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Hand lasted vs machine lasted

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Tidybeard, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    DWFII, what kind of clothes do you wear? Aside from your nativist Celtic garb. - B
    I don't wear a kilt all that often...it is part of my family heritage but I would hardly call it "nativist" as I understand the word....maybe. I suspect if you saw me dressed up in my Sunday-go-to-meeting best, you would snicker, or at best, dismiss me from further consideration. I have an old hand me down Harris Tweed jacket and just this last Christmas I acquired a pair of wool slacks that cost me nearly $200.00. Before that I always wore a "reserved-for-dresst" pair of black Wranglers. Day to day it's jeans and shirts. I like, respect and admire fine clothes...unfortunately hand shoemaking is a 19th century trade and gets paid like it was still the 19th century...if only because of the widely held but sadly mistaken notion that a gemmed shoe with a fiberboard insole and celastic toe and heel stiffeners is good enough.
     
  2. furo

    furo Senior member

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    It has nothing to do with arrogance and everything to do with ignorance...

    You know nothing about shoes or shoemaking. Nothing.


    Those who have never made shoes don't get a voice in this...neither do those who have only casually toured a workshop or factory.

    /sigh
     
  3. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Senior member

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    I like, respect and admire fine clothes...unfortunately hand shoemaking is a 19th century trade and gets paid like it was still the 19th century...if only because of the widely held but sadly mistaken notion that a gemmed shoe with a fiberboard insole and celastic toe and heel stiffeners is good enough.

    Is it possible for you to see that what you settle for in your clothes appears to differ little from your critique of what most people settle for in RTW Goodyear welted shoes?


    - B
     
  4. George

    George Senior member

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    In the case of the silicon chip, there is no pre-industrial antecedent for comparison. Its own standards of quality are of a different order by virtue of when and where it arose than that of traditional Trades.
    I wasn't comparing it to any preceding manufacturing approach, I offered it as an example of something that could only be made by machine.
    I don't know what a fly press is...but again, I try very hard not to opine in too great a depth on subjects that I know next to nothing about. That said, and in line with my earlier remarks about machines being tools, some jobs only became possible as technology invented a tool to do it. However, if lifting a great weight or moving a huge amount of earth isn't by definition "dumbed down" I don't know what is.
    You've probably seen a fly press dozens of times. Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fly_press It's just a simple machine for increasing the force of the operator. Used for pressing in bearings, bushings etc.
    And in the context of a shoe factory, there is no machine that takes as much skill to operate as it takes to do the same job by hand. Period. Those who have never made shoes don't get a voice in this...neither do those who have only casually toured a workshop or factory.
    I agree completely in the context of shoe making and certain other crafts. However, there are other crafts where the use of machine tools is highly skilled. In some crafts machine tools offer the craftsman even more opportunity to express his or her creativity.
    Somewhere in here the whole idea of human nature and economics has to enter into it. If human beings can do a job skillfully, quickly, and cheaply enough to generate not just their own upkeep but a proportionally higher income for a manager or owner...someone who doesn't do any real work...then a machine is not needed. If a human being cannot do that then he/she will be replaced. And since most jobs in pre-industrial societies were comprised of many tasks...often making a shoe, for instance, from beginning to end...the replacements for those human beings must wither have the same skill set and experience or the job must be broken down into smaller, less complicated bits--ie. it is dumbed down."
    See Malthus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malthus
    More importantly, especially as it applies to the shoemaker and the whole notion of quality...there must be a human connection. The results must resonate with something inside of us to earn our respect and be termed quality. When there is little or no human involvement a machine becomes less a tool and more a stand-in for a human being. Because it is not, in fact, a human being with a brain and emotions and a sense of aesthetics...because it is mindless...what is produced is ticky-tacky, pure and simple. No highs no lows no failures, no excellence...no responsibility. And everything and everyone who comes into contact with that production loses a little bit of what makes them human trying to make it compatible with the reality of human existence.
    What makes you think that because something is made entirely by machine that it lacks a sense of aesthetic quality? They still have to be designed before they can be manufactured. Human intervention is never completely removed. There is design and there is manufacture.
    I simply don't agree with that. I think it is a bit arid for my tastes. As Bengal Strip and others have pointed out quality is more than functionality...or symmetry or efficiency or price. It is about the jewels in the movement, the materials used, and the way they are used. And yes it is about the way the product speaks to us both functionally and metaphysically.
    I have no problem with this view. However, it can be a problem when you chase aesthetics at the expense of the functional requirements. A shoes primary requirement is functional, not artistic, a hand crafted shoe is useless, no matter how beautiful if, after a few wearings the heel falls off or it starts to leak.
    I have watches from several centuries. The modern ones seem to run fine until they don't. The old ones aren't as reliable at this point in their lives although they do still run. I'll take the antiques over the techno-glitz any day.
    Well, watches are timepieces, that is, to tell the time and not the apsis of Mars. Watches with multiple complications are an abomination. To sum up. In many cases I don't think the argument that hand made is better than machine made stacks up in a purely performance terms. However, I do believe that bespoke rewards in other ways. Some being; creating something unique, a true one off; the opportunity for the customer to engage in the design process, helping to keep old crafts alive etc. Hand crafted objects have a strong emotional pull on people especially as we are finding ourselves living in a increasingly impersonal world.
     
