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Leather or rubber soles?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by nordicstyle, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I understand but when I made that comment I was quoting directly from your post. I thought you were repeating it because you believed it. My apologies but the remark was valid in any context.

    Well, believing what you read on the Internet or coming from people who don't really know what they are talking about is the biggest part of the problem. Accepting that "industrial processes are dirty and/or toxic" and that there's nothing we (esp. as consumers) can do about it, is the other half.

    If "knowlege is power" ignorance is dependency.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
  2. nh10222

    nh10222 Well-Known Member

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    It wasn't news. I'm sure most regulars have seen similar discussion on here and elsewhere online before. My conclusion hasn't changed: while it is a concern, I'm not going to stop buying average leather shoes from average makers, with leather or rubber soles.

    But there was some truth in the message of the original post, wasn't there? That is, toxic or environmentally harmful chemicals are involved in the production of some leathers and shoes generally, the avoidance of which is easier said than done.
     
  3. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Well yes, but if you're "not going to stop buying average leather shoes from average makers, with leather or rubber soles" then what difference does it make?

    On the other hand, if these things concern you...if they concern anyone enough buy into bogus half truths...then there are alternatives.

    Not to mention "the facts ma'am."
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
  4. nh10222

    nh10222 Well-Known Member

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    I think the simple fact is that most of us either cannot afford or are not willing to drop the kind of cash required to get an entire rotation of top quality, environmentally-friendly-as-can-be footwear for all dress codes. I'm still aware of some of the unfortunate realities of the choices I make as a consumer but in the end other considerations tend to take precedence.

    Quote:
    A big chunk of my collection is hand-welted with oak bark tanned soles. As for the leather, I'm not sure. Unfortunately, some of my best-fitting boots are from the cheaper end of the spectrum, complete with your favourite cemented Goodyear welt and probably made from chrome-tanned leather. It sucks that they fit better than high quality hand-welted shoes costing >30% more, but that's the way it is. Bespoke is not a realistic option for me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
  5. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Well if anyone thought I was implying that rubber is safe to make and/or discard......I never came close to implying that. Of course it involves dangerous health and environmental issues. And if anyone is really that sincere regarding those issues then they shouldn't be driving a car (or bike for that matter). They both are equipped with rubber tires last I knew. For that matter if you are really sincere about killing innocent animals why use leather for anything that you may be manufacturing? If you are being sincere that, to me is hypocritical. I guess if you can make a buck on it, you'll do it......

    My point was (and I apologize if I didn't make this clear), like it or not, the fact is rubber is becoming more and more popular to be used on yes, even men's dress shoe soles. I see it far more than anyone else that contributes to this forum does. C&J is a traditional UK maker. They prefer to use leather for their soling. However, they are conscience of trends and demands (as any successful business would be). They spent their time and money developing and improving a product that they are confident will meet and excel there customers demands and expectations. The reason that they have an exclusive on the product is simply because they made the investment. From what I hear there are more rubber dress soles being developed in the pipeline, I'm not at liberty to say though.....

    Okay, so "soles are traditionally and almost to a product vegetable tanned" given. Maybe we can be enlightened to why they don't make them (as far as I'm aware) here in the U.S.?
    Why does Baker claim that they are the last oak bark maker left in the U.K.? Why is it that if you want to offer oak bark you have to go to the U.K -or- Germany? That really limits the choices. One would think that because of such a void there would be tremendous opportunities in manufacturing oak bark soling leather produced here in the U.S. From a business stand-point anybody speculating would first say that anything (oak bark soling) coming here from Europe, that the makers have to pay shipping, tariffs and, paperwork expenses that later get passed along to the end-buyer. Surely that leaves an advantage regarding pricing for a U.S. maker.

    We know that years ago there were 100's probably over 1000 tanneries here in the U.S. Research will tell you that they employed 1000's of people. Many times they were the main source of employment for towns and even smaller cities. Where did they go? What happen to all of those jobs? From a business stand-point I would guess it would be very lucrative to invest in such a safe tanning process to tan soling leather here in the U.S.

    I guess I'm missing something. Maybe someone can enlighten us......
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I suspect you are...

    Anytime someone draws a comparison, even if only by juxtaposition, between the vast and presumably laudable investments of a company into R&D to develop yet another rubber outsole (with no mention of the downside) and the terrible and abhorrent damage that is being done by the tannage of leather outsoles (using, I might add, objectively and demonstrably erroneous and misconstrued information) they are making a point. And everybody knows it. And any pretense that it was somehow innocent is just that--pretense.

    Why are there so few vegetable tanners in the US? ...simply because of a self-same sort of indifference to the facts. Simply because it is easier to ignore the truth when it starts to bother our conscience or, more importantly, mess with out pocketbooks. For the same reason that GY is ascendant. For the same reason celastic toeboxes and leatherboard insoles are ascendant. For the same reason that chrome tannage is the preferred medium of even some bespoke makers...despite the photos, despite the evidence, despite the facts.

    And because good leather takes up to a year to produce. And it's superficially so much easier and cheaper to make rubber outsoles...and so many in this society consider cost the prime incentive. The ultimate costs...the hidden and deferred costs...we pass on to our kids.

