Originally Posted by shoefan
One other comment which has occurred to me: DW says that the factory mentality has led to lower quality footwear. But, what is his definition of quality? It is rooted in the products that started out being handmade, because back in the day there was no alternative. Plus, as he points out, the handmade shoes evolved over hundreds of years; factory production is only say 150 years old. So, shouldn't we wait a few hundred more years before we conclude that factory production always leads to a lower quality shoe? Furthermore, is a hand welted shoe truly a higher quality shoe than a lightweight, form fitting, injection-molded, gore-tex uppered Nike? I guess it depends on the criteria you apply. Of course, if the criteria you apply are based on the standards from 150 years ago, the handmade shoe is superior. But, are those the proper criteria, or merely a result of a flawed approach to developing the criteria?
Fundamentally, what you asking is "what is the definition of quality?" and I say that if you have a handwelted shoe, in front of yo, made to the highest standards of the Trade and a GY welted shoe made to the highest standards of the Industry and you cannot see that the HW shoe is better-made, across the board, then the only possible reason you cannot is that you are accepting a definition of quality that justifies all the compromises and expediencies that the factory embraces.
Anyone can look at examples of work from 150 years ago and examples from today and see the differences. Demonstrable differences. Objective differences. And those differences boil down to two distinct perspectives. You are perfectly free to decide which is better or higher quality but in deciding, you reveal what your own standards are. You reveal which definitions of quality, which "mentality"--factory or Traditional / artisanal / mindful / perhaps even objective and demonstrable-- you embrace.
All the self-congratulatory excuses for accepting or embracing factory standards, such as those associated with "value for the money," etc., as any
kind of definition of quality, are just that--excuses.
"Value for the money" has significance...maybe even absolutely. But so does "quality." And they do not partake of, nor share the same sensibilities. Dumbing down the definition of "quality" is presumably very "egalitarian" esp in today's socio-political environment. But it doesn't change the fact it is
dumbing it down. Words have meanings and I, personally, do not feel compelled to change them nor do I see any reason to make up my own meanings.
Why shouldn't we wait another 100 years? Because by that time factory standards...regardless of the objective quality...will be be the only
standards. Simply because people buy into those justifications and excuses. And because today
...not 100 years from now...is when those definitions of quality get accepted or rejected.
As for the "flies in the eyes" bit, I thought you might have read Heller or at least understood that it is not a question of disagreeing with me or not, it is a question of whether a person has the experience and background...and willingness to learn...to see and accept what others see and have seen by engagement and involvement and "doing." .
I don't impose my views on anyone here or elsewhere. I am not knocking at your door. Or collaring you on the street. Those who come here (voluntarily, every one) with no experience (but often with ulterior motives...or so it seems to me) to tell me that my 45 years experience...doing
it...are not valid, do so with no legitimate justification.
It is not my highway, it is only my professional opinion based on many years of doing it full time. Not as a hobby, not as a groupie, not as a boss. And of thinking about it...full time...and about what it all means. Maybe that's worth something. Maybe it even helps people make their decisions and "discern" for themselves. Regardless, it's certainly different...diametrically opposite, IMO...to what a lot of my detractors bring to the table.
But bottom line it's still just an opinion. If someone feels pressure to believe there is some worth and wisdom in what I propose, perhaps it is because "truth" often has a certain authenticity about it that speculation and rationalization do not.
We can have these intellectual discussions till the cows come home but it doesn't mean anything if we are oblivious and indifferent to the actual work, demonstrable results and objective facts. it's just hot air and speculation / fantasy until the relative strengths and weaknesses are compared. That's the trap of intellectual discussions--they are just a game unless we touch ground regularly.
Your assertion that "you could find examples that disprove his thesis, at least as it applies to traditional crafts" is speculation and nothing else, esp. in the absence of concrete examples.
If there are examples, show me (show me an example in the shoemaking world)--I'm from Missouri.
--Edited by DWFII - 2/27/16 at 10:34pm