in damp weather.

When a footbed is formed in a shoe with a good leather insole, the leather under these compression points gets hard, other parts of the insole shift upward to fill hollows that the topography of the foot provides. Some people even generate enough heat...body heat or friction heat...to actually cook and partially carbonize the leather underfoot.

You can wet the entire insole and hammer it flat...to no lasting effect. You can repeat the process as many times as you wish and you will never redistribute leather fibers that have shifted or restore the hardened leather to its original neutral state. You can flatten it somewhat but the hardened areas will remain hard and the shifted fibers remain shifted. The best you can hope for is to harden all the rest of the insole to the same degree as those areas that were hardened by wear. I've never seen that happen successfully.

Because leather is a fibrous, porous product with a somewhat denser grain surface and a looser more open structure underneath, chemicals and organisms that come off the foot--salt, bacteria, fugal infections, etc.--can, and do, migrate deep into the leather. That's really what "breathability" is all about--the wicking properties that moves moisture (and all it contains) away from your foot.

You can wipe the insides of a shoe with all the disinfectant that you want and the chances are slim to none that enough of it will penetrate deep enough into the leather to eradicate even a small percentage of those organisms.

If your immune system is very good; if you don't sweat a whole lot; if you only wear the shoes rarely, you may never be affected.

But the truth is that it can take years for toenail fungus to manifest itself--you can contract it and it can be dormant in your body until long after the shoe that carried it has worn out. Unnatural shifts in bone alignment similarly can take years to show up...and eventually cripple you.

Lung cancer won't kill you after your first pack of cigarettes either.

There's no percentage in trying to convince a smoker to quit. They have flies in their eye. It's a lost cause and nothing short of blood in the phlegm will make a person quit. And sometimes not even then.

I am unsubscribing from this discussion because it just makes me tired. If you have further questions there's a thread entitled "leather properties" (or some such) which, I suspect, will be more appropriate.

“Protect me from knowing what I don't need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don't know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen.― Douglas Adams
post #12 of 28
serious question... whether it's from a thrift, or just one's own, can we please have a discussion of disinfection methods?


I am a complete no0b. I was concerned about my own potential foot fungus infections so decided to disinfect all my shoes. Not knowing quite what to do, I sprayed (with an atomizer) them all very well from the inside (from inside to the toes to the heel, everywhere inside)
first with rubbing alcohol,
then white vinegar,
then witchazel
basically, all the antibacterial items I could find. Sprayed each one, waited a day, then sprayed the next one.
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I am really reluctant to get into this if only because as Oscar Wilde said, “I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone."

Not all shoes will develop a footbed. Cheaply made shoes...some of which were undoubtedly very expensive initially...don't even have a real leather insole. Paper will not compress. Foam will not stay compressed. Very thin leather insoles will not make a footbed.

When a good leather insole is exposed to the moisture and heat of the foot as well as the shifting weight of the body being transferred at very specific and concentrated points, it compresses the fiber mat that is leather. The inter-fiber spaces that exist in good leather are eliminated and some of the fibers of the leather even shift to other regions. When the leather is compressed in this fashion, it hardens...irrevocably. People who tool leather--bookbinders, saddlemakers and bottlemakers, etc., have relied on this characteristic time out of mind.. And even after being buried for for centuries, inundated with damp, and attacked by organisms of decay, such tooling...compression...persists. Shoemakers also rely on this characteristic to make leather heels hard enough to resist mushrooming in damp weather.

When a footbed is formed in a shoe with a good leather insole, the leather under these compression points gets hard, other parts of the insole shift upward to fill hollows that the topography of the foot provides. Some people even generate enough heat...body heat or friction heat...to actually cook and partially carbonize the leather underfoot.

You can wet the entire insole and hammer it flat...to no lasting effect. You can repeat the process as many times as you wish and you will never redistribute leather fibers that have shifted or restore the hardened leather to its original neutral state. You can flatten it somewhat but the hardened areas will remain hard and the shifted fibers remain shifted. The best you can hope for is to harden all the rest of the insole to the same degree as those areas that were hardened by wear. I've never seen that happen successfully.

Because leather is a fibrous, porous product with a somewhat denser grain surface and a looser more open structure underneath, chemicals and organisms that come off the foot--salt, bacteria, fugal infections, etc.--can, and do, migrate deep into the leather. That's really what "breathability" is all about--the wicking properties that moves moisture (and all it contains) away from your foot.

You can wipe the insides of a shoe with all the disinfectant that you want and the chances are slim to none that enough of it will penetrate deep enough into the leather to eradicate even a small percentage of those organisms.

If your immune system is very good; if you don't sweat a whole lot; if you only wear the shoes rarely, you may never be affected.

But the truth is that it can take years for toenail fungus to manifest itself--you can contract it and it can be dormant in your body until long after the shoe that carried it have worn out. Unnatural shifts in bone alignment similarly can take years to show up...and eventually cripple you.

Lung cancer won't kill you after your first pack of cigarettes either.

There's no percentage in trying to convince a smoker to quit. They have flies in their eye. It's a lost cause and nothing short of blood in the phlegm will make a person quit. And sometimes not even then.

“Protect me from knowing what I don't need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don't know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen.― Douglas Adams

Many thanks for taking the time to write that, DW.

Curious though,

1. Is it fair to say most of the shoes celebrated on this forum are made with an insole substantial enough to form a footbed? Or no?
2. Is there a reason you believe that wearing a pre-worn insole - one already with an imprint - will lead to medical problems? I understand your point about leather forming an imprint, one that can't be reversed, but do you have any reason to believe this will lead to medical problems?
3. Similarly, is there any specific study you've read about the foot diseases matter?
4. Lastly, I would have thought that the imprint formed in the corkbed would be the bigger issue, but I also imagine that this can be reformed with enough heat and pressure.

I hope I'm not coming off as flippant here. I've studied a bit of statistics through epidemiology (I don't study epidemiology, but that field is one of the better ones to learn statistics). I admit I find it difficult to see how any of these things can be proven (for reasons too long and complicated to get into here). I understand how they could work theoretically, but I don't know if you're making claims on theory, or something you know for a fact. Again, not trying to be flippant or confrontational, just trying to clarify.
post #14 of 28

"Passing up on those moccasins someone else has been walking in"

post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post


I'm not going to pursue this because you're right, no amount of facts will change people's minds once they've decided.

But I will say this...what you're proposing is indeed based on "feelings"; what I'm telling you is based on many, many years of experience and knowledge.

 

 Plus it's gross...biggrin.gif

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