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Alligator / Crocodile Shoes

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by SpooPoker, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. mr monty

    mr monty Senior member

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    Edward Green Westminster, Top Drawer Alligator

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. jonoft

    jonoft Member

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    "Actually, they are the last of the fine US made American Alligator shoes. Foot Joy sold these as a golf shoe model until maybe 10 years ago (may have been more recent). While pretty good shoes, they are (I believe) Goodyear welted and I cannot say wether it is hand-stitched or not. Foot Joy made an Alligator shoe in the 1940's that was handwelted hand-stitched and had unbelievable skins. I'll put up some pics of a model soon."

    The FootJoy plant in Brockton, MA closed in 2008. As late as 2007 you could still get these made to order shoes at a cost of $2750 which I find very reasonable. They are Goodyears, not hand-lasted nor hand-stiched, but nice workmanship all round and the skins are the thickest that I've seen at 1.8-2.0 mm.
     
  3. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I don't doubt that...at this point in the game it is hard to surprise or disgust me when it comes to manufacturers. My point was that even the smallest alligator skins are large enough for most styles to be made without weakening or cheapening the shoe.

    There is no logical reason to piece a saddle unless you feel the need to utilize scraps...to the detriment if the product.

    Even the monk strap pictured above would have looked more coherent and elegant if the vamp had been one piece.
     
  4. akhanijou

    akhanijou New Member

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    love it! especially when you can customize it yourself!
     
  5. akhanijou

    akhanijou New Member

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    wow nice looking shoes!
     
  6. isshinryu101

    isshinryu101 Senior member

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    lousy pieces as well!
     
  7. isshinryu101

    isshinryu101 Senior member

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    I never understood the Reptile on Reptile captoe. It is impossible to match correctly, and even harder to match to the other shoe. I prefer reptile captoes on suedes and calf vamp shoes.
     
  8. Xenon

    Xenon Senior member

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    You took the words right out of my mouth. If you are going all one type of skin and same color then the only resonable approach is the fewest pieces possible and the fewest visible seems. The showcase should be the skin and last shape in that case. You can really see this in the EG above where the captoe seems looks totally off as they appear to merge with the tile interstices on and off.
     
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Honestly, I couldn't disagree more. Since Foot Joy is no more, I will break my own rule and offer a little different perspective. Not to diss the shoes but simply to point out some aspects that may have been overlooked by the casual observer.

    First, I have already mentioned that piecing the saddle is poor practice and particularly in the case of alligator there is no logical reason for it.

    Second, the stitching on the lateral side of the saddle on the right foot...at the bottom of the saddle... is sloppy. It doesn't even meet the stitching on the medial side of the saddle. Part of this is down to the fact that the saddle is pieced. But the gimping doesn't match or align either.

    The left shoe is better, but still clumsy.

    The facings and topline are bound and not done with much finesse, in my opinion. Probably would have looked more refined with a bead.

    Third, the quarters and tongue look to be cut from the tail--which is, in most quality shops, considered marginal or even offal.

    Fourth, thickness is not the be-all and end all. Esp. in bombe' alligator where the leather tends to be semi-rigid when compared to something like calf. That said, and noting that I don't have a leather gauge handy, I suspect most contemporary alligator is running around 1.4mm or 3.5 ounce--comparable to, or maybe a tidge heavy, relative to a man's calfskin shoe. But I don't know how you would measure that thickness especially on a cut and bound shoe. If measured at the tongue I would expect the leather on the tail to be thicker.

    Fifth, I think eyelets are a sure indicator of a lower end shoe. Simply because eyelets are not needed if the shoe is made properly. And alligator is a dense leather so there's even less need.

    Finally I agree with Isshi, piecing reptile is aesthetic travesty and is usually done only to get every last penny out of a hide. Nothing wrong with economy as long as that's not the only consideration. What makes lizard and alligator so appealing...to those who like it...is the unique pattern created by the tiles. A pattern that naturally and gracefully blends from large to small, square to round. Breaking up that pattern more than is necessary to create a shoe style leaves the end result looking like it was cut from three different hides rather than one; or as if it were the remnants of three different shoes stitched together by an itinerant cobbler.

    Much of this is admittedly personal opinion...although based on experience and some uniquely intimate knowledge of both shoemaking and alligator. I offer it simply to share some insights from someone who is looking at these shoes with an uncommon eye.

    --
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
    2 people like this.
  10. mr monty

    mr monty Senior member

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    They dominated the urban market for over 30 years and they were not cheap (pricewise). They started selling shoes made from alligator tails and eyes. And were still over $1K for many styles.
     
  11. jonoft

    jonoft Member

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    I have been looking at these shoes with a untrained eye, and I stand corrected. Seems my comparison are mostly my Mezlan's (got to start somewhere) and from what I have learned in this forum they are concidered "crappy". I therefore have no objections to your comments, but would like to add the following:

    "Second, the stitching on the lateral side of the saddle on the right foot...at the bottom of the saddle... is sloppy. It doesn't even meet the stitching on the medial side of the saddle. Part of this is down to the fact that the saddle is pieced. But the gimping doesn't match or align either."

    I have attached a close up photo that better shows what DWFII found.

    "Third, the quarters and tongue look to be cut from the tail--which is, in most quality shops, considered marginal or even offal."

    The quarters I believe are made from where the belly meet the flank. The tongue could be tail, but does it not look like belly too? (see photo).

