Bespoke suits or shoes?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Fashionslave, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    If I remember shoefan's breakdown of the labor involved in producing a bespoke shoe, the making (attaching the welt and sole) takes a disproportionate amount of the total. Since resoling is largely the same as remaking the shoe, if it's not nearly 350 GBP, you're getting a bargain.
     
  2. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    I am not sure what the charges are for the resoling of the bespoke shoes.  What I do know is that, if the insole and welt are not being replaced, then the labor involved would perhaps be 6 or so hours, depending on the speed and attention to detail of the craftsman.  I would imagine this would comprise the removal of the existing sole, heel, and cork filling, the replacement of the filling, the addition of the new sole, the sewing thereof, the building of new heels (if the existing heels couldn't be reused), and the finishing of the sole bottom and edges.  Note that while the use of the original last is helpful here, the presence of the insole and welt means that the shoe would retain its existing shape quite well even absent the original last.

    If the insole is going to be replace along with the outsole, then you are talking about redoing nearly the entire "making" process, except that the "lasting" of the upper would be easy, given that it will have become quite molded to shape through the original production process and wear.  If the insole is going to be replaced, then the use of the original last is imperative.  As described by me in an previous post, the entire making process is a 2-day/20 hour affair, at least for the very meticulous maker with whom I spent time.

    It is my impression (based on my recollection), that the London houses may do the resoling in-house, rather than sending them out to their outworkers (with the exception of those who have no in-house labor).
     
  3. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Thanks for the clarification. How many resolings can you typically get before you do have to replace the welt?
     
  4. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    I don't think there is a standard answer. One answer would be: unlimited. When a hand-sewn shoe is resoled, the maker will use the pre-existing holes in the welt, so the welt will not suffer any additional wear from the resoling process. As such, the limiting factor will be the amount of strain the welt absorbs during wear; because the welt is said to act as a 'hinge' during walking, it will, I presume, eventually wear out from this action (just as any material will eventually fail from repeated flexing); how long is perhaps dependent on the quality of the welt leather, the relative weight, thickness, and flexibility of the upper leather, and the fit of the shoe. Also, note that the 'holdfast' in the insole can eventually wear out, through moisture infiltration and stress from flexing, such that the welt stitches pull though/rip out the holdfast; my impression is that this is much more common in boots, which are worn in more often, are sweated in much more, and which may not be treed consistently. In such a case, the insole would have to be replaced, in which a new welt would also be used.

    For a machine-sewn outsole, the key is for the repairman to use the same stitch length so that the installation of the new sole does not cut through the welt. Assuming this is done correctly, the "unlimited" answer would I guess still apply.

    Ultimately, a goodyear- or hand-welted shoe can be rebuilt as many times as a customer wants, until such time as the upper is worn out, again typically at points of flexion where the upper leather gives out.
     
  5. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    Now, back to the original topic of this thread.

    As a general proposition, I agree that a bespoke suit is a "better value" than bespoke shoes. This is for the reason stated above, i.e. the relative cost of high-end RTW shoes/suits vs. bespoke shoes/suits, plus a second reason. When you get right down to it, there is alot more chance for variation between bodies than among feet, leaving aside for the moment highly unusual, injured, or misshapen feet. Furthermore, the shoe is a semi-rigid container, and the foot somewhat pliable, so that a number of feet can fit well into the same shoe, as they will be 'squished around' [a highly technical term] to fit within the confines of the shoe, and they will all look just about equally good within this shoe. This is certainly not true of suits; they don't rearrange any part of the body (unless they have a built-in girdle.). Therefore, the precision of the pattern inherent in a bespoke garment, it seems to me, adds greater value than that of a bespoke shoe. Plus, in producing a bespoke shoe, there are perhaps 6 measurements taken; for a bespoke suit, far more. This again implies, to me, that the bespoke suit will offer far more opportunity for superior fit over a RTW suit, as compared to bespoke vs. RTW shoes.

    There is, however, one caveat to all of this. If anyone has ever had sore feet, they know how debilitating it can be. For people who suffer foot pain with RTW shoes, then bespoke shoes may offer relief, and in that case they are superior to a bespoke suit; I don't know of any of the latter than can actually relieve pain (physical pain, not the emotional pain caused by sub-optimal appearance.).
     
  6. uppercase

    uppercase Senior member

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    I would want to buy bespoke shoes for the chance to have a craftsman design an absolutely beautiful , unique product to my specifications.

    I've seen some gorgeous bespoke shoes recently in Italy and honestly there would be no mistaking those bespoke shoe for anything RTW, no matter how expensive the RTW. Some of the shoes I saw were a fantasy.

    I think that when you start going bespoke, value gets thrown out the window as a consideration, because, in the best examples, you are buying something very special and unique to yourself and the craftsman.
     
  7. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    I think Will and shoefan are right: a bespoke suit (or coat) is for most men a better value, for all the reasons they said.
     
  8. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I was led to believe that it's always good practice to replace the welt with the soles. When you make the soles on a pair of shoes (whether by machine or by hand), welt and soles will be wider. In the final stages, welt and sole together get cut, sanded and have the edges pressed down and shaped with an edge iron.

    When you replace soles without replacing the welt, the soles will have the unfinished width, while the welt width is finished already. When you now cut and sand to get sole and welt even, you are likely to take off a sliver more from the welt. So the finish of the welt (applied with a wheel) might be slightly off.

    Basically any manufacturer with their re-soling service will be replacing the welt and independent shoe repairers (to keep the prices down) will not. I cannot believe that it would be "good practice" in a bespoke pair to replace the soles without replacing the welt.
     
  9. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I think I agree with uppercase: just go for whatever gives you the greatest pleasure.

    I would go for shoes: When you wear nice shoes you can always ogle down and admire them, if you wear a nice suit, you can't line up in front of every shop window to admire your suit. It's like a ring and a necklace: you can admire your ring all day long, others will have to admire your necklace.
     
  10. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    Haven't worn a bespoke suit or shoes, so I can't answer the original question, but fit and feel of a garment are important to me and looks are (mainly) for others. So...I love my new Zanella trousers because they are so soft I can't believe they're wool and I'm glad I passed on a good-looking, sale-priced jacket that was made of the weirdest, nubbiest fabric I've ever seen...the feel just wasn't right (also cheaply made). Bespoke suit or bespoke shoes? I hope I have a chance to judge the feel of each someday.
     
  11. pchong

    pchong Member

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    continuing on the hijacked thread on resoling shoes...may I ask when is the right time to have one's shoes resoled. Does one wait till there is a hole in the sole, or the sole opens up at the side, or when the stitch begins to show at the edges of the sole.
     
  12. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    In general, IMO, when a hole is worn in the sole is when I would have them resoled.
     
  13. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Heretical as it may sound to many shoefans [​IMG] , unless your feet are hard to fit, I would go for a bespoke suit. There are many shoe companies out there that make a wonderful RTW/MTO shoe, and some even have a 'bespoke' look about them.
     
  14. Giona Granata

    Giona Granata Senior member

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    Well, two days ago I would have said a bespoke suit.

    Yesterday I tried my first pair of bespoke shoes: it's an incredible feeling, apart from the look. It is almost impossible to turn back dressing an RTW shoe.
     
  15. STYLESTUDENT

    STYLESTUDENT Senior member

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    What shoes did you purchase, Giono? Curious as to why your opinion has changed.
     

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