  5. weilian

    weilian Senior member

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    Well, watches are timepieces, that is, to tell the time and not the apsis of Mars. Watches with multiple complications are an abomination.

    Thats a LIE!
     
  6. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I see furo went to the Mafoofan School of Debate.
    Furo's also right. He responded to DWFII's general claim about the relative difficulty of doing a job by machine with a counter example, which DWFII discounted with respect to an altogether different claim. Shifting like that is naturally frustrating to discussion.
    DWFII, are you familiar with the story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby?
    The problem is that determining who represents Brer Rabbit and who represents the Tar Baby in a debate is necessarily a matter of perspective prone to prejudice.
     
  7. George

    George Senior member

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    Furo's also right. He responded to DWFII's general claim about the relative difficulty of doing a job by machine with a counter example, which DWFII discounted with respect to an altogether different claim. Shifting like that is naturally frustrating to discussion. The problem is that determining who represents Brer Rabbit and who represents the Tar Baby in a debate is necessarily a matter of perspective prone to prejudice.
    You are like a mini-Socrates. Pass the Hemlock. [​IMG]
     
  8. RJman

    RJman Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The problem is that determining who represents Brer Rabbit and who represents the Tar Baby in a debate is necessarily a matter of perspective prone to prejudice.

    Insofar as basic literacy itself implies an imposition of perspective and prejudice on the part of the reader.
     
  9. Tidybeard

    Tidybeard Senior member

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    Just read the entire thread, thanks for all the responses.

    Any particular advantage to hand lasting over machine lasting?


    Er, do we have any suggestions?
     
  10. RJman

    RJman Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Just read the entire thread, thanks for all the responses.



    Er, do we have any suggestions?


    Some fellow who worked at Trickers and was quite nice had some input about this a few years ago. Too tired to hunt for it, his username (on AKAC?) was Tricker.
     
  11. sully

    sully Senior member

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    I am quite sure. Not so much...there were men's makers and women's makers. But the difference was that men work often consisted of working with leather that was heavily pigmented with lamp black. Women's work was comprised of tapestry materials and silks and fine fabrics. A man who had lamp black under his nails could not work on a bone silk shoe. Aside from patterning what do you think is missing? Why is it that Lobbs of London (and many other makers of top shelf men's shoes characterize themselves as Bootmakers or Bottiers?

    I read in an archive that in London the workers were more specialized than that and that certain shops were famed for particular work. Many of the old firms were originally known as bootmakers because boots were the footwear of the day ,with shoes becoming more popular later.
    Womens work was also often made from kidskin and baby calf as well as fabrics
    I would be very interested to see a John Lobb attempt at a western style cowboy boot.
    Have you found high end shoemaking easy, does it involve more or less time or skill, can we see some sample pics of shoes please.
     
  12. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Insofar as basic literacy itself implies an imposition of perspective and prejudice on the part of the reader.
    I disagree. Even when the Tar Baby story is properly understood, the way it analogizes to real-life interactions still hinges on personal perspective. Brer Rabbit sticks to the Tar Baby as much as the Tar Baby sticks to him and they are equally entangled with each other at the end. One is not any more tenacious than the other. The only differences are that the narrative exposes us to Brer Rabbit's feelings, not the Tar Baby's, and we are told that the Tar Baby is part of a scheme to entrap Brer Rabbit. Thus, when you analogize the story, you are necessarily identifying differences in motivation, not behavior. Perceptions of others' unspoken motivations are highly unreliable and prone to bias.
     
