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Good Article on Shoes

TOstyle

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I was browsing around the interwebs and came across this article from Parisian Gentleman on what to look for in good shoes. See here:

http://parisiangentleman.co.uk/academy/4-things-to-look-for-in-a-good-pair-of-mens-shoes/

I have bought my share of footwear, and more so in the last few years as we are fortunate enough to have a lot of new options come online and in-store in US/ Canada. That said, since but five years ago I don't think there was a range of good, high quality shoes in an "attainable" price range ($500 to $1,000) that had wide distribution. Now Carmina, Scarosso, Left Shoe Company - and of course J. Fitzpatrick's line are all out -- and worth talking about as good quality, wearable alternatives to Lobb, G&G and Berluti. I'm not saying they are as good quality, but it is my sense that there is now a range of good quality shoes that are great value (not cheap, but not $2,000). That doesn't mean Carmina is Saint Crispin's, but it my sense they are both worth talking about as quality products.

Except I don't actually know that, which is where the article above comes in. Do those here on the SF that know more about shoes than me (that should be most of you...) agree with it? Disagree? What else do I need to know or am missing if I'm going looking for my next pair of dress-kicks?
 

DWFII

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Except I don't actually know that, which is where the article above comes in. Do those here on the SF that know more about shoes than me (that should be most of you...) agree with it? Disagree? What else do I need to know or am missing if I'm going looking for my next pair of dress-kicks?

It's OK...mostly correct.

The biggest error--misleading statement--is this...

Goodyear Welt Construction — The insole, upper and welt are sewn together...
...which is simply not true.

The upper and welt are sewn together but the insole is not part of that attachment. The upper and welt are sewn to a strip of canvas known as "gemming" and the gemming is cemented to the insole.
 
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bengal-stripe

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Actually a little boo-boo has slipped into the article, those boots are supposed to show Blake construction:


Blake Construction — The outer sole is directly stitched to the insole, making the shoe flexible and lightweight because the shoes do not need an additional intermediate layer connecting the shoe sole to the shoe upper. The Blake construction is generally more comfortable but less resistant to water and repeated wear.


Those boots are actually mine. They are hand-welted with bevelled waist and the finished boots have a hand-stitched outsole. But the picture shows them in an early stage and the uppers are temporarily “braced” (basted) for a fitting.

The insole gets “blocked” (moulded) to the underside of the last, cut, holdfast gets cut and perforated. Then the upper is lasted and temporarily stitched to the insole. If there are no alterations, the shoemaker stitches in the welt, clipping the bracing stitches as he goes along,

Here they are with the sole in place



 

DWFII

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Bengal,

Thank you for that. Made me look again.

Now that you mention it...I don't think this is quite kosher either:
Rapid-Blake construction - Rapid-Blake is a synthesis of Goodyear and Blake methods. The stitching technique of Blake is combined with an extra midsole. Blake-rapid is typically used on more rugged shoes.
It's not a synthesis of anything. At its best, it's a relatively thin "midsole" Blake stitched to the insole, then trimmed full and stitched to the outsole using a Rapid outsole machine. And I'm not really sure why it would be "typically used on more rugged shoes." I've seen some very refined shoes that were B-R (Blake-Rapid--Blake first, Rapid second...in the order performed)

Also, Goodyear is not...patently not... "waterproof."

The instep and the arch are not synonymous. I would call the top of the foot...encompassing the navicular and the cuneiform bones...the instep. I don't know what a "bridge" is.

--
 
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Pliny

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To be fair, as it is with watches 'waterproof' is a relative term. Goodyear is more waterproof than Blake, but not even hand-welted cordovans are waterproof in a downpour, as I know from bitter experience
 

Dandy Wonka

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I love good shoes.

Call me ignorant but I always skip that stuff to do with construction. I just don't care.
 
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DWFII

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To be fair, as it is with watches 'waterproof' is a relative term.  Goodyear is more waterproof than Blake, but not even hand-welted cordovans are waterproof in a downpour, as I know from bitter experience

Actually, on a leather shoe that is not CG, the only part of the shoe that is, really and truly, waterproof is the inseam on a hand welted shoe. It's the leather itself that is not waterproof...no natural leather is.

--
 
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chy5b

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I love good shoes.

Call me ignorant but I always skip that stuff to do with construction. I just don't care.

I feel the same way. I know I should probably be more informed but the aesthetics are more priority for me personally.
 

DWFII

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I feel the same way.  I know I should probably be more informed but the aesthetics are more priority for me personally.

I know exactly how you both feel--I'm ignorant about suits...and shirts...and watches...and overcoats ...and hats...and ties. I'm not happy that I'm ignorant about all these subjects, I'm open to learning more. But we all have our own priorities--and for good or ill, my brain or heart or soul can't embrace more than one such passion. There just isn't room. Shoes are it for me.

Probably the only redemption is that I know I'm ignorant about almost every other subject in the world (well, I do know a little bit about single malt scotch and fly fishing) and that frees me to be honest with myself...and others.
 
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RIDER

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The problem with all of these types of articles - especially on the internet - is that they constantly strive to find absolutes, at the expense of individual circumstances.

The internet, obviously, has been a wonderful tool to spread information much more efficiently to many more people on a huge range of topics......the question becomes, is the information any good? And, to a lesser extent, do the readers have the ability to determine that?

There aren't many Editors on the internet.......
 

