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Jon Gray the shoemaker came to Ontario and I got a pair of...

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Asian Afro, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    That I have, but nothing more than that. I want a pair of dark brown oxfords that can be worn either with suits or business casual attire. I do some pavement walking--a few blocks a day, and the rest of walking indoors. The fact that I do pavement walking means I sometimes have to step into something messy, especially during the summer construction season. What I was trying to do with the list was really coming up with a set of things that I should not compromise in a pair of bespoke shoes, and gain more understanding on those things. But your suggestion about letting the shoemaker educate me is good. Are there important shoe questions I should ask that I haven't touched on?
    "What do you recommend?" I think you need to approach this as a collaboration...you cannot control (mind, I'm not saying that you're trying) this transaction entirely. If you start with a list of materials you do not wish to compromise on, you will almost inevitably be forced to compromise. If you start with a sense or understanding of what comprises quality, you may find a whole world opening up to you...at least by comparison. I know a lot of this sounds vague and doesn't help much but almost by default you're commissioning something that hasn't existed until now...that is not in a catalog or sitting on a shelf for you to try on. You have to trust the shoemaker. That's the devil's bargain--in a world where so many things we hold (or are sold to us) in such high expectation and which inevitably disappoint, you have to put yourself out there once again for something you cannot see or touch until it is made manifest. For all of that, it's an ancient enterprise which is the basis for, if not the essence of, the social contract and all human interaction.
     
  2. mktitsworth

    mktitsworth Senior member

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    I'll do it...although I might add that three (of eight) volumes of Golding are already on the HCC website for download.

    They, of course, are in the public domain, and readily available on Google(?) in a straight scan/bitmap version.

    The version on the HCC homepage is scanned and recognized and internally linked and doesn't have any of the obscuring artifacts that sometimes accompany a simple scan.

    Still free for all.


    *Cue NBC "The more you know music.*

    Excellent. Thanks. Grabbed them.
     
  3. Asian Afro

    Asian Afro Senior member

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    I think you need to approach this as a collaboration...

    Understood. I think I was afraid that since there were many parts to the shoe that I couldn't see, if I weren't specific enough in my order, that some assumptions might be made that wouldn't be to my liking, so I might have been a little aggressive.

    Jon will now have one less trying customer. [​IMG] Whoever shows up for my meeting in Ottawa might have fun watching me make my order, though.

    Thank you again.
     
  4. Asian Afro

    Asian Afro Senior member

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    Now a different topic: shoe trees.

    According to Jon, if I wanted lasted shoes trees then he would have to have my lasts made by Springline, and the lasts + trees would cost five times more than if I just had the lasts made elsewhere.

    Around Ottawa, the only shoe trees I could find were those by Moneysworth & Best, comparable to Woodlore's combination shoe trees. The few I bought were made in the USA, but they had been sitting on the shelves for ages, as every box was full of dust bunnies. The current ones are probably made in China.

    Jon said that we could look for something a little nicer, but didn't elaborate, and I figured I'd wait until I meet him in person and ask.

    So, to all you Canucks out there: if your shoes didn't come with trees, what trees did you use?
     
  5. Asian Afro

    Asian Afro Senior member

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    Did he specifically reference EG in regards to pricing? That would be tempting for bespoke. However, if he's referring to John Lobb/Corthay/Edward Green Top Drawer (~$1500) then that would definitely put it out of range for me.

    Thanks for following up on the antiquing question for me.


    You're welcome. No, Jon didn't refer to EG specifically, but the quote he gave me was in that ballpark, and NOT the JL/Corthay/Top Drawer territory.

    It would be in that higher range if I opted for lasted shoe trees and went through Springline, though.
     
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    You're welcome. No, Jon didn't refer to EG specifically, but the quote he gave me was in that ballpark, and NOT the JL/Corthay/Top Drawer territory. It would be in that higher range if I opted for lasted shoe trees and went through Springline, though.
    I don't know what it is...I have tried with all the powers of persuasion I can muster, calling in chits of friendship and debt, to get US/NA lastmakers to make lasted trees, or even just good shoes trees in the same styles as some of the old vintage shoes trees. But no joy. I don't much care for the trees that are on the market currently and I am not convinced that cedar brings much to the table, either. That said, unless you're making RTW shoes on standard size lasts, or carving your own lasts for bespoke shoes the way Anthony Delos does, a lasted shoe tree is probably a contradiction in terms. Having said that...and here I'll go out on a limb a bit...I'm not altogether sure that a lasted shoe tree is any better than a good fitting adjustable when it comes to keeping the shoe from curling up or losing its shape.
     
  7. Asian Afro

    Asian Afro Senior member

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    I don't much care for the trees that are on the market currently and I am not convinced that cedar brings much to the table, either.
    ...
    Having said that...and here I'll go out on a limb a bit...I'm not altogether sure that a lasted shoe tree is any better than a good fitting adjustable when it comes to keeping the shoe from curling up or losing its shape.


    So, should I start looking for vintage shoe trees online, or is there something that's between cedar and lasted shoe trees?
     
  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    So, should I start looking for vintage shoe trees online, or is there something that's between cedar and lasted shoe trees?
    There's some lovely vintage trees out there. But Jon will probably provide something tuned if not turned to the shoes he makes. My advice would be to wait and see what he comes up with. Unless you want to go lookin for vintage trees for your other shoes.
     