    Maybe we can't get away from rubber tires but the minute we make excuses or defend what is ultimately a bad and sad state of affairs--the moment we delude ourselves into thinking that we are helpless, we are.

    --
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
  7. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    As I figured.....distort what I wrote, put words in my mouth, avoid answering legitimate questions, rather, employing your paranoia.
    Pay attention to the last four words spoken here:


    I don't care to partake in such adolescent posturing. It's like two hogs fighting over a Milk Dud.....you can have it, enjoy!

    Going back there was a mention of a John Lobb rubber sole (I think it was from BengalStripe) it's called "The November". I highly doubt it is made by Dainite, it's softer than what they would typically produce.
     
  8. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Thanks Ron!
     
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Yes, thank you for exposing the intellectual underbelly (and the fundamental dishonesty) of the "factory mentality."

    1.) Baloney! Anyone that actually rolls the cement off his own fingers rather than watch someone else do it on theirs will confirm the nonsense of that statement. The very fact that leather outsoles absorb water...can actually become saturated...and rubber won't absorb a drop gives the lie to that thesis. If moisture can "wick" in (be absorbed), it can wick out.

    2.) Baloney again. It's confusing the facts and tarring the whole industry with the same brush that rightfully pertains primarily to the process of chrome tanning.

    Waste disposal with veg tanning is focused on keeping run-off out of ground water...no one likes to have tap water turn brown, even though the most active ingredient is tannin (the same chemical found in wine and tea). And some of the disdain for tanning in the US is, again, related to "after-the-fact" additives used to accelerate the process--additives often derived from the petro-chemical industry.

    Waste disposal for chrome tanning is more like disposing of nuclear waste--there is no safe place for it and no way to make it safe.

    People can point to the dearth of veg tanneries in the US...it's a bogus argument when you really understand the "gestalt"--the history, the social and financial pressures, the misinformation and the lazy minded inability (or unwillingness) to distinguish facts from supposition, etc.--but the fact is that there are veg tanneries in the US. And the corresponding (but unspoken) fact is that the number of chrome tanneries in the US is just as small and diminishing....and with more reason.

    But that never was the point, in any case. While one segment of the tanning industry is demonstrably toxic, that part could be eliminated or shut down and we would still be able to make outsoles, uppers, and shoes out of leather (well, some could). That's an objective and historically demonstrable fact.

    Veg tanned leather is relatively safe and, with minimal effort, environmentally neutral.

    No aspect of the petro-chemical industry is.

    Don't believe it? Again, look up The Pacific Vortex and realize that what you see is a tiny fraction of what lies at the bottom. Look at the smog in our cities, the carbon dioxide levels in the air, at global warming, at coral bleaching, the loss of major pollinators such as honeybees, and at the rising incidence of skin and lung cancer and heart disease.

    And that's just the tip of the iceberg--the bulk of it lies under the surface...unseen, unknown and, all too often, willfully ignored.

    These problems are not, and historically never have been, caused by the leather industry (excepting chrome tanning). They all...to a fault...relate to the petro-chemical industry and the products that are derived from it, and which we here so blithely and blindly dismiss or excuse. It begs the question: When does excuse making or willful ignorance become hypocrisy and/or self-delusion?

    3.) It is contradictory (and misleading) to state that leather soles don't breathe any better than rubber on one hand and then turn around and assert that "once you go to pvc coated upper, pleather linings, fiberboard insoles, etc., all bets are off." It demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding about the materials and the techniques.

    If leather outsoles don't breathe and/or don't aid in alleviating perspiration and heat build up in the shoe, it is simply and entirely because of all the (or any) All Purpose cement that is used to mount them. At some point what you really have is a thin rubber (neoprene) midsole sandwiched between the insole and the outsole. If you coat / seal off a leather outsole (nevermind the insole) with a rubber product...how is that functionally different from a "pvc coated upper?"

    You had it right the first time--at that point "all bets are off."


    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
  10. nh10222

    nh10222 Well-Known Member

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    I think leather has a higher thermal permeability than rubber, which is advantageous in some circumstances and not in others.

    In hot weather, walking on hot surfaces, my feet tend to get hotter with thin leather soles. In some cases I can literally feel the hot pavement through the soles with every step, which is not particularly pleasant. Similarly, in a cold environment, my feet get colder faster with thin leather soles. My feet cool down quickly if I enter a cool, air-conditioned building after a long walk outside on single leather soles. How much of that is due to the wicking action of leather versus its thermal permeability characteristics is hard to say, but I think the latter is a significant factor. This effect is most obvious in my hand-welted boots from Clifford Roberts, which I do like a lot. Presumably there is less material between the inner sole and outer sole, like cork filler and cement.

    With rubber, there appears to be more insulation, in addition to cushioning and grip.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
  11. Louis Forde

    Louis Forde Member

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    Most of my shoes are brogues or oxfords (generally brought from sanders, churches, cheaney or John Lobb). I'd love to walk around in leather soles, but living in colder and wetter climes as I do they'd wear out far too quickly. As such I normally place a rubber sole on all my shoes.
     

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