Originally Posted by DWFII
That's a good point. But despite my sig, it wasn't part of what I was saying. I agree with you... although I would point out that "best" (as well as "better") is really always only relative to some other level of achievement. The word "best"...the concept itself...has no meaning unless it is compared to something that is not "as good."
There is no bitter without sweet. And vice versa.
As for closers connecting with their work...who can say? But if we put it in the context of the "caring" you mention, do they "care" about what the final result will be? If so, one would suppose that they might refuse to work with a bottom man who wasn't "up to snuff," as who should say. Would they turn down a commission from someone new to the Trade?
And more to the point, how can they "connect" to, or even care about, the final product if they don't? Much less if they don't control or actually do the whole process themselves.
I don't doubt that some...maybe most...connect and care about the work they do. They wouldn't be in demand if they didn't. But who cares about the gestalt that is the bespoke shoe made for a customer? Cares enough to want to control every aspect, every technique...in one way or the other.
Maybe that guy is the real shoemaker.edited for punctuation and clarity
Like in any pursuit, there are some who care passionately, and others not so much....
If one believes that the solo craftsman is a superior model due to 'connecting,' then where does one draw the line. Should the shoemaker also make the lasts? What about tanning the leather? Spinning a hemp or linen thread from the fibers? Raising the cattle? Growing the flax or hemp? Is it the case that the more one does, the more connected one is to the final product? And, does that lead to a superior end product?
Sure, historically, last making was a separate trade from the other steps. But, i would argue, even before the sewing machine there was much specialization within the trade. Furthermore, why was last making separate? Because it was more efficient and led to better results.
So, I would turn things around and say that what a customer should care about is the worker's/s' commitment to excellence, along with their level of skill. So, for example, I've spent time with 2 'makers' who are considered amongst the very finest in England. They have told me, and I've observed them, doing things meticulously, even where they could have gotten away with less. Why? Because they are personally committed to doing their best work, because that is the standard to which they hold themselves. And, even though they don't do the whole thing, I believe they are connected to the finished product.
Of course, if there are outworkers, then a firm that hires outworkers needs to find those outworkers who adhere to these standards and philosophy. However, if an end-customer is going to use a one-man shop, then of course that customer must ascertain the maker's adherence to the same philosophy. A customer of a firm using multiple people must ascertain the firm's willingness to adhere to and locate employees or out-workers who also do so. I don't see a lot of difference. Firms have reputations to uphold. If they are successful, they have more to lose than the single craftsman. Look at all the tailors who have opened shop and then disappeared over the last few years (D Beaman, Rory Duffy, Wm Westmancott (sp?), etc); how many customers have been disappointed or even burned by these guys vs. those who give their business to actual tailoring firms?
There is another benefit to the multi-worker model: the ability to make a wider variety of products for the customer. Can a solo maker do a traditional (pump stitch) evening shoe? Unlikely. Can a multi-maker? Yes, if they know the right fellow in the UK (Scotland, North of England, Wales?). What about a customer who wants Norvegese stitching? Etc. etc.
If I make a shoe last, or an upper, or 'make the shoe,' and I see the finished product, I would feel connected to that product. If I were a sufficiently good closer, yes I guess I would refuse to work with a firm that I knew was going to send my closed uppers on to a hack to be made.