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Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..." - Page 88

post #1306 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

With regards to this, I must say that I certainly wouldn't mind the maker being revealed. Since I'm a customer. And yes, it MIGHT make a difference to what I choose to do with my money. 
At the same time, I also certainly wouldn't mind the maker NOT being revealed. Since this is essentially a thread about shoe making, and I'm happy if the discussion just moves along talking about shoe making techniques. Equally enjoyable. 
DW (creator of this thread) has already made it clear from very early on in this thread that he is not interested in who the makers are, and has no interest in criticising specific makers, and that's great. But actually I think, DW, you shouldn't be afraid that when makers are named, that you would be accused of attacking anyone in particular. Most of us appreciate your explanations on why one techniqie is better than another. These are things that lay folk would probably never be able to understand otherwise. 
I feel the onus is on us, the readers, to recognise that even if his, or any of the other contributors say or imply, that any method or technique is inferior to another, that it's nothing else but consturctive criticism, in the spirit of this thread. 

History proves otherwise. Recent history. The Late Unpleasantness.

I personally don't care whether the maker is revealed...this is not the first time I've said this. But for the most part...if you want my opinions, my analyses, my critiques or explanations, such revelations would be slow in coming simply because, again, I am not eager to make, or even encourage / facilitate those connections myself.
post #1307 of 1710
I don't think this thread should be about criticizing specific makers or manufacturers. There are many other places for that.

This thread should be about what it says it is about.

FWIW, most any profession will discourage its members from criticizing each other in public. The criticism tends rapidly to degrade into battles that hurt the profession as a whole.

I admire DW for not attacking his fellows in front of an audience that isn't qualified to judge independently the substance of the arguments. The phrase, "a jury of one's peers," exists for good reason.
post #1308 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whirling View Post

I don't think this thread should be about criticizing specific makers or manufacturers. There are many other places for that.

This thread should be about what it says it is about.

FWIW, most any profession will discourage its members from criticizing each other in public. The criticism tends rapidly to degrade into battles that hurt the profession as a whole.

I admire DW for not attacking his fellows in front of an audience that isn't qualified to judge independently the substance of the arguments. The phrase, "a jury of one's peers," exists for good reason.

Thank you! Very well said.

cheers.gif
post #1309 of 1710
A photo borrowed from Instagram showing some pegs...I hope they are good pegs.



If anybody cares to know source, please PM me.
post #1310 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post


Of course they do. You just need a better, more informed, perspective. The best makers have always been a small small minority...but it is they who set the standards and create the Traditions and drive the evolution of the Trade forward. They are still with us...although with a limited perspective you never see or acknowledge them.

But that limited perspective...one that is mesmerized by "short cuts and cost saving techniques"(shiny objects, the "magpie eye")...cannot abide,and indeed dismisses, all such people and all techniques that require effort and years to master and that forward the Trade. And so they are lost...both the people and the techniques. And the materials that make "best practices' possible.

And among people who extol cost saving and short cuts in particular, but in the general population as well, the factory mentality reigns and factory work becomes the new gold standard. And good work and best practices devalued and lost to the ages.
That's just another way of instigating and provoking conflict and confrontation.

I myself have talked endlessly about the strengths and the reasons to do specific techniques. That's the positive side--leadership by example. I've also been forced to discuss the weaknesses of other techniques simply because some people refuse to accept the fundamental mechanics and the logic behind those techniques. But unlike a lot of people here, either way I have laid out the logic, in detail. That right there is more than any ten of my critics have done. More, I have posted photos and drawings--both my own and drawn from historical documents written by recognized masters. I've even sallied forth into the philosophical foundations and principles that inform the craftsman's perspective.

Most of what I have set out has been rejected by people who are not craftsmen or shoemakers; people who want their un-informed opinions validated and need to be "stroked" constantly; people who feel like they are entitled to opinions and recognition that they have not earned. People, IMO, like yourself.

As you say "caveat emptor."

--

 

Examples of cost savings:

 

Shoemakers invented rand/welted shoes to make their shoes more serviceable and thus lower total cost of ownership for their customers.

You adjust ready-made plastic lasts for your bespoke works as you believe it can achieve the same best results as building a last from raw piece of wood.

 

 

Now you don't want to talk about others sloppy work, that's your choice.  Who else won't talk about sloppy work of different brands? Resellers and brand fanatics.

post #1311 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Regarding how I say things and / why I butt heads with a select few...

I'll tell you another story which may not satisfy very many people, but is, I think, revealing....

As I have mentioned on occasion, one of my best friends and mentors is the head shoemaker at Colonial Williamsburg. And recognized as one of the foremost shoe historians in the world.

All day long he and his apprentices make historically correct shoes in front of a public that tramps in and out of the Shoemaker's Shop. And all day long he is forced to field questions from people who haven't a clue...such as "where is your sewing machine", "why don't you put rubber on the bottom?" "is that a wooden foot?" etc., etc. ad nauseum.

