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The Ultimate "HARDCORE" Shoe Porn Thread (Bespoke only)

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by luk-cha, Jul 3, 2010.

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  1. shoefan

    shoefan Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I was going to write something similar last night.

    I think the key here is having someone who oversees the whole process and who can recognize good work from each of the various specialties. Think about George Glasgow or John Carnera -- they have seen literally thousands of pairs of bespoke uppers, and likewise finished shoes after 'bottoming.' Likewise Terry Moore. They have also seen work coming back in for repair, and received feedback from their customers, both at the time of initial delivery and when the customer returns for future orders. This person may be the last maker who measures you and makes your lasts (and may do the pattern making and clicking as well). He may be able to make an entire shoe, but may not. The critical issue is whether he has the knowledge to insure you, the customer, is getting a quality product up to the standards of the firm. I would imagine John Carnera or Terry Moore would describe himself as a shoemaker, though perhaps not.
     
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    shoefan, BengalStripe,

    Thank you.

    So the "tailor" or the "shoemaker" is really a "virtual person"...a collective entity...not an individual. Seems odd to me, seems so motivation-sapping. But I was touched, as who should say, by the stories and the people in that video. And felt a certain kinship with them.

    Are there no "Compleat" shoemakers or tailors in England? Not lastmakers or closers who have done, but do? ntempleman said something about admiring the French system and suggested...IIUC...that the French don't use outworkers.
     
  3. shoefan

    shoefan Well-Known Member

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    Maybe one or two, but not many. I recall there was a tailor who used to post here, was a one-man shop -- there is a term for that, a tailor who does it all, but I can't recall it off the top of my head. The tailor was the fellow who went to prison for a gun (smuggling?) violation. Forget his name too :embar:

    I just don't think that is the way the UK works. I know some of the makers can close (Pelle, for example, was studying with JK), but probably not to the standards of the trade, or they're too slow to do it for actual pay.
     
  4. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Well-Known Member

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    The French do not have the system of self-employed outworkers (although Delos seems to have done a few outworking jobs for some of the Parisian houses, which might have been to cover a staff shortage or Delos might have brought extra skills which the houses had not covered).

    Not using outworkers (or only occasionally) does not mean these firms are on-man-bands. In general the large French firms employ their staff on a permanent basis. Delos told me there are 12 or 15 people (can't quite remember) working for Berluti on the bespoke side. There are three teams, run by Delos, Rock and Casalonga. The other twelve people work on the shoes; they might be assigned to one team or the other, or they might work across the teams whatever the jobs demand (probably one patina guy and one hand-stitched apron guy is enough for all three teams.)

    Even before Delos signed up with Berluti, he employed two workers. I believe he still works with the same people, but their employer is no longer Delos but Berluti. The bespoke workshop of JLP employs about a similar number as Berluti, Corthay (on the bespoke side) might be 6 people (including the Corthay brothers).

    The Italian houses seem to rely heavily on Japanese workers, particular as many applicants offer to work for nothing.



    I do remember his name: He is working again as a tailor, so, best let it be forgotten.
     
  5. semperexcelsius

    semperexcelsius Well-Known Member

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    Well, @ntempleman is a complete shoemaker, and I'm sure there are others in England... Unless I misunderstand what you're saying
     
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    I had a sense he was just because his business is so newly minted, as who should say. Perhaps he intends to employ other makers in the French way or use outworkers as his business grows.

    As shoefan suggested there are pluses and minuses to both approaches...today I am working on a last for a lady lawyer in Brussels (every foot is a puzzle waiting to be solved) , folding and closing a pair of "full" jodhpurs (no seams, inside or out, except at the sides), channeling and holing insoles for same, and finishing a pair of chukkas (finishing is my greatest weakness but I'm betting better).

    The lack of rote or repetition makes for an interesting day.
     
  7. shoefan

    shoefan Well-Known Member

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    I doubt that Nicholas is doing the entire shoe; I would think he uses outworkers to do the 'making,'/bottoming. I'm sure he can let us know.



    I think the word was a 'jeff'? Someone who does the entire process from start to finish.
     
  8. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Thank you. :fonz:
     
  9. semperexcelsius

    semperexcelsius Well-Known Member

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    I'm almost positive I read somewhere that he would only outsource some stitching of the uppers, and only then if he was swamped. I couldn't tell you where, though.
     
