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An interview

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by DWFII, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    No neoprene cement...even heat activated...is instantaneously secured. In fact, as long as the cement is warm there is a chance...small but real...that it will move. I suspect that the reason some companies use pinked edge gemming and some don't comes back to the machinery that is used to feed and position the gemming on the insole. A machine designed to feed one type won't necessarily feed the other. Since such machines are a major investment, companies, want to milk them for all they are worth and typically won't replace them unless or until, they are fully depreciated and used up.

    Adversely affects the bottom line, don't you know?
     
  2. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Senior member

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    The bottom line concept does make sense from a strict business perspective. However, if the smooth edged gemming really is superior, then here we go again with the frustrating cycle that companies that call themselves the "finest" are not only using an inferior construction process, but they are also using inferior components within that process.
     
  3. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    When all is said and done, I seriously doubt that one type of gemming is functionally all that much better that the other. And any argument preferring one or the other...beyond feed considerations...would have to be pretty attenuated/niggling.
     
  4. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Senior member

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    In all likelihood, you are probably right about that.
     
  5. FlyingMonkey

    FlyingMonkey Senior member

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    DWFII, I was interested in what you said about the Blake/Rapid method being superior to Goodyear. Can you (or anyone else who is knowledgeable in this area) say a little more about why? I've always like the aesthetics of my Blake-welted shoes and I always suspected that the prevailing wisdom in this and other sites that handsewn > Goodyear > Blake was incorrect. And where does Norwegian welting fit in to all this?
     
  6. emptym

    emptym Senior member Moderator

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    ^Blake is not the same as blake-rapid. Blake simply stitches the sole to the upper. Blake-rapid does that and then stitches another sole to the first sole.

    Blake's stitches are visible on the inside footbed (unless there's a full sock liner) and on the bottom of the shoe (unless there's a closed channel covering them). Blake-rapid has an additional row of visible stitching on the upper outside "lip" of the first sole. So from the from the outside blake-rapid looks like a welted sole, but you can also see stitches on the inside footbed of the shoe as well, as on a Blake-stitched shoe.

    In terms of advantages/disadvantages, most think blake's advantage is the possibility of a thin, supple sole. But many think the difference is negligible between that and welted. It's also probably the cheapest way to make a sole (of the methods not just using glue). As I see it there are two commonly argued disadvantages of blake (1) since the stitches go straight from the sole to the footbed, it can wick water from outside to the foot, and (2) since the stitches are sewn to the upper and resoling can poke new holes in leather, the shoe can't be resoled very many times. Welting and blake-rapid solve these problems.

    There are pics of the various types of construction in several places on the forum. Ron Rider's boots are often made with B-R. And if you search, you'll find some interesting discussions between Ron and DW about this a couple years back on the forum. Bengalstripe has made some informative and pic-heavy posts too, as did A. Harris years ago. But I think all of AH's pics have been lost.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
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  7. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Senior member

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    Blake/Rapid being superior to Goodyear-welted is based on the fact that Blake/Rapid doesn't depend on anything other than leather and thread for holding the shoe together. Insole quality is crucial to Blake/Rapid being substantially better than Goodyear-welted. The potential for gemming failure in Goodyear-welted shoes is a weak point that doesn't exist in Blake Rapid. However, Blake/Rapid is not without it's detractors. I also don't know of any Blake/Rapid shoes that fall within the same price range as "non-luxury" Goodyear-welted shoes (Luxury being JL, EG, G&G, and any others above $1,000.00) that don't use cheap insoles. Aubercy uses Blake/Rapid, but at their price, you might as well go with hand-welted which is considered superior anyway. Rancourt & Co. makes Blake/Rapid shoes and boots, but the insoles are simply fiberboard or leatherboard wrapped with some thin leather. If anyone knows of some Blake/Rapid shoes out there that are made from the highest quality materials that aren't priced so high that they essentially nullify the purpose for not buying hand-welted, I'd love to know about them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
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  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Just thought I would mention that keikari.com (vraivio's blog) has interviews with several other SF members (Bengal-Stripe, for one) as well as with Tony Gaziano, Lazlo Vass, etc.. All in March. Worth reading.

    It also appears he has removed the link to the Public Broadcasting video in my interview. Maybe copyright/permission issues?
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  9. VRaivio

    VRaivio Senior member

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    Many thanks for the tip, DW. The PB interview video, I found it online and shared the link with the text. They haven't been in contact with me. If PB has removed it from their site, it's gone from Keikari, too.

    I have around three dozen interviews in queue for the site, and around a dozen still waiting for replies. Some renowned, suprising and familiar names included.
     
  10. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Senior member

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    Definitely more great interviews. DW, I was wondering if you would mind giving me your insight into quality differences between different oak bark tanned soles. I've done some reading here and there, but like other topics (like gemming), information that is straight and to the point (not to mention unbiased) is a bit hard to find. I know you may not be able to say that you have no bias, but I am still hoping you can explain why leather tanned using oak bark in the old world methods by companies like Baker's seem to produce a better leather than others. In other words, most of the companies describe their soles as being oak tanned, but some companies distinguish by saying that they use "genuine oak bark tanned soles, rather than leather tanned using oak bark techniques." I think I remember you saying that you favor Baker's over JR. What's the difference, and why is one superior than the other? I get it if it simply comes down to a difference in the source of cowhides. I know cowhides are going to vary in quality depending on source, climate, health, etc. But the vibe I seem to get is that the actual tanning process is the main difference. Thanks in advance!
     
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    vraivio,

    I don't know if they have removed it. I would find that strange. But when I was on the blog yesterday, I was printing out the interview for a friend of mine (the rancher who came in during the video) and noticed that there wasn't even a link on keikari...not even a defunct one. It was just above the photos as I recall and not there yesterday.
     
