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deconstructed fashion plate

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by DWFII, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Distinguished Member

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    DFWII,

    so the true function of the cork in a shoe with gemming, is to hold the gemming piece in place. And not, as claimed by the Allen Edmonds guy in the Youtube link, to have a softer bed for the feet to rest on?
     

  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Thank you DFWII, Your explanations are very clear and I know now what you are talking about and what we call it in french. I shall check with one of the shoe-maker that is often present during the deconstructions, as I'll see him tomorrow, about the gemming on the pairs that have undergone the surgery.
    Hey...you're more than welcome. I don't blame the messenger, never have. I think your website is doing good work. Keep it up. If I understood French better I would post avidly. What really surprised me was the company names that resort to gemming. Some of them I didn't want to believe.
     

  3. RJman

    RJman Posse Member Dubiously Honored

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    So are you saying that John Lobb RTW, Edward Green and C&J are all made like a Wal-Mart shoe?
     

  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    DFWII, so the true function of the cork in a shoe with gemming, is to hold the gemming piece in place. And not, as claimed by the Allen Edmonds guy in the Youtube link, to have a softer bed for the feet to rest on?
    Well not really. The true function is to fill the cavity created by the raised ridge of the gemming. To bring everything up to level. I'm not going to point fingers...not specifically or by name...but I know from long experience that cork doesn't provide a softer footbed for any length of time. Now for the manufacturers if they can get you out the door with you thinking it provides a softer footbed, it doesn't matter if the cork is fugitive over time--the sale has been made.
     

  5. ajv

    ajv Senior Member

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    Hey...you're more than welcome. I don't blame the messenger, never have. I think your website is doing good work. Keep it up. If I understood French better I would post avidly. What really surprised me was the company names that resort to gemming. Some of them I didn't want to believe.
    You would be surprised what has been found or not found for that matter in certain shoes that one would expect being above par. And for certain things, a form of self censure is sometimes used. P.S. : and as aside note, it is not my website, but just a site that belongs to/or is attached to this forum : http://depiedencap.leforum.eu/index.php
     

  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    So are you saying that John Lobb RTW, Edward Green and C&J are all made like a Wal-Mart shoe?
    I'm saying that gemming is almost a distinguishing characteristic of cheaply made, poor quality shoes...And that there is no way to make it better. No technique, no material that will significantly make one job of gemming better or more long wearing than another job of gemming.
     

  7. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

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    Thornton "Textbook of Footwear Manufacture" (which I have in front of me) was published in 1953.

    "˜Gemming' with a strip of fabric was universally introduced into machine-welted footwear sometime between the late 50s and mid 60s. It replaced the older technique of a machine-cut welt, which was bent-up at a right ankle to accept the welt. (Illustrations taken from Thornton.)

    [​IMG]

    A cut was placed from either side into the insole, those two sections were folded up and the welt was attached to that leather. This leather 'holdfast' was turned up at 90 degrees against the direction of the insole. I did enquire about the reasons, but of course as this change came about half a century ago, I did not find anybody within the shoe industry in Northampton who had actually worked with it.

    Apparently that traditional method had the great disadvantage, once the insole leather dried out and with the bending of the sole from walking that the 'holdfast' tore off. Ever since the beginning of this technique the insole needed to be gemmed, not with a strip but with a piece of textile, covering the bottom of the insole in it's entirety. Once the leather tore, the glued fabric held the ridge in place. So, it was a small step to replace the full sole backer with a narrow strip.

    http://www.archive.org/details/story_of_shoes_1

    http://www.archive.org/details/story_of_shoes_2

    This film (from the early 50s, I would guess) shows the traditional way the insole was prepared (Part 1 - from 3:27 - 4:51, with the gemming clearly visible from 4:21 on).

    I don't deny that probably one of the reasons for the change was cost saving. At that same time the radio valve was replaced by the transistor and (maybe a bit later) fusible interfacings were introduced into garment making. And even with the very few manufacturers who still use a floating canvas, they do their pad-stitched by machine (apart from Oxxford, I believe).

    Yes, DW, I agree a well-done hand-welted shoe is superior to a machine-made one. For those, who do not know what we are talking about, here is a drawing how the holdfast is carved out of an insole:

    [​IMG]

    And here is a hand-welted insole by one of the top English "˜makers':

    [​IMG]

    But I have seen plenty of badly made insoles: big, big stitches (quicker) and not tightly pulled thread. Just 'handmade' is not automatically a sign of quality, it has to be well made. (I don't want to post any negative samples. I can find plenty).

    I do not share your preference of Blake Rapid, as I find that row of stitching going along the insole rather irritating. (Maybe I was a Princess in a previous life and had a pea in my bed).

    It's no good, throwing out the baby with the bathwater, unless one can make practical suggestions how the processes of producing items in quantity can be improved. It will need experience within a particular industry to become a production manager. An artisan maker will not do. Practical experience comes from working on the shop floor, be it shoe-, garment- or candle making. (I suppose a hand-dipped candle is superior to a factory-made one, but it leaves me, as someone who is rather indifferent about candles, totally uninvolved.)

    I'm afraid, Blake ('dark Satanic mills"˜) and William Morris are dead.
     

  8. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Goon member

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    So are you saying that John Lobb RTW, Edward Green and C&J are all made like a Wal-Mart shoe?

    I'm saying that gemming is almost a distinguishing characteristic of cheaply made, poor quality shoes...And that there is no way to make it better. No technique, no material that will significantly make one job of gemming better or more long wearing than another job of gemming.

    Vass and Saint Crispin's for the RTW win.