  9. Asian Afro

    Asian Afro Senior member

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    Just updated the original post to show that Jon Gray will be in Ottawa either on July 22nd or July 25th. He will meet prospective customers at E.R. Fisher.

    Will add other details of his itinerary in Ontario as I receive them.
     
  10. Asian Afro

    Asian Afro Senior member

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    There's some lovely vintage trees out there. But Jon will probably provide something tuned if not turned to the shoes he makes.

    My advice would be to wait and see what he comes up with. Unless you want to go lookin for vintage trees for your other shoes.


    I do have a new pair of shoes that don't have trees yet. Seems I've bought up small-sized shoe trees around here.

    What kind of vintage shoe trees should I look for? I imagine they should fill out the heel as well as the toe, but should they be hinged or adjustable? Do vents matter? (I see vents on the toes of some modern trees as well.)

    Here are some pictures I found on eBay.

    Hinged

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Adjustable (and hinged)

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I do have a new pair of shoes that don't have trees yet. Seems I've bought up small-sized shoe trees around here. What kind of vintage shoe trees should I look for? I imagine they should fill out the heel as well as the toe, but should they be hinged or adjustable? Do vents matter? (I see vents on the toes of some modern trees as well.) Here are some pictures I found on eBay. Hinged [​IMG] [​IMG] Adjustable (and hinged) [​IMG] [​IMG]
    I don't care for the Gucci's...they're probably made for loafers anyway. But the other two are beautiful, I'd jump at either.
     
  12. Odd I/O

    Odd I/O Senior member

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    Just updated the original post to show that Jon Gray will be in Ottawa either on July 22nd or July 25th. He will meet prospective customers at E.R. Fisher.

    Will add other details of his itinerary in Ontario as I receive them.


    Have you received any more information on Jon's Ontario visit specifically in the Toronto area? He hasn't responded to my e-mail inquiry.
     
  13. Geoff Gander

    Geoff Gander Senior member

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    Thanks, Asian Afro, for co-ordinating all of this. What time slot for the day in question is he looking at?
     
  14. Asian Afro

    Asian Afro Senior member

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    Have you received any more information on Jon's Ontario visit specifically in the Toronto area? He hasn't responded to my e-mail inquiry.

    I haven't heard from him since he confirmed an Ottawa visit (but not in detail). He said he won't know his firm schedule until after he's reached Ontario. I'll try to contact him.
     
  15. Asian Afro

    Asian Afro Senior member

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    I just heard from Jon. He had been teaching for a week at a school in Ontario where it was difficult for him to get online. He said he would get a firm date for Ottawa in a day or two. I'm hoping to get more information on the rest of his itinerary as well.
     
  16. Asian Afro

    Asian Afro Senior member

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    Still no updates from Jon yet. No idea what's keeping him. I hope Odd has had better luck.

    To keep things going in the meantime...

    The shoes I have in mind are austerity brogues in dark brown with round toes. Are there stylistic choices that I should avoid, and things they must have?

    By round toes, I mean toes that aren't particularly pointy. I do want the shoes to be somewhat refined--sort of like EG's 202 last (which some members here think is blobby). I like the general look of G&G's Connaught, but not the shape of the toe.

    As for the colour, I'm leaning towards dark oak right now. Is there a shade of dark brown that SF members like in particular?
     
  17. Odd I/O

    Odd I/O Senior member

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    Still no updates from Jon yet. No idea what's keeping him. I hope Odd has had better luck.

    To keep things going in the meantime...

    The shoes I have in mind are austerity brogues in dark brown with round toes. Are there stylistic choices that I should avoid, and things they must have?

    By round toes, I mean toes that aren't particularly pointy. I do want the shoes to be somewhat refined--sort of like EG's 202 last (which some members here think is blobby). I like the general look of G&G's Connaught, but not the shape of the toe.

    As for the colour, I'm leaning towards dark oak right now. Is there a shade of dark brown that SF members like in particular?


    I did finally get a reply from Jon.

    He's planning to be in Toronto during the week of July 17. The uncertainty with dates is due to his waiting to hear back from the Bata Shoe Museum which will determine the date.

    He's teaching in Haliburton and the delay in responding was attributed to internet access being more difficult than anticipated.
     
  18. Asian Afro

    Asian Afro Senior member

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    Just reformatted the original post as the move to the new system completely messed it up. :angry:

    Anyway, I got a call from Jon Gray today and he confirmed that he will be in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 26th. He plans to hold a shoe clinic at E.R. Fisher at 5 p.m.
     
  19. Mimosa

    Mimosa Well-Known Member

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    Will there be more details on the Bata Museum visit? In other words, when will he be available? Do we need to schedule an appointment?

    Thanks,

    Mim
     
  20. Asian Afro

    Asian Afro Senior member

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    I'll ask, but you might get a quicker response asking Odd I/O. I think he arranged to meet with Jon Gray, so he would know better than I.

    As for the Ottawa, people can just drop by E.R. Fisher that day around 5 p.m. I'm the only one who's ordering a pair for sure, I think, but can't hurt to have a dozen people showing up.
     

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