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banana last

understated

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Hello to all,

I'm new here and firstly would like to introduce myself. I've been following the forum a couple of months as a guest and finally decided to post. As a fan of Mr. Flusser (call me strange but I've actually read 3 of his books), I find it interesting that he states that the shape of a shoe should be rather straight on the inside (i.e. the instep pointing more towards the big toe) and curved along the outside. Yet, aside from his own collection and a few bespoke and rtw makers (Edward Green 82 last? and John Lobb) not many manufacturers produce such a shape. Hence, my question is, are there any other brands of shoes that make a shoe with the, as some have called, banana last? Thanks in advance for your time.

understated
 

jcusey

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The most pronounced banana lasts that I've seen on RTW shoes are made by Vass: their Banana and P2 lasts, among others, have this shape. In addition, EG's 707, which Flusser uses for the EG shoes that he sells, has a definite banana shape.
 

Manton

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The 707 is really long, however, and not the best for big feet.
 

jcusey

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Sigh... John... Be so kind as to do your thing...
Silence from the peanut gallery.
 

understated

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Thanks for the response
I did a little research on this before posting and Manton I think I read that you own one of the EG/Flusser models. Compared to other shoes that have this shape would you say his have a lower vamp? I ask because after reading your comment about them being particularly elongating, I thought that a low vamp design was supposed to give the illusion of a smaller foot. Just curious as I have a generally smaller-to-average foot (9.5-10 D)
 

Manton

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No, the vamp is no lower than usual, because mine are lace-ups. Â
The aesthetic principle you cite really only applies to slip-ons.
 

understated

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Though, I feel a very elegant shape it is certainly not the end-all of shoes. As an author, I wonder if Manton or any other interested member has any general aesthetic guidelines that they wish to contribute as to shoe design?
 

RJman

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Welcome, understated.

Flusser does heap praise on the banana last. However, it's definitely not an objective opinion he has of it. I know of his writings about it in connection to the old, old 1950s-1960s Peal shoes at Brooks Brothers made by Edward Green. Now at his shop he sells Edward Green shoes made to order on a similar banana last. I believe that inasmuch as there are many different shapes and sizes of feet there's no one last shape that is the best. The banana last's elegance seems to me to be at least in part due to Flusser's hagiographical veneration of the old, gone Brooks of yore.

Incidentally, the current Flusser banana last, the 707, is not what the Peals were on. Green itself called another last, the 404, the "transatlantic Peal" shape, but that might not be the original Peal last either. (I have never to my knowledge seen a shoe on the 404 last.) The inimitable Tony Gaziano, Edward Green's designer/director, has described the real Peal last as not necessarily very comfortable and not particularly well designed (if I remember right).

There are many other last shapes out there with their own elegant features -- the Cleverley Tuczek toe, the distinguished rounded chisel shape of Edward Green 82, Lazslo Vass's U-last, and on and on. I have a soft spot for the old EG 32 last, which is very comfortable on my feet.
 

Kaga

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If my memory serves me correctly, understated is marc grayson posting under yet another alias. Why, marc, why?

KAGA Takeshi
 

shoefan

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Perhaps Tony Gaziano will weigh in here; if not, here is my take on the topic of banana lasts.

First, it is most important to find a last that fits YOUR feet; the shapes of each person's feet are unique, with their own angles/geometry, so that some people need a banana last, some a straighter last, and some even an outflare last. Just because someone (be it Flusser, me, or JCusey) likes the shape of a last does not mean it will work for your feet. The best looking shoe in the world is a bad choice if it is painful or causes long-term foot problems.

When one designs a last, as a general principle, a straight line from the inside of the heel to the inside ball of the foot is used to help shape the last; while the last will then be curved at the bottom of the last (where the foot rests on the insole of the shoe), the innermost point of the last (which is in fact somwhat above the bottom of the last, and which point varies in height along the length of the last) will be a straight line, or a nearly straight line, so that when viewed from above, the inside of the last will look like a straight line from the heel to the ball; the shape of the last forward of the ball will be what gives the last (and therefore the shoe) its apparent shape, along with the shape of the outside portion of the last.

Thus, what gives the last the apparent shape is the angle between the rear of the last (foot) and the front of the last (forefoot). This angle is (or should be) ultimately a function of the shape of your feet; if your foot has alot of inward curvature, a banana last would work well. If you have an outward curving foot, your pinkie and 4th toes would probably not fit and would be pushed inward in a banana last.

Look at your feet; think about putting a ruler from the inside of your heel to the ball of your foot. Does the ruler then hit your big toe? For most people, the answer would be 'no.' So, a last which has the big toe in a straight line with the heel and the ball would not be a great choice for many people, notwithstanding any aesthetic superiority it might have.
 

NoVaguy

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Look at your feet; think about putting a ruler from the inside of your heel to the ball of your foot.  Does the ruler then hit your big toe?  For most people, the answer would be 'no.'  So, a last which has the big toe in a straight line with the heel and the ball would not be a great choice for many people, notwithstanding any aesthetic superiority it might have.
So, if I can stand up, and place a ruler against my inner heel, the inside edge of the ball of my foot, and big toe, as I've poorly but sort of diagrammed below, the banana last might be a good choice?  (o = toes, b's = ball, x's is arch, empty space at bottom is the heel etc)

                 |oo
                 |i iooo
                 |bbiuu
       ruler->|bbuuu <-- foot
                 |lxxxu
                 |lxxxu
                 |l     |
                 |L__|
 

kabert

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Interestingly (I thought, anyway), tonight I lined up side-by-side three pairs of my cap-toes:

-- Edward Green Chelsea in 202 last
-- Vass Old English in R Last
-- Allen Edmonds Park Avenue

The Edward Green is markedly more "shaped" than the other two when viewed from above. In fact, the inward curvature of the EG is so different from the AE or Vass as to look almost distorted and odd.

Of the three, the AE is by far the least comfortable. I only just bought the Vass yesterday, so we'll see how it ends up comfort-wise compared to the EG, which has always been tops in comfort. While the EG and AE have essentially flat insoles, the Vass has a curved insole, that is also somewhat raised at the arch -- something that I really like and that I can already tell will add to the shoes' comfort.
 

johnnynorman3

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Yes, the Vass insole provides extraordinary arch support from my experience with trying them on. Might not be right for everyone, but it was for me.
 

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