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Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..." - Page 49

post #721 of 1709
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapasman View Post

Thanks again DW.

Yr. Hmb. Svt.

fing02[1].gif
post #722 of 1709
i was with
meccariello today
and he showed me
a pair of shoes
brought in by one
of his clients
asking if he could
resole it
this was made by
a high end brand
whose shoes run
in teh 4 figure range
and i think
it shows some
of the cost cutting
as mentioned by @DWFII



meccariello was not
surprised
and told me he
has seen things
like this many times
Edited by T4phage - 2/25/16 at 12:05pm
post #723 of 1709
What is that, cardboard!?
post #724 of 1709
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post



The overarching consideration here is simply a perspective / philosophy that prefers the least amount of input, in terms of materials and time, and the least amount of human involvement, as possible for the greatest amount of profit. Profit is Job One. Quality ain't in it. And that means a constant, on-going effort / drive to reduce or minimize the cost of production whether it be labour or materials or techniques.

Bottom line is that factories have no financial incentive to introduce (or reintroduce) additional techniques (or steps in the process), or better materials, or more employees in pursuit of quality. The quality that exists in GYW factories today (such as there is, what there is of it) sells quite well to a placid and docile and un-informed (or deliberately ignorant) public as it is, thank you very much. No need to change anything. Except to perhaps shave a few more pennies off the cost of thread.

--

maybe interesting to note, there are several manufacturers of good year welted shoes that have introduced additional steps, better materials and more staff etc - see Alfred Sargent for example, just a few years ago their shoes were no way near as good as they are now - the price of their shoes did almost double of course.
post #725 of 1709
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OzzyJones View Post

What is that, cardboard!?

Looks like a cardboard / paperboard shank cover from here.
post #726 of 1709
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeninety View Post

maybe interesting to note, there are several manufacturers of good year welted shoes that have introduced additional steps, better materials and more staff etc - see Alfred Sargent for example, just a few years ago their shoes were no way near as good as they are now - the price of their shoes did almost double of course.

Well, it would be interesting to know exactly what additional steps and what "better materials"...and exactly how "better" is being defined.

But changes do occur in every business model even if the fundamental principles / Job One remain the same. That said when such changes are made, the customer base also changes, expectations are raised and often disappointed and inevitably nothing really changes except now the article in question costs more than it did.

And somehow, serendipitously, with no one really knowing how it happened, profit margins are greater than they were, as well.

edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 2/26/16 at 6:06am
post #727 of 1709
Quote:
Originally Posted by T4phage View Post

i was with
meccariello today
and he showed me
a pair of shoes
brought in by one
of his clients
asking if he could
resole it
this was made by
a high end brand
whose shoes run
in teh 3 figure range
and i think
it shows some
of the cost cutting
as mentioned by @DWFII



meccariello was not
surprised
and told me he
has seen things
like this many times
I think it would be good if you could mention the brand here, since the pictures are valid evidence, not here say.

And "3 figures" is a pretty broad range, 100-999$. So it could be anyone.
post #728 of 1709
edited
4 figure range
i;m not mentioning
brands

and yes
it was cardboard
post #729 of 1709
Quote:
Originally Posted by T4phage View Post

edited
4 figure range
i;m not mentioning
brands

and yes
it was cardboard
Fair enough!
At least my beloved C&J are not 4 figures...
post #730 of 1709
Quote:
Originally Posted by T4phage View Post

edited
4 figure range
i;m not mentioning
brands

and yes
it was cardboard

It looks simply like greed and misrepresentation to me. I don't care which firm made those shoes, but I doubt they represent them as containing structural cardboard.
post #731 of 1709
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

With all due respect, you missed the critical points in my previous response:
And:
At what point, does it get so involved and so expensive in terms of cost of materials and labour that it starts cutting into profit? The correct answer is "when you first start thinking about it."

A leather filler would be heavy and stiff.

The gemming creates the cavity because it is not part of the insole--it sits on top of the insole.

For over a hundred and fifty years, Goodyear welting and Industrial shoemaking procedures have been evolving (or devolving, depending on your perspective). What has resulted...what is extant today...is the culmination of the best minds alive striving to cut costs, maximize profits and still offer a product that at least looks good--which is all that most people care about anyway.

This is the way things go--the slippery slope, the highway paved with good intentions. And the end result is always, always, ultimately something akin to cement sole construction, corrected grain or bonded leather and paper insoles. Such shoes are common today. Some are even part of "non-premium" lines being offered by cachet brand RTW makers.

But the bottom line is that real quality, real excellence, always costs...and always will. Again, there is no financial incentive...much less righteously indignant mobs, armed with pitchforks and torches, demanding anything better. So the beat goes on.

As far as your pyramid is concerned, it already exists. But consider the pyramid for a moment, the top, where you place the HW bespoke shoes, is a thin and narrow point and the most vulnerable part of the whole artifact. From a distance, most people can't even see it clearly.

