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Vass book on handmade shoes

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by josepidal, May 14, 2006.

  1. josepidal

    josepidal Well-Known Member

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    How thorough is this book as a shoe bible? It's largely about construction and has little on style, right?

    Incidentally, how reliable is the listing of shoemakers at the end? For example, it does not list Edward Green, but has Berluti.
     
  2. medwards

    medwards Well-Known Member

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    It is an exceptional book on shoe construction, a good book on shoe style, and an incomplete -- and somewhat dated -- book on shoemakers.
     
  3. RJman

    RJman Well-Known Member

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    Very well put.
     
  4. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Well-Known Member

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    It's a book aimed at the lay person, explaining how a shoe is made. With that brief in mind, it does it's job extremely well. It is not a textbook for those who want to learn, how to actually produce shoes. There are proper technical books on shoemaking (mostly published 50 or more years ago). They might have the various techniques explained with line drawings, but have no glossy pictures.

    The majority of shoe pictures in the book come from Vass' own workshop which is stylistically within the Austro/Hungarian tradition of shoemaking. One day we might have that big coffee table book of shoe porn. (aportnoy, do you listen?)

    Right at the moment Vass' book is the only game in town and it is the best book we have on the topic (until a better one comes along).
     
  5. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Well-Known Member

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    How thorough is this book as a shoe bible? It's largely about construction and has little on style, right?

    Incidentally, how reliable is the listing of shoemakers at the end? For example, it does not list Edward Green, but has Berluti.



    It is a book on HANDMADE shoes n'est-ce pas?
     
  6. Roger

    Roger Well-Known Member

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    It is an exceptional book on shoe construction, a good book on shoe style, and an incomplete -- and somewhat dated -- book on shoemakers.
    In my opinion, it's a pretty good (although not very comprehensive) book on welted shoe construction. In this regard, and because it deals with hand-made shoes, it deals with only hand-skived feathers, with the result that it doesn't describe an important part of the welting process that applies to most welted shoes, including the very best RTW and special-order shoes like EG that employ a linen feather and Goodyear stitching. The book would have been far more useful, in my opinion, had it covered other methods of construction as well (Blake, Blake-Rapid, Bolognese, and so on), as these are certainly used in many very fine hand-made shoes (like Lattanzi, for example). Thus, rather than exceptional, I would grade it as good (but limited) vis-a-vis shoe construction.

    As for style, I would rate it as fair, but not really that good. Vass is part of--and in some ways almost defines--a certain esthetic in shoe design. Where I feel the book is lacking is in providing any real understanding of and enthusiasm for the Italian esthetic and those shoe designers and makers who have been involved in its evolution. There is an alternative--to solidly-made welted shoes--greatly appreciated by many, involving light, sleek, trim shoes that have thinner soles, lighter construction generally, and a certain liveliness to them, and this tradition is largely absent from Vass's treatment.

    Overall, the book is a very interesting read, but in my opinion falls far short of providing a comprehensive treatment of the topic.
     
  7. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Well-Known Member

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    The book would have been far more useful, in my opinion, had it covered other methods of construction as well (Blake, Blake-Rapid, Bolognese, and so on), as these are certainly used in many very fine hand-made shoes (like Lattanzi, for example). Thus, rather than exceptional, I would grade it as good (but limited) vis-a-vis shoe construction.



    I am almost certain that Lattanzi does not use blake construction methods. It has to be done by machine, and that is not what they do. I know that they do a moccasin style construction, but that is sewn by hand.

    Also, it is important to separate goodyear (machine) from hand-welted.
     
  8. Roger

    Roger Well-Known Member

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    I am almost certain that Lattanzi does not use blake construction methods. It has to be done by machine, and that is not what they do. I know that they do a moccasin style construction, but that is sewn by hand.
    I wasn't attributing Blake construction (which of course is a machine process), specifically, to Lattanzi, but rather was attributing "other [than welted] methods of construction" to him. It is well known that Lattanzi does use other-than-welted methods of construction, and I strongly suspect that one of these would be a hand-sewn analog of Blake construction--i.e., a single stitching attaching the uppers, insole, and outsole. My point was that there are non-welted but legitimate methods of producing hand-made shoes, yet these are absent from Vass's treatment. However, you're correct in pointing out that Blake (and Blake-Rapid) stitching would not strictly quality as hand-made techniques.

    Also, it is important to separate goodyear (machine) from hand-welted.
    I think I clearly separated Goodyear-stitched (hence machine) welted construction from hand-welting, pointing out that this kind of construction is found on the very best RTW shoes! Some would see it as unnecessary to include this process in a book on hand-made shoes, but I think that a more scholarly and comprehensive treatment would have included it in more detail to provide a greater perspective--and because probably 99.9% of welted shoes are made this way--in which to embed his treatment of hand techniques.

    Edit: Oh, and incidentally, Edward Green does offer hand-made shoes in their bespoke program (if your point in responding to Josipedal above was to suggest that this maker didn't belong in the listing of shoemakers at the end). (That was certainly the case when Vass wrote the book, although there is now some question about their continuation of the program with Tony Gaziano's departure.)
     
  9. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Well-Known Member

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    It is well known that Lattanzi does use other-than-welted methods of construction, and I strongly suspect that one of these would be a hand-sewn analog of Blake construction--i.e., a single stitching attaching the uppers, insole, and outsole.
    Sorry if I insulted you. For the record, Lattanzi does several constructions. They are welted, Norvegese, Norvegese treccia, 4-stitch, Bentivegna and Berlino. He also does a limited number of hand sewn moccasins and driving shoes. The only one that he does that is at all akin to Blake is a moccasin, but it is actually quite different. I only know this because I took a long look at the full pricelist the last time that I was there. If there is some other construction that they do which is well-known, it is not known to me. I agree that the other constructions (like goodyear and blake) are worth knowing about, but they do not really belong in a hand made shoe book. The one from Vass seems more like a sales tool and since he does not really do other ocnstructions, he has no reason to show them.
     