And all day long he is forced...both by the fact that he works for a politically correct government agency and by his own definition of what a Virginia gentleman would say / do....to be polite and to patiently explain that there were no sewing machines in the 18th century. Etc., etc., ad nauseum.

And he does it. But IMO it saps his passion...and his energy. He retreats into silence and unresponsiveness when he can and doesn't offer any more information than he has to. Except around colleagues.

I know exactly how he feels.

But I answer only to myself and I'm not a Virginia gentleman. So sorry.
post #1312 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post

Examples of cost savings:

Shoemakers invented rand/welted shoes to make their shoes more serviceable and thus lower total cost of ownership for their customers.
You adjust ready-made plastic lasts for your bespoke works as you believe it can achieve the same best results as building a last from raw piece of wood.


Now you don't want to talk about others sloppy work, that's your choice.  Who else won't talk about sloppy work of different brands? Resellers and brand fanatics.

DW has never said he was against TRUE ADVANCES. He never said he was against efficiencies that had NO NEGATIVE IMPACT on the quality of the end results.

Though you may not know many people other than resellers and brand fanatics who choose not to talk about the "sloppy work of different brands," I assure you that the world is full of such people. There are countless reasons why people choose not to disparage others' work, even when that work is of low quality or poor value.

If you are so concerned that "sloppy work" be brought to light, how about you show photos of some of your shoes that have disappointed you on the basis of quality. Then talk specifically about why you feel the quality is low. Be sure to add the conditions under which you wear the shoes and how you care for them. However, I have no interest whatsoever in your repeating what you heard elsewhere or in your talking about shoes you haven't worn yourself. If you are paid to work on other people's shoes or to make shoes for other people, I would welcome your talking specifically about those shoes.

Edit: Add: I am sure nobody would object to you starting your own thread or threads on any topic you like.
Edited by Whirling - 5/9/16 at 10:37am
post #1313 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whirling View Post

DW has never said he was against TRUE ADVANCES. He never said he was against efficiencies that had NO NEGATIVE IMPACT on the quality of the end results.

That's right. In fact, for better or worse I may have even been the source of some very minor advances, myownself.

But that said, the welt evolved, it was not invented per se. And every step of its evolution involved more work and more skill and even better materials. The reason it evolved the way it did involves the three legged stool concept:

Shoemaking is like a three legged stool--it relies on 1) abiding fit, 2) reliability and structural integrity, and 3) aesthetics. Three legs makes it steady on any surface no matter how uneven and in any situation. Add another leg (or two)...such as speed and/or profit maximization...and things get dicey. In order for it to become stable again one or more of the original legs have to be cut off.

The welt addressed all three of those issues to the redounding benefit of the shoemaker as well as the customer. But, while it may have preserved the life and beauty (and structural integrity...same thing) of shoe and the fit over a longer period of time and thus saved the customer some money, it didn't evolve for the express purpose of cutting costs and it damn sure wasn't a short cut.

As for my use of standard sized lasts it is nearly as old a practice as carving lasts from scratch ...if not older. Once upon a time a shoemaker had one last for any given pair of feet and "shovers" were added to adjust the fit. I choose to use standard sized lasts and build up or cut down because that's the way i was trained. It wasn't and isn't a cost cutting measure and probably isn't in any real sense of the word a shortcut. (Carving lasts never really caught on here in the States...not that I have ever heard.)

In fact, I suspect that my approach may be even a bit more expensive at least on a one to one basis. In each pair of standard sized lasts I have the cost of the materials, the work of the modelmaker and the operators who turn the last, as well as shipping and the "branding" and profit that goes with it. Then, I have my own labour which, while undoubtedly not as extensive as the hand-carver's, may on occasion involve eight or more hours of fitting-up work.

That said I have no experience carving lasts and no basis to do more than guess, in that regard. .
Quote:
I am sure nobody would object to you starting your own thread or threads on any topic you like.

As I, and others if only implicitly, have suggested--any number of times.

--
Edited by DWFII - 5/9/16 at 5:17pm
post #1314 of 1710
Regarding the name mentioning issue.
IMO, everybody is entitled to set their own policies that they adhere to within there own industry. We all have our reasons, those reasons are nobody's business but your own. And, if you don't care to make those reasons public, you have every right not to. After-all it's your livelihood, nobody else's.

In my case I am constantly asked my opinion on the best made shoe. That's a loaded question. Most companies are concerned to stay within their retail price-points. That could be anywhere between a few hundred to thousands depending on the company. Now value? That's a different story.....

