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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. isshinryu101

    isshinryu101 Well-Known Member

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    I have a question that has been posed to me by a couple other shoe lovers. I am putting it here because it is about shoemaking + I am interested in what DWFII will say, and he posts on this thread often.

    This question refers to the "heel curve" on ankle boots that is best seen from the side view. In many vintage boots, there is a pronounced heel curve where the back of the boot curves inward over the achilles tendon/ back of calf. It is undoubtedly a nice aesthetic feature when viewing boots from the side. Here is a 1940's ankle boot.

    [​IMG]

    I am not talking about the entire side view of the boot, merely the heel area.

    However, this curve seems to have almost disappeared (or at least shrunk a lot) over the years. Here is an example of a pair by Saint Crispins

    [​IMG]

    The heel is much more straight up and down with a much smaller curve. What is the reason for this. fit, comfort, aesthetics, or a combo of all 3, or something else? THANKS in advance.
     
  2. itraxx

    itraxx Well-Known Member

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    My guess would be to allow for easier entry into the boot.
     
  3. isshinryu101

    isshinryu101 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, but I have enough guesses at it is. Looking for answers.
     
  4. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Some of this is just fashion trends, believe it or not. Back in the late 18th/early 19th century tall boots all leaned back, intentionally. The boots Hoby made for Arthur Wellsley had this extreme lean. Why? It was thought that it presented better when a "leg" was made at court.

    Despite popular myth right and left lasts actually pre-dated straights (which came into being when heels were introduced) and then, when fashion dictated a more "natural"/organic/ locovore trend in everything, the rights and lefts came back into vogue.

    If you make patterns from the old pattern books...Golding, Swaysland, Patrick , etc.--you'll find that most of the older methods result in that anatomically-correct-but-somewhat-extreme-to-modern-eyes curvature at the back of the shoe, which is especially evident on high top shoes or boots. I like it, myownself, but I have made chukkas and other styles of high top shoes with a straighter back curve as well. Both ways IOW.

    The best shoe lasts just naturally have a deep curve to the back of the last, although some people find that it bites "them." It certainly bit me...bad...when I first started wearing shoes after a lifetime of pull-on boots.

    This pair of sueded (reverse calf) chukkas has a slightly straighter back curve--I deliberately straightened the back curve on the last. But my jodhpurs and whole cut chelseas definitely have that deep curve.

    All that said, a goodly part of this is also driven by manufacturers catering to a wider range of customers/foot shapes--statistical averages--and even the perception that the shoe will be easier to get into (which is not necessarily true, esp. if the shoe is made correctly).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    --
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  5. JermynStreet

    JermynStreet Well-Known Member

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    Stunning ostrich jodhpurs! DWF, I forget whether you do your own lasting. If you do, how did you get your start? If not, where do you get your lasts made?
     
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Here in the US, the tradition is to do everything yourself or nothing. There are no outworkers, IOW.

    If by "lasting" you mean making the last, I do not carve them from formless blocks of wood the way Delos does. Again, this is kind of a "tradition" here in the states (note that I did not capitalize "tradition")...hand carving of lasts is nearly unheard of here.

    I designed my lasts starting with some lasts I knew, drastically cutting away the material that was not wanted (quite a bit of work actually) then sent them off to a lastmaker to make prototypes from which sized lasts could be turned.

    That's what I start with...sized lasts...and then I cut or add according to the measurements. I currently have a customer whose foot looks like a 9C in my lasts--the heelseat width, the treadline width, the heel to ball length, as well as the pedographic "footprint", all are 9C almost exactly. But all the girth measurements are 2cm +/- larger than a standard 9C. So I have to build the last oversize and then "sculpt" it/cut it back down to measurement. Pretty exacting work, in fact.

    If by "lasting" you mean drafting/pulling the leather over the last...which is what we mean when we say "lasting"...again, no outworkers, I do it all from start to finish. It's all me, all my responsibility.

    And thank you for the kind words about the jodhpurs...the ostrich was not an easy leather to block.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
  7. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    BTW, you can click on the photos and get a larger view. My wife actually made the reverse calf chukkas...although I bottomed them (to her specs).
     
  8. sinnedk

    sinnedk Well-Known Member

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    :uhoh:
     
  9. hendrix

    hendrix Well-Known Member

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    sinnedk once again displays his poor taste and inability to comprehend anything beyond current SF groupthink.
     
