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Differentiating shoe construction

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by T4phage, Jan 14, 2004.

  1. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    To the shoe experts out there, eg Bengal-Stripe and A.Harris:

    How can you tell whether a shoe is made via the "Blake" or "Goodyear" method? Some "BLakes" are made with channelled construction (is that the right terminology when the stitches at the sole is covered?), while some are not. The same with "Goodyear" shoes. The same goes for the interior where some shoes have the stitchings visible inside and some are hidden.

    I have seen many shoes that are made via "Goodyear" and many look different in the upper/sole interface, so how can you tell?
     
  2. offshore observer

    offshore observer Active Member

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  3. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Can you also see in some "goodyear" welted shoes the stitching inside?

    As for the welt, I can't see it in some of my Lobb's (bespoke) or Greens (both MTO and RTW).
     
  4. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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  5. banksmiranda

    banksmiranda Senior member

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    Is either Blake or Goodyear "better" than the other? Which is more "traditional?"
     
  6. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Have a look here: http://www.la-botte.com/club/club_construction_us.shtml Main difference is Blake has the stitching running inside the shoe while Goodyear construction places the stitching to the outside. If you see stitching on the insole (inside the shoe) then it will be Blake or a hybrid variation of it. Some manufacturers cover the entire insole with the "sock" (the thin lining of the insole) then you can easily feel, if there is a row of stitching. On the outside this row can be either channelled (like in the illustration) or can go right through and is visible under the sole. It is easily distinguished from Goodyear as the stitching is further away from the sole edge (about 8-10mm, while Goodyear is 4-5mm) and uses considerably longer stitches. For Blake the shoe must be taken off the last for the stitching to be done and gets subsequently re-lasted while in Goodyear it stays on the last to the very end. A truly handmade shoe cannot be Blake, as the cobbler cannot turn the needle inside the shoe, therefore it is either Goodyear or Norwegian construction. There are hybrid versions, where a middle sole gets Blaked while the outsole gets the Goodyear treatment (Blake/Rapid). In general Blake makes for a softer, lighter shoe while Goodyear makes a sturdier one. But even heavy Italian shoes are quite often Blake constructed. Historically both methods were developed in the second part of the 19th century and are more or less contemporary.
     
  7. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Thanks Bengal-Stripe for the great link..  Very educational.  The only thing missing though is an explaination for the Bentivegna(?) construction.

    Now I understand why I don't see the welt in some of my bespokes (Cleverley/Lobb), and why it is visible in others (Lattanzi, Filli Bollini/F.lli Bollini). I will see what it looks like in my Berluti when I get it next month.

    What about some of the handmade Santonis, where you see the norwegian stitching until the heel, and then it disappears?  What is that?
     
  8. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    So there is no way from looking at the EXTERIOR of the shoe to see whether it is Blake or Goodyear?

    It is good to know these things because many employees of stores that sell the complete wardrobe mostly have no clue how a shoe is constructed, or will give you some sort to babble.
     
  9. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Sorry can't help you with "Bentivegna" construction. Neither with "Africa" or "Ferrarese", which Berluti uses for some RTW shoes (apart from Blake, Goodyear and Norwegian).

    But names vary, so what the Italians and French call "Norwegian", the English call "Veldtschoen" and the Germans "zwiegenäht", it is more or less the same construction, uppers turned to the outside and stitched.

    Do not think a welt is only present, if it is very pronounced, exaggerated and has contrast stitching like in a number of Italian designer shoes. Most of Lattanzi's shoes are in a Norwegian construction (at least my single pair is) as this gives the artisan the best platform to show-off his skills in the hand stitching department. But Lattanzi has also some "English" shoes in his collection, which will not be very different from your Cleverleys.

    Have a look at the sole edge of your Cleverleys. I presume they are dress shoes with a single sole. The welt is maybe 2 mm thick, then comes the sole with about 5 mm. (To be absolute precise the measurement is called "irons" which is about ½ mm thick, so total thickness is 14 irons.) You might not see the welt, but it is definitely there. Also in a smart handmade shoe, the welt should be cut narrow and you should not see welt or sole at all, if you look at the shoe from above.