I know several CEO's, Presidents and, owners of high-grade companies. Many have wholesale accounts with us. Many have offered me a free pair of shoes of my choosing. Why? Because they feel it's good exposure for them if I am wearing their brand. While I appreciate their offers, I won't accept....In my way of thinking that would show favoritism. My integrity is far more important to me then a free pair of shoes.

I can say that the ones I continue to maintain my relationships with are very sincere and contrary to what others may think, it's not strictly about the bottom line dollar. There is a passion to deliver the best possible product at their targeted price-point, that is an important objective of their's. On the other hand, there are the phonies. Those are the ones that care about nothing else but the dollar. I don't bother with those types and some may be surprised at who they are.

So, whatever the reason I respect one for refusing to mention names. Chances are it's more about your integrity than anything else.
post #1315 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick V. View Post

Regarding the name mentioning issue.
IMO, everybody is entitled to set their own policies that they adhere to within there own industry. We all have our reasons, those reasons are nobody's business but your own. And, if you don't care to make those reasons public, you have every right not to. After-all it's your livelihood, nobody else's.

In my case I am constantly asked my opinion on the best made shoe. That's a loaded question. Most companies are concerned to stay within their retail price-points. That could be anywhere between a few hundred to thousands depending on the company. Now value? That's a different story.....

I know several CEO's, Presidents and, owners of high-grade companies. Many have wholesale accounts with us. Many have offered me a free pair of shoes of my choosing. Why? Because they feel it's good exposure for them if I am wearing their brand. While I appreciate their offers, I won't accept....In my way of thinking that would show favoritism. My integrity is far more important to me then a free pair of shoes.

I can say that the ones I continue to maintain my relationships with are very sincere and contrary to what others may think, it's not strictly about the bottom line dollar. There is a passion to deliver the best possible product at their targeted price-point, that is an important objective of their's. On the other hand, there are the phonies. Those are the ones that care about nothing else but the dollar. I don't bother with those types and some may be surprised at who they are.

So, whatever the reason I respect one for refusing to mention names. Chances are it's more about your integrity than anything else.

 

I agree with this on a few levels. 

In fact, it reminds me of something DW mentioned some time ago on these threads, and I think in an interview with Keikari.

About the shoe maker having to decide between "making money and making shoes", and what is "Job One". 

While it would probably be argued that any (primarily) RTW maker that focuses on factory based shoemaking probably doesn't have their "Job One" as making shoes, I think the general idea is there. The maker must have their priorities set straight. 

Yes, surviving and having a profit margin is important, but so is making at least a decent pair of shoes.

The shoemaker has to constantly want to make the best pair of shoes he can, striving for even better every next shoe he makes. And as the consumer, we must recognise this and be willing to pay a reasonable amount for it. 

BUT, what's a "reasonable" amount? I guess that's relative, and judgment call one must make on a personal level.

post #1316 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

I agree with this on a few levels. 
In fact, it reminds me of something DW mentioned some time ago on these threads, and I think in an interview with Keikari.
About the shoe maker having to decide between "making money and making shoes", and what is "Job One". 
While it would probably be argued that any (primarily) RTW maker that focuses on factory based shoemaking probably doesn't have their "Job One" as making shoes, I think the general idea is there. The maker must have their priorities set straight. 
Yes, surviving and having a profit margin is important, but so is making at least a decent pair of shoes.
The shoemaker has to constantly want to make the best pair of shoes he can, striving for even better every next shoe he makes. And as the consumer, we must recognise this and be willing to pay a reasonable amount for it. 
BUT, what's a "reasonable" amount? I guess that's relative, and judgment call one must make on a personal level.

Yes but there is the pricing issue. As I mentioned, price-points are very important to most makers. In a conversation I had with a very, very high-grade maker I asked what is your pricing philosophy/formula? His response was unusual. That was, basically they price on delivery because in their market the customer is willing to pay whatever in order to get exactly what they want. We have worked on some of the exotics that they custom made (bespoke) that were priced at $15,000.00 per pair.

In terms of bespoke (and I don't profess to know) if a customer enters a bespoke shop and asks for the least expensive pair to be made, I would assume the maker would take into consideration making a shoe that they would be proud to present in terms of materials and workmanship and price it at the most reasonable cost to the customer while making a profit for which he is entitled.

Now, if another customer came in and requested expensive exotics and lead the impression that money was no object would the maker use the same pricing formula? After-all the maker is taking a risk if the skin for some reason gets ruined (a mistake made) that could kill any profit.

So yes, it's relative to the consumer and to the maker as well.
post #1317 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick V. View Post


Yes but there is the pricing issue. As I mentioned, price-points are very important to most makers. In a conversation I had with a very, very high-grade maker I asked what is your pricing philosophy/formula? His response was unusual. That was, basically they price on delivery because in their market the customer is willing to pay whatever in order to get exactly what they want. We have worked on some of the exotics that they custom made (bespoke) that were priced at $15,000.00 per pair.