    2 people like this.
  10. sinnedk

    sinnedk Well-Known Member

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    :foo:
     
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    No big deal. I made the jodhpurs for a very wealthy customer who spends part of the year flyfishing from his retirement home on the Metolius River and the rest of the year between Florida and and Missouri. He's an old man...probably in his mid to late 70's. It was his call...I didn't question it, I don't worry about it.

    From a shoemaker's perspective, it was a challenge and the shoes turned out pretty damn good. I make shoes, I don't give fashion advice.

    No, and I'm not his mother, either.

    --
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  12. VRaivio

    VRaivio Well-Known Member

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    ...while we're still on the topic of heel curves, take a look at these pairs from Scheer:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I find these straight shapes disgusting. The maker must have a strange methods for shaping proper heel support if these aren't show-pieces.
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    If the foot is held firmly enough into the back of the shoe; if the topline is narrow enough; if the heel stiffener is a bit soft, the shoes should hold the foot fine.

    After all, pull-on boots have a near-as-nevermind straight heel stiffener and a very firm heel stiffener as well and they hold the foot fine once they break in. But we have to be extremely careful of the short heel and the long heel girths to accomplish that and I don't know too many shoemakers (aside from myself...a holdover from my bootmaking) who even measure the short or long heel on the foot much less apply it to the last.

    But I'm with you, I don't care for the look.

    --
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
  14. sinnedk

    sinnedk Well-Known Member

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    its the heel that kills it for me, but thats just my opinion. there is no question those boots are well made and have a cool leather.
     
  15. meister

    meister Well-Known Member

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    This.

    This thread is not about I like/dislike pictured shoes FWIW. There is a thread called Shoe Porn for that.

    It is about the manufacture of bespoke footwear and the technology/skills that go into that endeavour.

    Please keep it serious.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
  16. JermynStreet

    JermynStreet Well-Known Member

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    DWF, I know you are obviously a wearer of only bespoke shoes, but those are currently out of my reach, price-wise. What RTW shoes would you choose if you had to choose a pair?
     
  17. Xenon

    Xenon Well-Known Member

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    This one looks to have an ideal heel curve. The overall profile is quite beautiful as well , lots of shape and appropriate curves. It sounds however like you don't care that much for the look. I mean perhaps I wouldn't have chosen ostrich but everything else seems very appropriate and tasteful. What would you have done differently if they were for you?
     
  18. Xenon

    Xenon Well-Known Member

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    Can you expand on which lastmaker/s you use. For instance, if I have a bespoke last that I like which I cut from a block of wood and want to make RTW lasts versions in varying standards widths and lengths, is that something your lastmaker can do? Basically I don't know how to convert a bespoke last to RTW.
     
  19. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    I've always made it a point to neither disparage nor specifically extol any particular maker or manufacturer. I talk about technique and quality that derives from technique and the choices every craftsman/maker makes...and the consequences of those choices. Sometimes such discussions become associated with a particular maker but not by my intent. I can't remember the last time I actually mentioned the name of a maker.

    Frankly, with regard to RTW, while there are some that I like better than others, some obvious standouts, at a certain level they're all the same to me.

    That said, it's worth noting that there are more than a few competent bespoke makers who do not charge much more...and in some cases, not as much...as the more well known RTW makers. Which has always been a sore spot for me--the disparity of value considering the expediencies taken and the compromises made.

    If a potential customer is so exacting and discerning that he/she can see and appreciate the differences/nuances between one manufactured shoe brand versus another and if you can get a bespoke shoe made for not much more than high end RTW, there is no reason in the world why the customer cannot find a maker that will deliver a truly outstanding product for a relatively remarkable price. All it takes is a certain mindfulness and a hard look at the workmanship of the maker. The only thing forfeit is the cachet of a well known brand--the ability to brag "Yes, yes, they're AllThatGlitters...The finest shoes in Elbonia...and cost a months pay."
     
    1 person likes this.
  20. mimo

    mimo Well-Known Member

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    Wise words, DWF.

    Regarding those boots, as you said it's a matter of taster. I'm rather ambivalent about ostrich and its quill marks, don't especially love jodphur boots, and rather dislike the cuban-style heel on those. But they're not my boots.

    More relevant to the point at hand is what really strikes me about them: they look a lot like a foot! The shape of the boot, from the heel right through the instep and ball, is remarkably natural. Rather than a new boot, it's almost as if it has lived on a foot for a while. That's a testament to you as a maker, your last and the time the leather has spent on it, no doubt.

    So like it or not, this is a boot that looks bespoke and then some. And isn't that what this is all about?
     

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