  10. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    From what I gathered from his posts here and on the CC Janne Melkersohn is a Compleat shoemaker / Cordwainer. And I had a brief correspondence with Jan Petter Myhre that left me thinking he too was a "one man" shop.

    Anyone know one way or the other on either of these makers?
     
  11. semperexcelsius

    semperexcelsius Well-Known Member

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    @DWFII are you intentionally using "compleat?" I just found out it's an archaic spelling.
     
  12. shoefan

    shoefan Well-Known Member

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    I think Janne can do it all. However, at least in the past, Janne used Pelle to make his 'fully handmade' shoes, which featured handsewn outsoles. I think Pelle may have left the trade, so not sure what Janne does now.
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Yes.

    I'm a fly fisherman and when I think of Traditional shoemaking (or any body of knowledge with its roots in the long ago) I also think of Dame Juliana Berners and Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler ...don't ask me why. But it just seems appropriate to use the archaic spelling.

    Besides, I'm kind of of fascinated by words and their origins and meanings. Lost words, forgotten turns of phrase, "thieves cant," and Scots Gàidhlig, etc..

    All of it an undeniable affectation, but it amuses me...moreso than TV, for instance.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    I just got a PM stating that Jan Petter Myhre has an apprentice but otherwise is a Compleat Cordwainer.

    FWIW...
     
  15. dopey

    dopey Well-Known Member

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    Re tailoring on SR, note that every garment has a serial number and, despite the specialization, the serial number has the initials of the responsible party incorporated - always the cutter in my experience.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
  16. dopey

    dopey Well-Known Member

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    Janne Melkersohn used Pelle Kraft to make my shoes. I certainly have no complaints about that choice.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
  17. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    So...a question for @shoefan, @ntempleman, @Metroboy and anyone else who makes shoes or wishes to offer an opinion...

    Why do we make shoes? Why do any of us get into shoemaking?

    Passion? Money? Inertia?
     
  18. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm...No thoughts?

    Well, maybe 40+ years in the Trade gives me a unique perspective, after all. After 40+ years I know, unequivocally, why I make shoes.

    I didn't get into it for the money. IMO, there is no money in making shoes, esp. if you take the Compleat approach. I doubt anyone would be surprised at that considering one of the maxims/ rules of thumb that I live by and teach is that "a maker has to choose whether to make shoes or to make money. Because you can't do both." I've explained this in the past and there really is nothing world-shaking about that philosophy even if it is not a common one.

    Nor did I get into it from inertia or events overtaking me--it wasn't the only or the best job I could find and my Da didn't put me into a seven year apprenticeship when I was ten.

    I got into the Trade because every aspect of shoemaking makes me curious and challenges me and fuels my creativity. Spurs me to do my best every day and at every task.

    So...several thoughts seem to follow that certain knowledge...first, I have to ask myself who am I making shoes and boots for anyway? The clear answer, the honest answer...the only answer that can sustain the drive, the dedication, the interest, the joie de creer / joie de vivre, over a lifetime...is that I make shoes for myself (and to some extent the old, dead guys at my shoulder). The customer is just the catalyst.

    And if that's so, why should I not satisfy myself in every way possible? Why would I take shortcuts or pursue speed as a desired objective? Pursuing speed is a fool's game--if excellence is the objective, speed will come along, but if speed is the goal, excellence must always finish last.

    Why would I deprive myself of skill, understanding, even that sense of satisfaction and pride that comes from pursuing excellence and occasionally catching up to it?

    For that matter, why would I turn my back on Traditional skills because because some glittering gadget promises to be easier and faster?

    And why would I not want to learn and master every part of the Trade? Why would I limit myself?

    If I make shoes and boots for me, I am not competing with the guy down the street; or the factory up on the hill. I don't have to buy into the whole marketing / mass manufacturing / consumer mentality. Perhaps, I am unique in that perspective, as well. If I am competing with anyone, it is myself and the natural tendency of human beings to say "good enough," or "let someone else do it."



    Here’s tae us
    Wha’s like us
    Damn few,
    And they’re a’ deid
    Mair’s the pity!

    May those who live truly be always believed,
    And those who deceive us be always deceived.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  19. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Well-Known Member

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    Well, there are some places that make money and shoes. The thing is they charge insane amounts of money for their products as they have some sort of legacy, or brand cache.
     
  20. eljimberino

    eljimberino Well-Known Member

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    Must be quite handy to be able to make your own shoes.
     

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