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Antonio Meccariello Shoes

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by goodlensboy, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. thatshoeotaku

    thatshoeotaku Member

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    This is a very narrow definition of what a shoe should be. I respect that you as a shoemaker, your core values are centered around the quality of your product. And trust me I understand that choice and am struggling to come to terms with it more so than you would imagine. However it's really not a binary choice. It's a continuum that you can choose from, for e.g. machine sewn uppers vs handsewn upper, handstiched outsole vs machine stitched soles and the big controversial one handwelted vs GYW.

    Your choice to focus on quality and construction is respected by me and your customers, but it does not diminish other values that other brands might choose to serve in the market. Does it diminish the shoe if quality and construction is compromised. Yes it does, but not necessarily the other values, consumers or brands.

    Edit: Just reread your comments, fair enough once you start going down that path there is that tendency to lose track and never come back.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018 at 8:07 AM


  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    As a maker, I disagree--it is the very definition passed on to us by the Old Breed and Tradition and a full appreciation of what a shoe is supposed to be, designed to be and the purposes it serves.

    First, if you think about it a bit more deeply, I suspect you will realize...esp. in the light of further actual experience...that it is far more binary than it appears at first glance. (And FWIW, I did acknowledge that those who choose to make shoes can make money and vice versa.)

    But let us examine one of the fundamental subsequent choices and the decision tree that results.

    So,you've chosen to make money, and in doing so one of the obvious next decisions is whether to hand welt or to GY welt. So you buy a GYW'ing machine--it's far, far faster than HW (and time is money) and cheaper per shoe in terms of materials--all consistent with your initial choice. You don't need to learn how to inseam by hand nor employ the kind of skilled (decades of experience) worker that does. This is dictated by...ultimately...the goal of making money.

    OK...now next choice--with the GYW'ing machine in place, you don't need to buy expensive or thick (we buy by weight) insole material. It doesn't need to be shoulder, it can be bend. It doesn't need to be 9-10 iron, it can be four iron. It doesn't even need to be leather, it can be paperboard. This is dictated by your choice of construction technique--ie. GY and the GYW'ing machine. And your choice to make money goal #1.

    And to a real degree, you are fundamentally and realistically cut off from any other choices.

    You don't need to make up inseaming threads or worry about the wax or hire someone who knows how to "roll their own."

    And you can fill the forepart with cork so you don't even need to worry about the insole taking a footbed.

    Hell, you don't even really need to look at the quality of the welt...as long as it will feed through the machine

    Once you see the saving in cost of raw materials that comes with cheaper, thinner insoles and so forth, you start looking at what material you'll use for the toe stiffener, if only because you don't have that "surplus" shoulder to cut your stiffeners from. And then comes the heel stiffener--same logic same "necessity." And celastic is so much cheaper and it works with the lasting machine so much better.

    And faster...never forget faster.

    And so it goes. Eventually even your heel bases become paperboard.

    But every single aspect mentioned above is objectively inferior...in terms of durability, longevity, suitability to purpose and even the health and comfort of the foot in the shoe (what other values are really and truly, objectively significant???)...to the same relative choices HW'ing requires.

    All because of that initial choice--all because you've made maximizing profit your prime directive.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018 at 12:43 PM


  3. thatshoeotaku

    thatshoeotaku Member

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    Your basic premise is cost cutting/time saving leads to profit maximising is flawed. Correct me if I'm interpreting this wrongly.

    Successful companies are not successful because they can cut cost or save time.

    Successful companies are successful because they add value.

    For example the biggest factor for consumers is design. You have to take my word for this, quality comes in 2nd or 3rd can't really remember.

    Suppose all that time saving from using a GYW is invested in design. Sure the shoe quality is diminished. But assuming that the shoe design is greatly improved. Do you think that brand value has necessarily decreased? Answer is no.

    Cost cutting without adding value will just lead to companies shutting down it's that simple.

    If a company can't provide more value over its competitors it will not be able to maximise profits.

    My basic point is that there is more than just quality as a value. While in SF we heavily lean towards quality it's not the only truth.

    SF members tend to be unwilling to pay for those other values. However, those values do cost the makers something. It almost never comes free.
     


  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Fact is though, your premise about cutting cost without adding value is not supported by the reality...at least not in the shoemaking trade. Major companies such as have been mentioned in this thread began as HW bespoke workshops...years and years ago. And then they switched to GY in a bid for a bigger market and more profit. And every year has brought yet another expediency, if only a "secondary" line that is produced in a third world country...at lower cost and with less quality.

    There is no rationale for switching to GY that is consistent with objective quality. Only with maximizing profit. There is no rationale to layoff the skilled shoemaker that is consistent with quality, only with eliminating his pension and not having to train his replacement.

    As far as added value is concerned, design is delightful but it is subjective. It is transitory. Intangible. Fleeting. Amorphous. Not quantifiable. Like a glace finish. Like a silver gum wrapper. If you value it, fine. If Joe Blow values it, fine. But it is not reproducible esp. not in specifics--ie. your "wow factor" is another man's "meh." "Design," and even, to some extent, the highly touted "better quality" leather, are "bones" thrown to the consumer to ameliorate the diminished objective quality. And requiring a very good public relations campaign...and maybe a catchy jingle...to make sure everyone knows the product is "new and improved."

    The Trade is very good at this--at disguising mistakes, at diverting the eye...at "presentation." As good as the Industry has become at it, we are better at recognizing it simply because we've been doing it for longer.