    Most shoes will be welted "breast to breast" i.e. the welt will disappear under the heel to enable a narrow cut. If the welt is pronounced and used as a design feature it usually runs all the way around the shoes. But this is not a hard and fast rule, so when your Santoni shoes, despite having a pronounced welt run it only breast to breast, that the way they are designed. And in spite what Allen-Edmonds publicity tells you (all A-E shoes have a 360 degree welt), breast to breast is not inferior.


    P.S. As a general rule if you see the stitching from the outside it is Goodyear or Norwegian. If you see the stitching from the inside it is Blake. As I said, Blake can only be done by machine, so if your Berlutis are bespoke they will not be Blake (as the majority of StefanoBi-made Berluti shoes are). If they offer you a pair of Blake, do not pay.

    Oii, you had several bespoke shoes made for you. The run-of-the-mill shop assistant (sales clerk) might not know a great deal about shoe construction, but they definitely do in a bespoke business. You pay enough for a bespoke pair, take advantage of that and ask them to explain you every tiny detail (down to how many stitches per inch).

    Whenever I have enough money to order my first pair of bespoke shoes, pity the poor cobbler. He will not know what as hit him as we will go through every tiny detail at great length.
     
  10. naturlaut

    naturlaut Senior member

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    Be sure to tell me as I would literally fly over to London to meet you.
     
  11. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Originally posted by Bengal-Stripe:
    I second naturlaut's comment.. I would love to be there.. Thanks for the near comprehensive review Bengal-Stripe.. Â Indeed my Cleverley's have that 2mm above the 5mm sole.. Â SO THAT IS THE WELT [​IMG] ... Â The sam then goes for my Lobbs and MTO Greens. Â On the other hand, my one bespoke Lattanzi is Bentivegna, with looks similar to the description of Norwegian shoes on the link you posted (with the exterior welt). As for my Berluti's, it should be coming by the end of next month, and it will be a norwegian construction, a version of the Club II. In the case of Lattanzi, I LOVE his fit. Â It is the most immediately comfortable bespoke that I have owned. Â I also love my side elastic Cleverley's, so this year (probably in September when he is back from holidays) I will go to Rome and ask him to make a side elastic in the same vein as my Cleverley, albeit with some modifications - hopefully he can do it.
    I had all of my bespokes made before I joined this and Andy's forum. Â Now with all the information that I have gleaned from the experts (mainly A.Harris, B.Stripe, Shoefan, et.al) I am a MUCH more knowledgeable shopper. Â So when I asked a shop assistant in CROSSWORD (Brussels) about their StefanoBi's and the construction method, I got air blown up my A..... Â Dumb idiot.. Â By the way, the wholecut and split toe StefanoBi's I saw were norwegian construction, costing about Euro 450.
     
  12. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Originally posted by Bengal-Stripe:
    One of my Santoni's has the stitching running up to the heel, the rest are either all around Norwegian or all around Bentivegna.

    Here is an odd duck: I have two pairs of Bally's Scribes (purchased 97/98 before the takeover when the Scribes were still very nicely made), from the inside there are no stitches, there seems to be a "fudge welt" (as EG calls it) going all around the shoe. The sole is weird: the front 3/4 is channeled, no stitching in sight, while towards the arch, the stitching is visible. Would you know what type of construction it is?

    Opinions on Channelled v.s. Stitched Aloft? I thought that by covering the stichings, it would prevent damage to them and protect them (from some extent) from moisture.

    I've checked my shoes, and the only one that is Blake stitched is my Tod's chukka. Wonderfully comfortable casual shoe and I think the leather is quite nice (purchased in 97, so I don't know if their quality has deteriorated).
     
  13. A Harris

    A Harris Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    This has been covered very well so I don't have much to add.

    When I read your post it occured to me that I hadn't really thought much of how to tell if a shoe is Blake stitched if it features a full-length insole cover. A peek inside all my shoes (that took a bit :) revealed why - besides my Vass shoes, only one pair of (older) RTW Lobb's and one pair of Ferragamo's had full-length insole covers. Maybe that's a US market thing??

    Anyhow, Bengal-Stripe made an excellent point - if there is a full-length insole cover you will still be able to feel the stitching.