  10. Roger

    Roger Well-Known Member

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    Iammatt, not insulted at all; just wanted to clarify. I don't understand why you would say that construction methods other than welting do not really belong in a hand made shoe book (I'm talking about hand, not machine, methods, and thus am not including Blake or Goodyear construction in this point). My contention is that in a well-researched, comprehensive treatment of the subject, these other methods would be covered. Besides Lattanzi, there are probably dozens, or more, makers of hand-made shoes (many in Italy), like Stefano Bemer, for example, who I suspect use methods other than welting in their shoes, along with their welted offerings. Perhaps you are right about Vass's motives in writing the book--I've seen this sentiment expressed before. But in responding to the original question posed in this thread--"How thorough is this book as a shoe bible"--it has to be seen as not that thorough, for the reasons stated, regardless of what Vass's motivations may or may not have been.
     
  11. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Well-Known Member

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    Iammatt, not insulted at all; just wanted to clarify. I don't understand why you would say that construction methods other than welting do not really belong in a hand made shoe book (I'm talking about hand, not machine, methods, and thus am not including Blake or Goodyear construction in this point). My contention is that in a well-researched, comprehensive treatment of the subject, these other methods would be covered. Besides Lattanzi, there are probably dozens, or more, makers of hand-made shoes (many in Italy), like Stefano Bemer, for example, who I suspect use methods other than welting in their shoes, along with their welted offerings. Perhaps you are right about Vass's motives in writing the book--I've seen this sentiment expressed before. But in responding to the original question posed in this thread--"How thorough is this book as a shoe bible"--it has to be seen as not that thorough, for the reasons stated, regardless of what Vass's motivations may or may not have been.


    I agree with what you are saying. I am not communicating very well this morning.
     
  12. Roger

    Roger Well-Known Member

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    Iammatt, if I may veer off topic for a minute (sorry Josepidal), you obviously know infinitely more about Lattanzi shoes than I do--having been to the company in Italy. I've often thought it would be nice to own a pair, but the prices I've seen quoted for RTW in NYC have been astronomical ($2000 and up). So here's my question: I know that RTW is not what Lattanzi is most noted for, but they do produce some, I gather. Can you purchase RTW right at the Lattanzi operation in Italy--or, failing that, at a nearby Italian shoe store--for reasonable prices? If so, what is the price range? I might be in Italy in the next year or so and, if a reasonably-priced purchase were possible, would make it a point to try to find a pair of Lattanzis.
     
  13. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure that they are any less noted for RTW than for bespoke. They produce quite a bit. I do not think that they are ever really resonably priced, but at their shops in Milan and Rome they might be a touch less than in NY.
     
  14. tiger02

    tiger02 Well-Known Member

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    Where I feel the book is lacking is in providing any real understanding of and enthusiasm for the Italian esthetic and those shoe designers and makers who have been involved in its evolution.

    I haven't seen the book yet. Was it written prior to Vass' joint venture with Ugolini? It seems to me that Vass' ability to produce an Italianate shoe (U- and F- lasts) has greatly increased their market.

    Tom
     
  15. Teacher

    Teacher Well-Known Member

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    I haven't seen the book yet. Was it written prior to Vass' joint venture with Ugolini? It seems to me that Vass' ability to produce an Italianate shoe (U- and F- lasts) has greatly increased their market.

    Tom


    It was published in 1999.
     
  16. UR003

    UR003 Active Member

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    Iammatt, if I may veer off topic for a minute (sorry Josepidal), you obviously know infinitely more about Lattanzi shoes than I do--having been to the company in Italy. I've often thought it would be nice to own a pair, but the prices I've seen quoted for RTW in NYC have been astronomical ($2000 and up). So here's my question: I know that RTW is not what Lattanzi is most noted for, but they do produce some, I gather. Can you purchase RTW right at the Lattanzi operation in Italy--or, failing that, at a nearby Italian shoe store--for reasonable prices? If so, what is the price range? I might be in Italy in the next year or so and, if a reasonably-priced purchase were possible, would make it a point to try to find a pair of Lattanzis.
    In Holland, their RTW line starts at 1600 EUR. The shoes I saw were Bentivegna made. If you ever visit Italy, but are unable to visit Lattanzi himself, you should definitely pay a visit to his stores in Milan (2) and Rome. You will see amazing shoes, and b*tt ugly ones too - just take a look at their website to see examples of the latter. With regard to their pricing: perhaps they are a bit cheaper - or should I say less expensive - in Italy, but you won't be able to pay back your ticket by buying a larger number of pairs in Europe.
     
  17. A Harris

    A Harris Well-Known Member

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    It also shold be noted that the focus is primarily on custom shoes, not RTW.
     
  18. RJman

    RJman Well-Known Member

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    It also shold be noted that the focus is primarily on custom shoes, not RTW.
    That reminds me -- there's a seller in Germany who can sell the book to you for $5 delivered... [​IMG] j/k.
     
  19. Film Noir Buff

    Film Noir Buff Well-Known Member

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    That reminds me -- there's a seller in Germany who can sell the book to you for $5 delivered... [​IMG] j/k.


    Lol thats fun.

    Although I do note that I bought my copy of the book for under $7 new on Amazon's used and new a couple of years ago and now the book goes for just under $50 used!

    Never read it, loved the photos.
     
  20. josepidal

    josepidal Well-Known Member

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    $50 is way too high an estimate, I think.
     

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