In the early days, all footwear was uncomfortable...the foot was not well understood and even a relatively good fit was rare.

As far as cowboy boots are concerned, they came along fairly late in the evolution of the shoe (mid to late 19th century) and were directly descended from from European boots. Most early cowboy bootmakers were German immigrants. So whatever faults they had, were borrowed...and common.

Lasts...as a concept...are very old and probably began as lefts and rights. When people decided that they wanted higher heels, the problems involved with making lefts and rights became so difficult that "straights" were adopted.

Then too...like today...fashions came and went and when society as a whole became enthralled with more "natural", organic, forms, lasts and footwear changed too. From what I know and have been led to believe, lefts and rights, as well as straights, appeared and disappeared several times during the history of the shoe.

With the invention of the last turning lathe, lefts and rights at any heel height became commercially feasible.

As far as boots not being made on lasts, esp. during the 19th century...don't believe everything you read, esp. from people who don't have any first hand experience with the subject they're writing about . They're corbies on the cooling field of battle.

edited for punctuation and clarity

 

I do see a General suspiction from you towards the industry, and I can't fault you for this - evidence is abundant. As for me, I just Keep a tiny hope that somewhere out there someone is still trying to produce Quality industrial products... Let's see how long this tiny hope will stay alive.

 

To be honest, I can't remember ever seeing modern straights in my life. For the industry, it would be a Blessing if it becomes fashionable again since production cost will be much lower. God forbid them for ever making a comeback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

PS...I categorically reject the notion that I am a "cowboy bootmaker." I am a shoemaker.

Boots are shoes and some shoes are "boots"--it's the same Trade.

To think otherwise is to surrender to the "factory mentality" where every thing and every one must be compartmentalized and pigeon-holed. A shoemaker that cannot make pull-on boots is limited and incomplete; and a bootmaker that cannot make shoes is similarly crippled.

Present company included.
--

I didn't mean any disrespect with that cowboy-bootmaker Phrase, sorry if I may have offended you. Maybe the Idiom "Wellknown for your Cowboy boots" would be more appropriate. 

post #732 of 1709
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by globobock View Post

I do see a General suspiction from you towards the industry, and I can't fault you for this - evidence is abundant. As for me, I just Keep a tiny hope that somewhere out there someone is still trying to produce Quality industrial products... Let's see how long this tiny hope will stay alive.

Fair enough....although sometimesI am not sure it is suspicion of the Industry so much as dismay at the willing gullibility and / or naivete of the public. biggrin.gif

On the other hand discovering cardboard in a four figure shoe, is enough (or ought to be) to instill a...healthy...skepticism / suspicion of the Industry in anyone.
Quote:
To be honest, I can't remember ever seeing modern straights in my life. For the industry, it would be a Blessing if it becomes fashionable again since production cost will be much lower. God forbid them for ever making a comeback.

And you probably never will...outside of places like Colonial Williamsburg, or Old Sturbridge Village, etc.. Once the modern last turning lathe was invented (in the US) and the focus began to shift towards a closer fit and a better, more orthopaedically correct fit, straights were no longer practical for any shoe.

I might add (to your point about production costs) that "straight cone" lasts...which are pretty much the Industry standard...are more akin to "straights" than more foot mindful, physiologically correct, lasts such as "inside cone" lasts. And it does, indeed, make lasting with a lasting machine easier.
Quote:
I didn't mean any disrespect with that cowboy-bootmaker Phrase, sorry if I may have offended you. Maybe the Idiom "Wellknown for your Cowboy boots" would be more appropriate. 

No worries. I didn't take offense. It's just one of those fine details--like "cordwainer" versus "cobbler" or "handsewn Goodyear"--that mean everything...and nothing.

edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 2/26/16 at 7:17am
post #733 of 1709
Come on, T4phage, you are writing from the cover of a nickname -- you could reveal the maker's name without repercussions. By doing so, you would help the SF shoe nerd community favour those who don't cut corners while advertising "handmade" or "highest quality" stuff.
post #734 of 1709
Perhaps against my better judgement, I am going to wade into this debate.

I don’t agree with DW’s assertions about some of the ‘inevitable’ consequences of the ‘factory mentality,’ because they ignore both the theories of business strategy and many real life examples. Business strategy, which includes product/marketing strategy, includes a fundamental set of decisions about product characteristics and performance, the costs of delivering same, and the value that those deliver to the customer. Business is about long term wealth maximization, not merely about short term profits. In order to achieve long term wealth maximization, a company needs to either be: lower cost than its competitors, or higher priced. In a competitive marketplace, many companies succeed by attaining higher prices, and those higher prices, over time, can only be supported by delivering greater value. Let’s look at the car industry: the most profitable companies are those that have, for years, delivered superior cars — Porsche, Mercedes, Ferrari, BMW, and their ilk — and those that are superb/efficient manufacturers, notably Toyota. How many people would argue that, over the past decades, Porsche, Mercedes, Ferrari, and BMW have not consistently made a disproportionate share of the best/highest performance/most luxurious vehicles available? Is that because they’ve indulged in a ‘race to the bottom’? Of course not —they’ve invested billions of dollars in R&D and product development and have, time and time again, led the industry in introducing valued innovations and quality products to the car business. So, businesses don’t have to inevitably cheapen their products to succeed — to assert to the contrary is simply counter-factual.