    Value is objective --technique, materials, (already discussed), etc.--and somewhat universal...it must be, or the word has no meaning.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018 at 5:19 PM


  5. thatshoeotaku

    thatshoeotaku Member

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    Your observation is very accurate but the explanation behind it is not. Let's agree to disagree on this. I believe that adding value is the only sustainable way for business to grow in the long term. Cost cutting can work in the short term and only the short term. There are many instances of cost cutting going very wrong.

    No general disagreements here if we focus on quality.

    Yes deceitful marketing and representation is bad for the shoemaking trade. Aside from education, strong consumer laws are required to prevent this. However, I don't believe being deceitful is value adding and in the long term, this cannot be sustainable.

    Big disagreement here, quality is objective, value is most definitely subjective. Techniques, materials belong to the quality part.
    Design belongs to value and it is very much subjective. Other values can include, availability, choice and customisation.

    How many times have SF chosen to focus only price/quality and completely ignore the other value propositions that a brand has stood for. Classic example is taking an iconic design from one brand and getting another maker to copy that design.

    If we don't educate and try to expand our definition of value beyond quality and get consumers and even makers to respect these other values, the trade will only go about competing in price/quality. Real value, not deceitful values which pretend to be something else will be lost. And as you have put it, there is only 1 way when we compete only on price/quality.

    Anyway, I think i've derailed this thread far enough and we should go back to shoes. It has been a very good discussion for me to learn about your perspectives. Some strong opinions :fence:from me but no hard feelings:cheers:
     


  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Nor I...

    Yr. Hmb. Svt.
     


  7. winghus

    winghus Senior Member

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    Let me again say I thoroughly enjoyed the last 10 pages or so of discussion in this thread. Even though it got way off of the specific subject of AM shoes, the knowledge distributed applies to all brands and is very helpful, to me at least.
     


  8. deez shoes

    deez shoes Senior Member

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    By chance, are you an architect or work in architecture? I'm not trying to offend by asking this but your train of thought is very common in that field. Just curious.
     


  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    No desire to revive this past strand of the discussion esp. since @thatshoeotaku seems to have moved on. But I got to thinking about this issue of "value" and the meaning of words...if we believe words have meaning (not a given in this day and age) .

    The problem lies, I suspect, in the fact that "value" can be a noun or a verb.

    An object can have intrinsic, objective value. In fact most would say it must...esp. if we are considering whether to exchange something of real intrinsic value (our labour, blood, sweat, and tears) for that object.

    But we also "value" things or ideas or aspects of things. At which point, "value" becomes more about opinion and even whimsy...esp. in the absence of intrinsic value. And upon reflection, in that sense, "value" seems more about self (not surprising in this day and age) and self congratulation than about anything concrete...or even shareable, really.

    FWIW...
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018 at 5:37 AM


  10. deez shoes

    deez shoes Senior Member

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    Agreed. This goes back to my observation of the architecture field where many view value as something abstract as opposed to builders who believe it's more concrete. I like to believe that neither are wrong as long as both sides are understood.
     


  11. thatshoeotaku

    thatshoeotaku Member

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    Okay i'm going to be very blunt here. Last post I promise.

    You're a very good shoemaker all around, and for sake of discussion let's say very good at clicking, closing, lasting and bottoming. The result is a very good shoe and that shoe by your definition is a very good shoe. A very good DWF shoe.

    I or anybody can shit on everything that you stand for by just finding 4 average shoe maker, each specialised and excellent at only one of those 4 aspect of shoemaking.

    None of them, on their own, can make a better pair of shoe than you. However, combined, they can make a better shoe than you. By definition, since they each are specialised, the overall cost will be lower. (Google comparative advantage it's an economics term if anyone wants to dispute this point.) Also going by your premise, design will be a non-factor so we will use the same lasts and patterns. Materials for sake of discussion will also be the same.

    I name my brand Thatshoeotaku and put them out for sale competing DWF shoes by quality and price.

    By every objective measure, that you are standing for, the outcome will be that Thatshoeotaku's shoes are better than DWF. I then proclaim your shoes overpriced.

    As the coordinator I choose to not take any profit from the above venture, and each of my 4 average workers earn more than what they can individually. DWF is no better or worse off except DWF shoes are now overpriced.

    My personal stand on the above hypothesized scenario is that Thatshoeotaku is just finding ways to undercut you and not offer real competition or value. I cannot tolerate such a brand, even though as Thatshoeotaku will have by every objective measure a better shoe, that's just unhealthy competition.

    That's my point, value is more than just about objective quality. If you cannot accept that then you have to accept that in the above scenario DWF shoes are overpriced compared to Thatshoeotaku.

    Secondly, if you think that the above scenario is far fetched, just a friendly reminder to all our members, some brands, big or small, do employ outworkers or outsource their work. It's just a different value proposition.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018 at 7:00 AM


  12. thatshoeotaku

    thatshoeotaku Member

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    Nah just another fool who likes shoes.
     


  13. peppercorn78

    peppercorn78 Distinguished Member

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    The supposed apples to apples comparison in this academic exercise is not even worth considering. As a bespoke boot maker, DWF would never use the same lasts as some mythical RTW house. His skill in making lasts to measure is a big part of what adds value to his work.
     


  14. thatshoeotaku

    thatshoeotaku Member

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    Let's include a third party last maker to help measure the feet and get the last made so the last is a non-factor to please you.
     


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