Originally Posted by Whirling
There are two reasons why I probably shouldn't be posting this:
1. It is hearsay.
2. It is inviting more controversy.
The reason why I am posting it here is that it lend support to those makers who state that the traditional ways are best, so here it goes.
Although the only thing I should be doing is saving my money up for some bespoke footwear, I lack some self control, so I called up a company today that makes and sells some ready-to-wear boots, but mainly sells boots that are "made-to-order."
This company makes some of the most highly-regarded non-dress boots in North America. They makes boots that are actually going to see some rough conditions on a regular basis. They have been selling boots for decades, as well as resoling and rebuilding them for their customers.
I asked them if all of their boots are Goodyear-welted, and the gentleman said that yes they are. I asked him if the gemming ever fails on them. He said, without hesitation, that yes it did. He said I shouldn't worry too much about it, because he only sees it on older boots. He said he felt it was just something that happens to boots that have been around for many years. He said something about it "drying out and pulling apart," but I'm not sure I heard it exactly. Without my asking, he said I should get hand-welted boots if I were overly concerned, but they don't make any that way because it is too time-consuming.
I was amazed at this man's honesty. He certainly wasn't downplaying the drawbacks of GYW at all, despite only selling GYW footwear.
Every last word of this is 100% true to the best of memory.
So, for all those readers out there, @DWFII
is not alone in saying the difference in quality between GYW and hand-welting isn't merely theoretical. This man who makes his living off of GYW confirmed it. He also didn't talk about gemming failure as some rare and exceptional circumstance, but something that he saw commonly on older footwear his company had made...I was, frankly, shocked.
Apologies for not commenting on this sooner. This is the first chance I've had....
My prospective is from the shoe repair end of the business.
First, thank you Whirling for taking the time to interview this boot maker and further for sharing your dialog. Quite frankly, from reading about your experience it supports exactly what I have been saying. I have agreed that hand welting is superior to gemming. It's only common sense. The question I have asked is....is it worth the difference in the price?
Regardless of if you have $1.00 or a billion it's up to the consumer to spend what he/she is willing to spend.
I suppose there are a few things consumers are concerned with that ultimately influences their decision.
1. Do I really care?
2. Can I afford the difference in price?
3. I'm I willing to spend the extra money?
I have used this comparison in the past.....Supposedly Lexus is a better car than Toyota. The Lexus certainly will cost you more. Is it worth the extra money? No right -or- wrong....It's up to the consumer, how they are, willing, can afford to spend their money.
I'd like to revisit your discussion with the boot maker that you spoke to.
First, while I appreciate that you brought up the point on how he was completely honest with you. I give him no kudos's for that. If he is running a reputable business, of course he SHOULD be honest with you. It's good for business.
The thing that really jumped out at me was that once he honestly admitted, yes the gemming could eventually fail. And, he explained over time on boots.
My question to you is.....Did you ask him if the gemming can be repaired after it failed? Most likely he would have said yes. But, from your line of questioning, I don't think he was interested.
Further, gemming is mostly synthetic material made to last a reasonable amount of time. Ask yourself if a synthetic material made to withstand the elements of normal use will (EVENTUALY) rot don't you think natural leather in a holdfast will before that?
Next, unless I misunderstood...it appears that you told the maker that you intended to use these boots on a regular basis in rough conditions. Fine, not a fair comparison at all though.
Do you really think that comparing a (hand-welted) boot that you expect to take a beating (on regular basis) is fair to compare against a high-grade that will be worn delicately and lightly?
Last, I don't mean this to be derogatory in any way but, anybody that has decades of experience with the public on a daily basis has developed an intuition when you can smell a customer/client that no matter what you do, you will never make them happy. That distracts you from dealing with customers that you can certainly within reason satisfy.
I can't say for certain that, that's what happened here but, I'm pretty sure it was.