In terms of bespoke (and I don't profess to know) if a customer enters a bespoke shop and asks for the least expensive pair to be made, I would assume the maker would take into consideration making a shoe that they would be proud to present in terms of materials and workmanship and price it at the most reasonable cost to the customer while making a profit for which he is entitled.

Now, if another customer came in and requested expensive exotics and lead the impression that money was no object would the maker use the same pricing formula? After-all the maker is taking a risk if the skin for some reason gets ruined (a mistake made) that could kill any profit.

So yes, it's relative to the consumer and to the maker as well.

 

It is definitely unusual, bordering on unscrupulous, that a maker can say "price on delivery". Sounds pretty damn stupid to me. Also means that the maker can charge (fleece) the customer any which way he wants. 

Pricing should be (very) transparent and open across the board. That means his "pricing formula" should be the same for say, just a regular guy from Tanzania, vs the richest guy you can find foaming at the mouth with money. It shouldn't mean that if the order involves some expensive exotic, or if the customer gives the opinion that "money was no object", that they should be treated, or charged, any differently.

Any shoemaker, or business, with integrity should recognise this. 

Each pair of shoes, should be made to the same high standard (barring variation from the shoemaker's gradual improvement in skill as time passes), as all of his other pairs, irregardless whether it's "entry level" leather, or the most expensive exotic. 

Of course, objective things such as maybe hand stitched uppers, hand stitched vs machine stitched (if even offered) outsoles, that require more work, should warrant a fixed (and again, transparent to all) up charge accordingly. 

post #1318 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post
 

 

It is definitely unusual, bordering on unscrupulous, that a maker can say "price on delivery". Sounds pretty damn stupid to me. Also means that the maker can charge (fleece) the customer any which way he wants. 

Pricing should be (very) transparent and open across the board. That means his "pricing formula" should be the same for say, just a regular guy from Tanzania, vs the richest guy you can find foaming at the mouth with money. It shouldn't mean that if the order involves some expensive exotic, or if the customer gives the opinion that "money was no object", that they should be treated, or charged, any differently.

Any shoemaker, or business, with integrity should recognise this. 

Each pair of shoes, should be made to the same high standard (barring variation from the shoemaker's gradual improvement in skill as time passes), as all of his other pairs, irregardless whether it's "entry level" leather, or the most expensive exotic. 

Of course, objective things such as maybe hand stitched uppers, hand stitched vs machine stitched (if even offered) outsoles, that require more work, should warrant a fixed (and again, transparent to all) up charge accordingly. 

 

Perhaps we should have a Worldwide Committee on Justifiable Shoe Prices. :sarcasm: 

We can then also annoint a supreme leader who saves us from the tyranny of the market mechanism. :rotflmao: 

post #1319 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepyinsanfran View Post
 

 

Perhaps we should have a Worldwide Committee on Justifiable Shoe Prices. :sarcasm: 

We can then also elect a supreme leader who saves us from the tyranny of the market mechanism. :rotflmao:

Lol. 

Well, my point wasn't really about "justifiable shoe prices" at large. 

We might never ever come to a consensus about that. 

But I'm just saying that a shoemaker should charge and treat different clients (even if they project very different levels of wealth) based on the same "pricing formula". 

post #1320 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

It is definitely unusual, bordering on unscrupulous, that a maker can say "price on delivery". Sounds pretty damn stupid to me. Also means that the maker can charge (fleece) the customer any which way he wants. 
Pricing should be (very) transparent and open across the board. That means his "pricing formula" should be the same for say, just a regular guy from Tanzania, vs the richest guy you can find foaming at the mouth with money. It shouldn't mean that if the order involves some expensive exotic, or if the customer gives the opinion that "money was no object", that they should be treated, or charged, any differently.
Any shoemaker, or business, with integrity should recognise this. 
Each pair of shoes, should be made to the same high standard (barring variation from the shoemaker's gradual improvement in skill as time passes), as all of his other pairs, irregardless whether it's "entry level" leather, or the most expensive exotic. 
Of course, objective things such as maybe hand stitched uppers, hand stitched vs machine stitched (if even offered) outsoles, that require more work, should warrant a fixed (and again, transparent to all) up charge accordingly. 

Yet, that maker is of very high standards here on SF. Customers are willing to pay His prices. While I couldn't agree more with your theory that's not always what it is. I myself (and anybody that deals with the public) pretty much know the norms. Those with several years experience (even decades) know that certain customers will take more of your time than practical for you to service them. I know that, that sounds rude but, take my word for it, that's reality.......So, when you get an un-ordinary customer that you would really like to satisfy you have to take that into consideration. In my example I sited a company that services the likes of Princes from various Countries. He knows he can deliver. He also understands that the job may require several changes along the way. He is entitled to make his profit.
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