Now, the inherent quality of a product is a separate discussion from the efficient production of that product. Any business that wants to succeed long-term must continually investigate more efficient methods of production, even without introducing changes to the product, because its rivals most assuredly will be. And yes, such changes may often lead to production methods that involve sub-specialization. DW finds this problematic, as it reduces any one worker’s personal commitment to the quality of the results. Certainly, this can be one consequence of such a production methodology. I think he also (either implicitly or explicitly) finds such a change to be de-humanizing for the workers — mere interchangeable cogs in the process. Fair enough, though others might assert that encouraging people to work as an individual craftsman leads to a loss of community values or concerns. Also, ask a worker at Patek Philippe or Rolls Royce (or thousands of other companies) about their commitment to quality production; many employees care deeply about these things and take tremendous pride in their work, notwithstanding the fact that they are just ‘cogs’ in the process. Yes, poorly run companies often do end up with indifferent employees, but these companies won’t, I submit, thrive or even survive in the long run. Case in point — the US car companies; those that survive (recall that many companies have gone out of business over the last 60 years) have lost massive market share, needed to be bailed out by the government, and have shed numerous jobs.

Of course, in the ongoing thinking about production efficiency, companies explore alternative product designs and alternative technologies. Sometimes, a lower cost solution delivers lower product quality (e.g. GYW); the question then becomes: how much lower cost vs how much lower quality, i.e. is that tradeoff a reasonable one? That is a judgement that a company needs to make; they will learn whether they were correct based on the feedback of the market.

It is, I would assert, the march of production efficiency and how that ties in to product design that leads to the loss of skills and knowledge that DW bemoans. In the context of shoemaking, it isn’t the change to skills specialization that leads to the loss of knowledge; if anything, I would suggest that specialization leads to greater collective knowledge. To the degree that skills and knowledge are lost, it is because, in a competitive marketplace, they no longer retain much value. Yes, in a GYW world, knowing the intimate details of how to, say, ply up, wax, bristle, etc. an inseam cord doesn’t have much value, so that knowledge may be lost. And that is too bad; but that is a function of the fact that alternative solutions deliver a superior benefit/cost ratio, not because the shoemaking roles have been divided up.

Where I would agree with DW is that consumers need to take more ownership of their purchase decisions and to become more well educated in that context. Yes, advertising/marketing has created false impressions and misunderstandings ('handmade,' 'best in the world,' 'never need sharpening,' 'improves gas mileage 10% with one little add-on piece of equipment,'), and also exploited many human foibles (the almost insatiable desire for more and more things, the urge to compete with/keep up with the Joneses, the fact that ones relative wealth is more important to happiness than absolute wealth, etc). The good news is that the internet makes product knowledge far more accessible than ever before, if people are willing to invest their time and energy in pursuing it. The bad news is that most people would seemingly rather watch The World’s Biggest Loser, Funniest Home Videos, etc than learn something about what they are buying. In that context, I guess people get what they deserve.

Now, about that cardboard shank cover. It is easy to criticize it. However, let me suggest an alternative scenario: the maker, after much investigation, determined that, in their honest and well-intentioned opinion, a light but stiff and strong thermoplastic shank provides superior performance. However, it is difficult to get a shank cover made of leather to adhere to the thermoplastic shank, thus using a leather shank cover can lead to squeaking. However, a cardboard shank cover for that thermoplastic shank adheres readily, is light weight, can be easily trimmed, is easy to use, and has absolutely no deleterious impact on the shoe’s performance or durability. So they have gone with that solution. Let’s not be hasty in jumping to conclusions about someones motives without knowing the facts. Here’s another example: rather than using linen thread, DW uses pre-made (but not pre-waxed) ‘Teklon’ cords to inseam his footwear. I know why that is, and I respect his reasons. However, what if you didn’t know why, you only took apart one of his shoes and saw, horror of horrors, a SYNTHETIC inseam cord! Why, my god, those are less expensive than linen cords, come pre-made, and are not traditional —that ******** DW is cheapening his product to save costs and time and make more money. In the absence of a discussion and explanation, it would be easy to have that reaction.

Edited by shoefan - 2/26/16 at 7:53am
post #735 of 1709
Thread Starter 
With all due respect, I don't think "repercussions" are the issue. In a thread that is focused on "Techniques and Traditions" these kinds of issues (country of origin, name of maker, etc.) seem beside the point to me.

If names are to be named, I suspect it would be more appropriate in threads dedicated to that particular maker. Of course, we all know what would happen in such circumstances. Why do we need such controversy here?

Besides, it's not like there is no recourse for finding out who the maker is--private messaging comes to mind.
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