    - B
     

  9. RJman

    RJman Posse Member Dubiously Honored

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    Vass and Saint Crispin's for the RTW win.


    - B


    Meh. There are advantages to buying shoes one can actually try on somewhere. Too many groupthink sheep around here forget the importance of that.

    Also, Dimitri Gomez pwns all your MTO Vass/Crispin bases.
     

  10. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Yes, DW, I agree a well-done hand-welted shoe is superior to a machine-made one. For those, who do not know what we are talking about, here is a drawing how the holdfast is carved out of an insole: [​IMG] And here is a hand-welted insole by one of the top English ‘makers’: [​IMG] But I have seen plenty of badly made insoles: big, big stitches (quicker) and not tightly pulled thread. Just ’handmade’ is not automatically a sign of quality, it has to be well made. (I don’t want to post any negative samples. I can find plenty).
    Rolf, Ironic, isn't it? One of the reasons I started this thread (aside from my lifelong abhorrence of, and subsequent crusade against, gemming) was to point out (perhaps too subtly) that names don't equate with quality...anymore than the claim of "handmade" does. You're correct about that. On the other hand, handmade often indicates a process of growth...hopefully getting better and better. Whereas selling a name...and in this instance selling it short...is all too often a process of decline.
    Whoa, whoa whoa! I don't care for Blake/rapid either. But it is a better solution than gemming. Blake/rapid will produce a shoe that is solid and will not collapse or lose shape. A sockliner over the insole can cover, and to some extent ameliorate, the stitches that both you and I find irritating ...although perhaps for different reasons..
    I'm not concerned about the bathwater...and in most cases the baby has long since been abandoned if not thrown out separate from the water. I have a friend who is one of the most knowledgeable shoemakers and archivists of traditional techniques in the world. A couple of years back he was contacted by a major work boot manufacturing company to create comfortable lasts for them. Why did they commission him? One otherwise somewhat obscure maker? Simply because they could not find anyone within their firm...nor within the US lastmaking industry...who knew enough about feet and lasts to make the changes needed. To paraphrase an old Scots aphorism..."they're all deid!" Ostensibly...only ostensibly, mind you...the ability to appreciate really high quality shoes is here on Style Forum or it is nowhere. I am not going to defend the mediocre. I'm not even going to sympathize. I don't care, frankly, what happens to firms that "produce in quantity" in this country or abroad...I figure they can take care of themselves. Bottom line is that from this maker's point of view...a cordwainer nearing on four decades of making footwear full time...there is absolutely no justification for charging anything above $300.00 for a gemmed shoe. Regardless of the name attached to it. Mass production will always be with us...what's the old saying?--"there's nothing that someone can't figure out how to make cheaper and charge less for"...something like that. But I often wonder how long it will take to get to a state where some of these firms know no other way...and no one else does either. I can't count the number of supposedly bespoke makers who rely on what are essentially factory techniques brought back into the hand workshop simply because the maker never learned the traditional methods. Which, I guess, goes back to your comment about hand work not always being quality...and maybe suggests a reason.
     

  11. shoefan

    shoefan Senior Member

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    I don't think this is entirely fair; every welted shoe I've ever seen made has SOME sort of filling in the shoe, because the welt and the upper are higher than the insole, creating a space between the insole and the outsole. So, while some bespoke makers use other filling materials -- leather or tarred felt -- they all need something to fill the gap. Thus, to me, this is not an issue of gemming vs. a leather holdfast, but rather a materials decision made by the maker. I think all factories use cork, since a cork 'paste' is fast and easy to apply; although, in this regard, it validates DW's view of economics perhaps trumping quality. FWIW, I have seen bespoke makers using cork as well.

    With respect to gemming, DW, how often have you seen the gemming/insole interface fail? I know this topic has been of some contention elsewhere, and others claim the gemming/insole interface is very stable. Of the RTW makers I'm familiar with, only JM Weston uses the old-fashioned cut-and-folded goodyear welting process, while a few others (Lattanzi, Kiton, Vass and, I assume St. Crispin,) use a traditional hand-cut feather/holdfast. Perhaps a few of the high-end Italians (Mantellassi, Santoni, Ferragamo Tramezza) may use one or the other as well on their highest grade products. I am personally less ready to damn gemming, and I think it has a decent track record in goodyear welted shoewear, but I am not a shoe repair expert and can't vouch for its durability.
     

  12. emptym

    emptym Moderator Moderator

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    As always, thank you so much, DW and Bengalstripe.
     

  13. benjamin831

    benjamin831 Distinguished Member

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    Here's a video that demonstrates the hand-carved holdfast technique. Courtesy of MarcellHUN
    IMPORTANT NOTICE: No media files are hosted on these forums. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website. We can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. If the video does not play, wait a minute or try again later. I AGREE

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  14. srivats

    srivats Distinguished Member

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    Here's a video that demonstrates the hand-carved holdfast technique.

    Courtesy of MarcellHUN


    Here is the right link ...

    IMPORTANT NOTICE: No media files are hosted on these forums. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website. We can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. If the video does not play, wait a minute or try again later. I AGREE

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  15. benjamin831

    benjamin831 Distinguished Member

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    Here is the right link ...

    IMPORTANT NOTICE: No media files are hosted on these forums. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website. We can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. If the video does not play, wait a minute or try again later. I AGREE

    TIP: to embed Youtube clips, put only the encoded part of the Youtube URL, e.g. eBGIQ7ZuuiU between the tags.


    [​IMG] Gah!

    Fixed, thanks!
     

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