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Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by luk-cha, Apr 7, 2011.
A response to this will be in order. I just realized this could take some time. On guard
i could do that
Alright, so, for your viewing pleasure, here are the following! I have a pair of AE Strands, C&J Lowndes, G&G Grants, and EG Dovers. All four are welted, so I feel this is a fair comparison.
First up, we have the Strands. Notice the uneven broguing that has not all been punched out. Notice the fairly awful crimping, and notice the wide stitching. From first hand experience, the leather is not bad, but it has not held up the best in ~5 years of ownership. Still, a great shoe.
Next up we have the Lowndes. The stitching and welt is much neater. Not quite as neat as the following two, but still, lightyears ahead of the Strands. However, the heel is not quite as clean as the following
Here are the G&Gs. Look at the heel counter, look at how neat the stitching is! And look how well the leather has held up. All four of these shoes have been owned for about the same amount of time. And the G&Gs have far and away been worn the most.
And finally, the EGs. Once again, the stitching quality is just substantially better.
And finally, a comparison of the lasts. Objectively, the EG and G&G have much more attractive lasts.
So I guess what I am trying to say is that a $1200 pair of shoes really does have tangible benefits over a pair that are worth $500, $600, or even $700. The stitching is neater, the welt is closer, the leather is more suppler, and the lasts are more elegant. You also get closed channel stitching, which is a nice touch. In particular, the heels are canted and are more shapely, and the last just flows with the foot better. Do not get me wrong, I love my $300 shoes, and I love my $1200 shoes. But you really do get what you pay for. And it shows in the long run as well. I think that some of the Lobbs and such are just obscene. But you sure as heck can tell the difference between a pair of Alden's or Allen Edmonds and a pair of EGs or G&Gs. And in my most humble of opinions, the differences are fairly large!
Shoes are one place where it seems that price and value are fairly closely correlated with one another. I don't get the same feeling when buying a pair of shoes that I do when buying a watch. Now, that may not be the case with the Ferragamo's and such, but in regards to the 'artisan' brands, I think that pricing is pretty darn fair for what you are getting.
Time to queue chogall...
On what? The fact that no one can possibly own G&G's own G&G RTW long enough to tell how well made/durable they are?
Or price and value are two very different things and doesn't correlate especially for footwear?
Except that Loakes don't cost $100 and Barkers don't cost $250.
Except that Loakes don't cost $100 and Barkers don't cost $250.
Thank you. And that is the point, really. The higher up we go in the price of RTW options, the less "rational" the decision normally is. More sensible when we're looking at the maker and quality rather than buying some "fashion" brand, but harder and harder to justify logically, nevertheless. Our shoes are objects of desire. That's it. There is a point where the even smaller increments of improved quality cease to make any sense at all - and we will all draw that line in a different place. Of course, the SF demographic on average draws that line far higher than the public in general!
En garde, monsieur!
Thank you for this excellent illustration! I think it reinforces my point, that the first steps up the price range are the most important. G&G clearly have excellent finishing and quality control, but only a real SF shoe nerd will notice the difference immediately. I'd also argue that the $1200 shoe isn't necessarily better than the $700 shoe. It can be better. Your example of Ferragamo for instance, is one where a $1200 shoe might actually be inferior, while a $700 shoe from, say, Dinkelacker, Carmina, Kielman, whoever, could be a step up.
Quite. I think price and vale can correlate with footwear, and perhaps do quite frequently - especially in the mid range of prices. But paying more is no guarantee of higher quality, and I do think the returns diminish rapidly after the first few hundred dollars.
OK, that was sloppy of me: I said $150 at the beginning and $100 at the end. Indian-made Loakes start at about $130 - I have some suede brogues from them that are among my favourite "weekend shoes". Anyway, that's hardly the point. The point is that goodyear welted shoes of a basic competence can be very cheap. As another example, I bought a pair from a company called "Samuel Windsor" for about $60 including UK VAT and delivery, for my son (he's 14 and changes sizes about twice a year so it's not worth a more expensive pair yet!). The suede is rather artificial in finish, but pleasant enough, and the shape, welting and little touches like shoe bags really belied the price.
As for Barker, they also do an Indian-made cheap range, but many of the English-made Barkers are certainly available for $250. I bought some "Windsor" wingtips for my business partner as a gift last year for just under that price - they're really rather nice, although the last is a little conservative for some tastes. What's more, they are certainly better both in the leather and the finishing, than a pair I have from Alfred Sargeant. Paying more doesn't always get you more, even staying within the confines of mainstream English makers.
This applies to all aspects of life.
First rule of being a thrifty consumer: If you have the choice between a cheaper and a more expensive product and you are unable to see, feel, taste, hear or touch the difference between the two, you should settle for the cheaper one.
words of wisdom. To save money for future, better not to learn the rules too well.
Fortunately for the G&Gs of this world, and many other cheaper brands besides: nobody in this thread, myself included, applies that principle with any rigour, and certainly nobody here is asking "what is the minimum I can spend for my shoes to look very smart to the majority of people?", as a part of their decision making process!
Of course, we all consider ourselves people of impeccable taste, for whom these tiny differences, real or imagined, are matters of fundamental importance to our self esteem and identity. Oh look...here come the affiliate vendors!
Quote:When it comes to food - smelling before tasting critical
All things being equal Mimo has it right, I think. There is no objective or "tangible" aspect recommending one GY welted RTW over the other. It could be argued the higher priced brands are often sewn with smaller stitches and the stitching may (repeat may) be straighter and more consistent. And indeed the finish of the shoes may be more attractive. Sometimes the leather itself may be marginally better.
And then there's the bogus issue of "more stylish lasts". Today's "ultimate," primo, ecstasy inducing last will be tomorrow's sneeringly gauche.
All of these are "in the eye of the beholder" and while some may indeed be objectively true, have little to do with quality or value. Certainly not enough to warrant price differentials of $500+
When it comes to RTW, beyond a certain point, what the customer...even the savvy customer...is paying for is Brand Name Cachet. I just wish people could be honest with themselves about that.
Thank for weighing in there, Big D.
I think, going back to the original "why buy G&G?" question, the biggest issue remains their suitability. Apart from subjective issues of taste, the last shape is genuinely important because of how it fits. And I don't think there's any question that, regardless of miniscule differences in stitching or whatever, a $300 shoe that fits well is empirically better than a $1200 shoe that almost fits.
I've seen shoes in this thread an others, that at least appear to fit almost comically badly - usually where a very narrow last (equals "elegant"; typical issue with English makers IMO) has been bought in a size up to fit, but ends up looking far too long and breaking over the toe. I've done that myself, some years ago, and still haven't had the heart to throw out the burgundy derbies that really don't fit me and have been occasional wears still for about ten years.
We can all be foolish about the shiny things we love. But I think we're most foolish when we deny it! If you love a G&G shoe (and I love a lot of them), and if a certain last fits you brilliantly, then it's probably great value for you when compared to a cheaper shoe that you don't like or doesn't fit well. But as a guess, I think if we all tried on a hundred pairs of shoes blind and picked the ten best fits, I doubt very much that the top most expensive makers would make that top ten very often. So I'm wondering: is it more fortunate to have a foot shaped exactly like a TG73, or EG 888, or a Loake 026?
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