    I'm not a big fan of the Blake/Rapid method. My experience has been that the sole likes to detach around the edges (the Blake seam is quite a ways in so the edge is usually affixed with glue.) I don't know if it's just my foot or what, but the soles of the Blake/Rapid shoes I've had tend to develop a pronounced convex surface with wear. They just don't seem as sturdy. When you pick them up and flex the sole, tap on it etc., a Blake/Rapid shoe just doesn't feel as solid or substantial to me as a Goodyear welted model, even a Goodyear model with a thinner sole...

    My opinion is that Blake stitching is best used for light shoes with very thin soles. A Blake stitched shoe is not necessarily inferior - check out some of the (more conservative) Artioli models to confirm that. They are exquisitely made and can look very appropriate if you are wearing very tapered, slim-legged trousers. They do some nice models for Stefano Ricci, check them out if you are in New York or Beverly Hills. And don't forget to look at the wonderful suits (made by Saint Andrew's.)    

    I wish I could figure out what the Bentivegna construction entails. Perhaps I should email Mr. Kuwana and ask him to explain.

    T4Phage, I once had a pair of Bally Scribe shoes that were exactly as you describe. And I still have no idea how they were made.
     
  14. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Originally posted by A.Harris:
    The Lattanzi booklet is no help, neither is the Santoni booklet. From Bengal-Stripe's posted link at La Botte, it seems as if the Bentivegna is a modified norwegian. When I go to Rome at the end of summer, I will ask Mr. Lattanzi to explain what it means.

    What do you think of the Scribes made since the takeover? The quality has dropped 1000% in my eyes, and the styling and refinement has gone too. I don't think that they are completely handmade either.
     
  15. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Originally posted by Shoefan:
    How can you differentiate this effect from a Goodyear shoe to that described by A.Harris when a Blake shoe has a full insole lining?
     
  16. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I don't think it makes a great deal of difference if a Goodyear sole is stitched channelled or aloft. Of course the former looks better and is also more expensive to produce, but in wear the 2 mm or so of leather, which cover the stitching, will wear off and then, there is not much difference. This applies to Goodyear where the stitching is outside the shoe. I think Blakes with the stitching going all the way through are a not suited to anything but light summer shoes. The stitching goes from the sole right inside the shoe, every stitch is a hole filled with cotton thread. If you are caught in the rain, the cotton acts as a wick to take the moisture right into the shoe. Your feet will be wet in next to no time.  (That's the problem I have with Tod's, as all their shoes seem to have the stitching right going through.)
    I believe Bally "Scribe" are Goodyear and were at one time their superior handmade range (I presume not fully handmade.) I only ever tried on a pair a few years back in a sale - Goodness, were they big. I think what you describe is the same as a typical Ferragamo shoe. You see the stitching in the waist (where the sole has left the ground) then it burrows in like a subway train, goes all the way round, to emerge at the other side. In the case of a typical Ferragamo, they are Blake stitched but you could do the same thing (combining channelled and aloft in the same row or stitching) in Goodyear construction. "Fudge welt" or "storm welt" or "split reverse welt" is a way to prevent water penetation.
    Use your fingers, you usually can feel it if it's just a thin layer of leather. If the "sock" is padded you might have to pull a little away to get your fingers in.
     
  17. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Bengal-Stripe, you are ABSOLUTELY right about my toes getting wet in my Tod's...

    I found another shoe of mine that is Blake lasted: my Cole-Haan side elastic boot with combination leather/rubber sole (about 10yrs old). It seems as if my Blake lasted shoes are some of the most comfortable for long walking. Is this the main function of Blake (other than cost).

    You are probably right about the Scribes, I can't feel any stitching inside. As for Ferragamo, I've tended to avoid the line because it looks too trendy for me, even their demi chasse types (recently seen on sale for about Euro 150).
     
  18. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Originally posted by A.Harris:
    This has happened to my "Custom Grade" bookbinder leather Churchs [​IMG] and the shoe is Goodyear lasted. Yep, never ever again. Â Are all Churches as poorly made and exorbitantly priced? Have any of you heard of Barrett shoes? http://www.barrett.it Any opinions on quality? From what I have seen they look a lot like a more conservative Mantellassi, but the workmanship looks top rate.
     

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