  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I can't remember the author's name...Waterson (?), Waterman (?)...but he wrote nearly the definitive textbook on Leather Chemistry.

    First, IIRC, he states pretty unequivocally that oak tanned leathers are the best, and wear the best (speaking of soling leather). So chestnut tannages may be close, valona (acorn caps) may be close, but nothing beats oak. Baker is one of the few if not the only tanner in the world still using 100% pure oak bark. Many leathers are touted as oak tanned but it is a synthetic tannage that contains little or no oak. Usually you can see that in a pinkish colour cast . Many contemporary bark tannages are quebacho--a South American tree that doesn't even begin to compare with oak tan. And a lot of stuff is a combination of easily obtainable barks and snyth-tans.

    Second, Baker leaves the hides in the pits for up to, and in some cases more than, a full 12 months. Naturally the longer the hides are in the pits the better the leather will be. Again, Baker stands out as one of the few if not the only company in the world willing to defer cash flow for a better product.

    It's dern hard to get Baker in the US. And it's not easy to deal with some old school companies particularly in the UK. They don't have, or don't really trust, email or PayPal and often find that the wealth of customers that the internet has gifted them with is more hassle than they want. I sometimes have this vision of the accountants at Baker sitting at high chairs with a goose quill pen trying to keep up with the 21C...ala Bob Crachitt.

    I don't know that the hides or the quality of the raw hides are that big a factor. European hides tend to be thinner and come more from dairy cattle than meat cattle. Much of the outsoling coming into the US these days is coming from Argentina where the beef cattle industry is big. But even the hides coming from American feed lots tend to be heavier than European hides--it's the breed more than anything I suspect.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  13. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Senior member

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    Thanks for the detailed response! It is discouraging to hear that companies are claiming oak tanned leather when in fact it is actually a synthetic material with little to no oak. I assume by your comment above about the "pinkish colour cast" you mean that the leather (when roughed up a bit) may have a pinkish hue? I have seen that. So what is it that makes JR leather inferior to Baker's in your opinion? JR mentions fruit on their website as being part of their tanning agents, so perhaps they aren't using 100% oak bark, and that is the difference. Everything else seems to be the same between the two tanneries.
     
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Rendenbach tends to be far more brittle than the Baker. I believe that you could take a prime outsole and bend it sufficiently to crack the grain. I've used it, I don't like it, I don't think it wears as well as the chestnut much less than the Baker and Rendenbach stamps all their outsoles on the grain side making it both hard to finish and a walking advertisement for Rendenbach. If I wanted my shoes to carry any other logo than my own, I'd approach Coca-cola and make some money while I'm at it.

    And JR insoles are flintier and harder to cut than Baker by a long shot. I'd go with select Mexican shoulders before a JR insole shoulder.

    And no...as far as I know Rendenbach has never been oak bark tanned. It was always valona...which is acorn caps-- oak in origin but not bark.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  15. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Senior member

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    This is a bold statement... but it sounds to me like this may be just as big of a case of trying to "pull the wool over the eyes" of consumers as gemming is. Granted, gemming failure is a much larger issue than a sole simply wearing more quickly. However, there seems to be a general belief out there that while oak bark tanning is the best method, it is also readily available, and that JR is the biggest supplier of said leather. Check out these sites when you have a few minutes just to name a few.

    http://www.lederfabrik-rendenbach.de/1/company-profile/

    http://dieworkwear.com/post/12840207540/the-beauty-of-oak-bark-tanned-leather

    http://leffot.com/2008/06/28/oak-bark-leather-what-is-it-exactly/

    I am disappointed to hear that many companies claiming "oak leather" soles are in fact not really that. I wonder if companies using valona are claiming their leather to be oak bark tanned since it is "oak in origin" and they are just comfortable with the deceit, believing that customers will never know the difference.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  16. VRaivio

    VRaivio Senior member

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    Done and done, the old video is now back on Keikari.

    I inquired from Baker's about their oak bark leather soles a few weeks ago. I was interested in buying a few units for re-solings and my own tests, this is what I received:

    'Further to your email of 19th February, we do supply cut soles. Our minimum order is £500 ex tannery.

    We assure you of our best attention.
    Yours,
    Andrew Parr'

    As for pricing:

    'BEST GENTS CUT HALF SOLES
    8/8 ½ iron 9/9 ½ iron 10/11 iron
    Size 9 £6.25 £6.50
    Size 11 £6.45 £6.65'
     
  17. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    The first link says this: "[COLOR=FF0000]Nature supplies the main ingredients for the tan mixture used in traditional oak-bark ground-tanning; primarily oak, spruce and mimosa bark as well as valonea fruit[/COLOR]. "

    On the other hand, I could be wrong...all I know is what I have been told about Rendenbach since time out of mind and what my experiences with it has been. I do have preferences.

    Then too, things do change.

    Beyond that, "spin" is the way of the world. Nothing surprising there. It's why ignorance is the primary killer of white anglo-saxon males under the age of 60. :cool:

    --
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  18. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Great! Glad it's back...I look so young and buff in it.

    The HCC has on several occasions created Buyer's Consortiums (we are a non-profit) to buy from Baker. and while the management has always been courteous and genial and we have always gotten our orders (and they've been correct) it is still like pulling teeth. Sometimes months go by just trying to finalize the order and have it recognized.

    That's just the way it is, I guess. Nevertheless I will forever be a fan and consider it the premium insole leather in the world.

    --
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  19. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Senior member

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    Ahh, thanks, I missed that link.
     
  20. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Mind you...I'm not saying Rendenbach is junk ...if there were no Baker, I would probably like it better (except for insoling).

    I used it for years...as it is readily available in the US (unlike Baker)...but quit it because of the branding and when a Belgian chestnut tannage became available.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013

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