    "Fourth, thickness is not the be-all and end all. Esp. in bombe' alligator where the leather tends to be semi-rigid when compared to something like calf. That said, and noting that I don't have a leather gauge handy, I suspect most contemporary alligator is running around 1.4mm or 3.5 ounce--comparable to, or maybe a tidge heavy, relative to a man's calfskin shoe. But I don't know how you would measure that thickness especially on a cut and bound shoe. If measured at the tongue I would expect the leather on the tail to be thicker."

    My gauge shows that the quarters (flank area) are 1.8mm as a minimum and the tongue (belly area) is 1.5mm. For comparison my contemporary Mezlan's are 0.8mm. I also have some Artioli's being 1.0mm and vintage F. Pinet and Banister/Stetson being 1.2mm and 1.3mm respectively.

    Saddle front
    [​IMG]

    Quarter
    [​IMG]

    Tongue
    [​IMG]

    Mezlan and FootJoy
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
  12. jonoft

    jonoft Member

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    These are my Banister alligator shoes dating to 1956. Banister was made by Stetson Shoe Co. at that time, but supposed to be slightly more up-scale. Made of several pieces (10) I guess
    they should be considered being the Mezlans of the 50's, or? They cost $61 which is todays $465 using the inflation calculator. Similar style Mezlans costs $700 to $1000 so either they were good value at that time or the Mezlans of today are "over priced".


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. jonoft

    jonoft Member

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    These pieced together Ferragamos ran $2000 some 8-10 years ago so maybe the Banisters were real good value.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. isshinryu101

    isshinryu101 Senior member

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    Actually, Stetson was an upscale maker thru the 1940's. Closed channel sole, hand-welted, all the fixin's & trimmin's. It is impossible to make a comparison on shoe prices based on the economic value of a dollar. Go back even further (20's), and the best of the best shoes only cost in the $300 range in today's dollars (or less, I crunched the numbers a few years back). Shoes, even the finest of them, were more of a utility item. There are a LOT of members here who own in excess of 50 pairs of shoes, and that was an extreme rarity many decades back. Luxury items comprised a much lower percentage of a person's actual yearly income.
    Here you see the value of marketing and name-branding. The name "Ferragamo" itself gets one 2x the price of the same shoe that says "Mezlan".
     
  15. isshinryu101

    isshinryu101 Senior member

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    By the way, how did you come up with "1956" as an exact date for those Banisters?
     
  16. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    If you look...with new-found eyes :satisfied:...at all the alligator/crocodile shoes posted recently, you can see the difference between the quality of the leather and that used on the FJ's. With the closer views, I am still not entirely convinced that the tongue and quarters (around the heel) are not tail. I'd have to handle the shoes to be sure. But If not tail, then definitely cutting room floor scraps from a very large hide.

    Look at the shape and size of the tiles on the other makers shoes...as much as I deplore the piecing...that's the way alligator should look. In my opinion.

    Again...some people don't like alligator. To each his own. But I wonder how much of that is simply the aesthetic confusion that is created by piecing. There was a pair of whole cut G&G (?) posted recently that were unimpeachably beautiful. A good part of it is the harmony and refinement that comes along with respecting the leather and letting it speak for itself.
     
    1 person likes this.
  17. isshinryu101

    isshinryu101 Senior member

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    A true artist's informed opinion is inspiring.
     
  18. jonoft

    jonoft Member

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    "Actually, Stetson was an upscale maker thru the 1940's. Closed channel sole, hand-welted, all the fixin's & trimmin's."

    I did not mean that Stetson were not "upscale", but the son of a former salesman at Stetson wrote in another forum that his father sold both. Stetson had aquired the Banister name in the forties and sold the Banister labeled Stetsons for more.

    "It is impossible to make a comparison on shoe prices based on the economic value of a dollar"

    I should have known this, but it is good to know that others have thought about it in the same way.

    "By the way, how did you come up with "1956" as an exact date for those Banisters?"

    There was a receipt (and spare laces) in the shoes.

    "But If not tail, then definitely cutting room floor scraps from a very large hide."

    Scraps? That hurts me.....,but you are probably right :). You have opened my eyes and I am happy to have learned something today. Maybe my Artiolis meet with your approval?
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
  19. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    You need to understand...when it comes to shoes and shoemaking, I try to speak always of what I know. It is so seldom that I get to express an opinion--personal likes and dislikes--because to do so not only implies criticism of the maker but also, apparently, of the owner (something I don't understand, frankly, but there it is and it's very real here on SF).

    Despite all that, even in this conversation, I am trying not to criticize the maker as much as the vision and the aesthetics. And I do that only to help people here look...see...what they are viewing. Whether I approve of your other shoes or not is moot, esp. if you don't understand what I'm getting at with regard to the FJs. And if you do understand, then it's far more important that you like them than that I do. And more importantly even than that, that you understand why you like or don't like them.

    In your first post with these shoes you presented them as "American workmanship at it's best". Which, in my mind, was a stretch...even the alligator was not premium. At first I backed off from commenting but when the conversation seemed to grow legs and someone mentioned that the maker had gone tips up, I just felt it was a perfect opportunity to share some insights. I hope you don't mind.
     
  20. isshinryu101

    isshinryu101 Senior member

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    I have read the thread as well...

    http://www.styleforum.net/t/227490/banister-shoes

    Stetson sold an entirely different line of shoes under the Banister name... not the same models under both, but higher price for one over the other. Understandable that this could be a guess, because this is often done today. But in the case of Stetson & Banister, not the case.

    Also, the Stetson styles were always more fashion forward (for the time) thru the mid to late 50's . They were also sold for more money than the Banisters
     

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