DWFII

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The problem with all of these types of articles - especially on the internet - is that they constantly strive to find absolutes, at the expense of individual circumstances.

The internet, obviously, has been a wonderful tool to spread information much more efficiently to many more people on a huge range of topics......the question becomes, is the information any good? And, to a lesser extent, do the readers have the ability to determine that?

There aren't many Editors on the internet.......

Rider,

Good point. I agree with you 100%...esp. about the amount of misleading and false information on the internet..

My only comment is that that's why it's useful to be informed--we have to be our own editors. And if you can't be informed then have the wit to ask people who have experience in the field--such as the OP did. And barring that, be skeptical--not dismissive, just cautious.

If we can't intelligently edit what we read on the internet, then we are at the mercy of every huckster and shylock in the world.
 
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TOstyle

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Thanks for the responses. I found the article very helpful, but didn't really have the context to know one way or the other. I have two follow-up questions.

Are there any other useful links/ resources you could recommend to learn more about qualities of leather?

Do you agree with my editorial spin on relative quality of shoes around the $500-800 range? I would trust you opinion on these, and I don't care one way or the other (ego-wise) if you pooh-pooh Carmina or C&J or Meermin etc. I would just rather understand the relative quality as best I can.
 

BD22

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The problem with all of these types of articles - especially on the internet - is that they constantly strive to find absolutes, at the expense of individual circumstances.
Are there any other useful links/ resources you could recommend to learn more about qualities of leather?
Limited to consumer-oriented journals and books available at local public and University libraries (and therefore not including, in particular, trade journals), my search for articles about clothing and shoes, particularly articles on the quality of materials and construction, has never produced very useful information. It's led me to think that most people who really care learn about this stuff never quite get the complete set of information they're looking for – this including people on SF who seemed at first to the contrary (perhaps DWFII can convince me otherwise).

What I mean by useful information is this. What are, if any exist, reliable indicators of different materials and methods of construction and what are the significant characteristics of these different materials and methods? By significant characteristics, I mean the attributes (e.g. richness of color, comfort after many hours of wear) and problems (e.g. tendency for the upper to wrinkle, tear or lose color, tendency for stitches to break) that consumers actually care about and how long these attributes last or before these problems arise for the different methods and materials.

For example, I've never come across anything but anecdotal examples of how long it takes for a full-grain vs, say, a top grain leather to wrinkle. Yet this is vital information when I'm making a purchase. What's much more common – and what RIDER's alluding to, I think – are marketing claims like "With use, full grain leather only becomes more beautiful and burnished." What does "beautiful and burnished" mean, in any case? In my experience, even my best EG's look better new than used even for a few months.
 

DWFII

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Limited to consumer-oriented journals and books available at local public and University libraries (and therefore not including, in particular, trade journals), my search for articles about clothing and shoes, particularly articles on the quality of materials and construction, has never produced very useful information. It's led me to think that most people who really care learn about this stuff never quite get the complete set of information they're looking for – this including people on SF who seemed at first to the contrary (perhaps DWFII can convince me otherwise).

What I mean by useful information is this. What are, if any exist, reliable indicators of different materials and methods of construction and what are the significant characteristics of these different materials and methods? By significant characteristics, I mean the attributes (e.g. richness of color, comfort after many hours of wear) and problems (e.g. tendency for the upper to wrinkle, tear or lose color, tendency for stitches to break) that consumers actually care about and how long these attributes last or before these problems arise for the different methods and materials.

For example, I've never come across anything but anecdotal examples of how long it takes for a full-grain vs, say, a top grain leather to wrinkle. Yet this is vital information when I'm making a purchase. What's much more common – and what RIDER's alluding to, I think – are marketing claims like "With use, full grain leather only becomes more beautiful and burnished." What does "beautiful and burnished" mean, in any case? In my experience, even my best EG's look better new than used even for a few months. 

First, I agree with most, if not all, you've said.

But learning about anything is incremental and either fuels itself or peters out like an engine running on fumes. When you first get interested, you gravitate to bland, easy-to-understand, over-generalized material...most of it factually inaccurate. The Internet is the "promised land" for such information.

If your interest is as keen as your idea of what good it will do you, you move on to more detailed information and more authoritative sources. And your questions and inquiries get more focused--the two go hand-in-hand. If not, you subside back into an incurious indifference in which you accept whatever is easy to accept.

And so it goes.

Eventually, if you pursue it with enough passion...zeal...it begins to coalesce into something greater than the sum of its parts. It almost becomes...in admittedly, a most attenuated fashion...a form of wisdom. Like the chess master who knows exactly what moves his opponent has available to him.

On a personal but perhaps more functional and specific level, I would direct your attention to the SF thread on Shoemaking Traditions and Techniques. I say personal because, I started the thread to address many of the issues you've raised. Perhaps you might even check out The Crispin Colloquy, if your interest leads you in that direction.
 
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TOstyle

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Thanks for your response guy that is helpful.

- I agree with your points, and I know this is an ongoing learning process. It took me at least 10 years to get "smart" on suiting, and even then it is a baseline level of knowledge, subject to interpretation and errors based on having a limited range of experience, and not knowing what I don't know.

From this I was hoping to get enough info to figure out if I was on the right track at all. It is a lot of trial and error, most of it subject to pretty heavy personal preferences as well (maybe I like wrinkles in my leather...), but being able to know enough to be self-aware and have an objective view on things is the goal.

I will definitely check out the thread, and hopefully I can help contribute to SF along the way.
 

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