  13. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Vass are hand welted and EG machine. I think Vass are somehow "nicer" but I can't explain quite why.
     
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    It's aggravating to me because especially in the case of Furo, we've had this discussion before with the exact same results. Quibbling,. speculation, and accusations of arrogance. I am a small fish in a small pond. Not even the proverbial big fish in a small pond. But it is my natural environment. I don't pretend to know much about anything other than shoemaking. I don't challenge people who are knowledgeable in other fields very much. I don't try to impose my preconceived notions on their areas of expertise/experience. I don't speculate and I don't pose and I don't quibble. I know the limits of my knowledge and the limits of my ignorance. In some areas it is vast and in others it is not so much. Now tell me what is arrogance? The willingness to sit down and share experiences and insights that might otherwise never be seen and do it with...mostly... good grace and patience; or the disrespect that is implied when someone who doesn't have any first hand knowledge of a subject nevertheless feels compelled to challenge and discount everything someone who has that knowledge has to say? Where is arrogance? I would suggest that the very definition of arrogance is ignorance that refuses to learn. Especially when presented with the opportunity.
     
  15. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Senior member

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    I disagree. Even when the Tar Baby story is properly understood, the way it analogizes to real-life interactions still hinges on personal perspective. Brer Rabbit sticks to the Tar Baby as much as the Tar Baby sticks to him and they are equally entangled with each other at the end. One is not any more tenacious than the other. The only differences are that the narrative exposes us to Brer Rabbit's feelings, not the Tar Baby's, and we are told that the Tar Baby is part of a scheme to entrap Brer Rabbit. Thus, when you analogize the story, you are necessarily identifying differences in motivation, not behavior. Perceptions of others's unspoken motivations are highly unreliable and prone to bias.

    Food for thought.

    Vass are hand welted and EG machine. I think Vass are somehow "nicer" but I can't explain quite why.

    Good observations, Manton.


    - B
     
  16. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Senior member

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    Where is arrogance? I would suggest that the very definition of arrogance is ignorance that refuses to learn. Especially when presented with the opportunity.

    Your opinions have overall been treated with a lot of good will, respect and interest. Moreover, very early on you were effective in demonstrating that what many English speaking buyers think of as the apex shoes of RTW have certain attributes invisible to the buyer that represent quality inconsistent with what is shown in the visible parts of the shoe.

    In addition, many sympathize with your feeling that the asymmetry of quality between what is visible and what is not in these shoes represents a kind of aesthetic compromise or even dishonesty that falls short of what we would hope to be ideal. Others, however, do not care, and are unable to muster that much energy of thought and feeling about shoes at this intricate level of analysis.

    That being said, there are many well turned out guys who wear RTW Lobbs, EGs, Westons, Aldens, etc. who are neither crippled nor impoverished by the experience. Nor do I think it is conclusive that the Vass wearer is sitting pretty in the way that the Lobb Prestige wearer is not.


    - B
     
  17. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    It's aggravating to me because especially in the case of Furo, we've had this discussion before with the exact same results. Quibbling,. speculation, and accusations of arrogance.

    I am a small fish in a small pond. Not even the proverbial big fish in a small pond. But it is my natural environment. I don't pretend to know much about anything other than shoemaking. I don't challenge people who are knowledgeable in other fields very much. I don't try to impose my preconceived notions on their areas of expertise/experience. I don't speculate and I don't pose and I don't quibble.

    I know the limits of my knowledge and the limits of my ignorance. In some areas it is vast and in others it is not so much.

    Now tell me what is arrogance? The willingness to sit down and share experiences and insights that might otherwise never be seen and do it with...mostly... good grace and patience; or the disrespect that is implied when someone who doesn't have any first hand knowledge of a subject nevertheless feels compelled to challenge and discount everything someone who has that knowledge has to say?

    Where is arrogance? I would suggest that the very definition of arrogance is ignorance that refuses to learn. Especially when presented with the opportunity.


    I think you're taking this discussion the wrong way.

    I dont think its arrogant to want to have a discussion about something that someone is well-trained in and to argue a point, I think its just simply Furos way of understanding something, as it is many times.

    I dont believe it fair for you to impose on us the idea that we should take everything you say as fact without debate. No one is discounting what your saying, IMO, they simply are trying to find out more information.
     
  18. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I think you're taking this discussion the wrong way. I dont think its arrogant to want to have a discussion about something that someone is well-trained in and to argue a point, I think its just simply Furos way of understanding something, as it is many times. I dont believe it fair for you to impose on us the idea that we should take everything you say as fact without debate. No one is discounting what your saying, IMO, they simply are trying to find out more information.
    I don't think I'm doing that. I have said many times even in this thread that my words are not written in stone. There are a few people whose opinions I value here who disagree with me. No big deal. We all are ignorant about some things. We all start out ignorant about everything. But determined, and self-satisfied, ignorance is another thing altogether. Bengal-Stripe is not a shoemaker. I doubt that he has ever even tried to execute more than one or two techniques common to shoemakers. Yet he has taken the time to learn and to educate himself about shoes. We don't always agree...sometimes we disagree vehemently. But I respect his opinions because he is informed and interested in more than just quibbling. He seems to read every post for content and not just points for controversy. I don't think it is arrogant to want to have a discussion about these issues, either. I wouldn't be here...an open book, willing to answer anyone and everyone...if I did. I just object when posts like the Harry Reid post are made. There is no understanding...no attempt at understanding...in such posts. When someone comes to a conversation, asking is the best way to gain understanding. But honestly, if you don't have a body of experience...if everything you know or think you know is second and third-hand or hearsay...then it is unlikely that we will have a language or a world view in common. Again, the only way to rectify that is to ask and to listen. Until that common language is established you're not going to understand what I'm saying and I may not understand you either. Quibbling about pottery--a non sequitur in the context of shoe factories, which I stipulated--is just that...quibbling. You can call it what you want but it doesn't make it germane.
     
  19. apropos

    apropos Senior member

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    While I thought it was incorrect to label DWFII as 'arrogant'...
    I don't wear a kilt all that often...it is part of my family heritage but I would hardly call it "nativist" as I understand the word....maybe. I suspect if you saw me dressed up in my Sunday-go-to-meeting best, you would snicker, or at best, dismiss me from further consideration. I have an old hand me down Harris Tweed jacket and just this last Christmas I acquired a pair of wool slacks that cost me nearly $200.00. Before that I always wore a "reserved-for-dresst" pair of black Wranglers. Day to day it's jeans and shirts. I like, respect and admire fine clothes...unfortunately hand shoemaking is a 19th century trade and gets paid like it was still the 19th century...if only because of the widely held but sadly mistaken notion that a gemmed shoe with a fiberboard insole and celastic toe and heel stiffeners is good enough.
    Is it possible for you to see that what you settle for in your clothes appears to differ little from your critique of what most people settle for in RTW Goodyear welted shoes? - B
    ... I think that this warrants a [​IMG] If anything, this entire thread shows that craftsmen/aficionados of craftsmanship have differing POVs and priorities on what constitutes 'good' when compared to the consumer. Unfortunately for the former group, there are a lot more of the latter group.
     
  20. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Is it possible for you to see that what you settle for in your clothes appears to differ little from your critique of what most people settle for in RTW Goodyear welted shoes? - B
    Oh, absolutely! We all have our priorities. And I would not (have not, as far as possible) ever said otherwise. I would not gainsay anyone else's priorities. That said, I would not be so pretentious as to contend that my Harris Tweed jacket is on a par with a Saville Row suit coat or that of a bespoke West End tailor. I know and acknowledge the difference. And when I win the lottery, you can be dern sure that I will ask, and listen, and ask again...and then I will buy the very best that I can afford...or maybe the very best that I have immediate access to (which may be the same thing). And if it's not an Anderson & Sheppard (substitute your pick) well, I won't pretend it's just as good as. Buying the best you can afford is all that can be asked of anyone. Pretending...or contending...it's the best there is, is another thing altogether. That said, I don't post to these threads specifically to shatter illusions but rather to suggest that there's more to it than meets the eye.
     

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