Leather or rubber soles?

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

  1. freedom_fries

    freedom_fries Senior member

    Messages:
    541
    Likes Received:
    44
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2011
    I do like Dainite soles as my biggest gripe with leather is that they leave my feet wet and cold after walking about in rain (my feet always seem to be cold anyways). Still, in my experience Dainite doesn't seem to be very grippy at all. I have a pair of country shoes with commando soles that I use for work if there's actual snow/ice. It looks a bit daft with a suit but my place of work is full of people wearing odd get-ups.
     


  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,329
    Likes Received:
    2,950
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    And I've been making shoes and boots, full time, for over 40 years. Whatever you've experienced is almost unimportant---it's one rather limited POV and one that does not, fundamentally, have even the knowledge or background to know what to look for.

    95 out of a 100 people on this forum...99.9 out of a 100 in the world at large... wouldn't know or recognize the problems of GY inseam breakdown if it was photographed and shown to them (as a series of previous posts I made prove). Much less the difference between a leatherboard insole and a leather insole.

    In fact, when you get right down to it, most people on this forum welcome the opportunity to buy a new pair of shoes in the latest fashion...if only to brag about it...and so the premature breakdown of a shoe isn't an issue they are going to remember.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013


  3. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

    Messages:
    8,353
    Likes Received:
    5,763
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Location:
    Oakville, Ontario, CANADA
    Quote:Right. So I guess I'm just lucky then. Skipped through that minefield of dire consequences year in and year out completely unscathed. Or maybe my shoes stand on the very brink of destruction and I remain blissfully unaware. Tell me - how does one know when one's shoes smell bad? This is one of the stated consequences of synthetic soles or outsoles, right? Do you just use your nose, or is there something in 40 years of shoemaking experience that is needed to make that observation? And if my insole isn't torn, worn through, curled, cracked, warped, lifting or the like - is it possible that it has nonetheless been somehow grievously damaged by a rubber outsole in some way that I am unable to detect? And is it possible that the similarly undamaged insole (at least to my oh-so-amateur eye) on my leather soled shoes migth also have suffered some terrible deterioration that I am am similarly unqualified to observe? Sorry. I'm sticking with more notional than real on this one. I don't need to invent things to worry about - life provides quite enough real jeopardy for my liking.
     


  4. YRR92

    YRR92 Senior member

    Messages:
    2,345
    Likes Received:
    1,826
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2012
    I've never heard of "leatherboard." Is that sort of like particleboard, but with leather? Does that have any bearing on either the cork filler or the glued feather on a GY-welt shoe?
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013


  5. freedom_fries

    freedom_fries Senior member

    Messages:
    541
    Likes Received:
    44
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2011
    I'm not sure I would agree that most people on this forum are looking for the latest fashion trends in footwear, at least on the classic menswear side (I wouldn't even know what the latest trends in men's foowear are).

    But regarding the other point - I'm not sure long even a very well-made shoe will last me if I'm generally using it for winter duty, especially when you're living in a place with harsh winter weather.
     


  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,329
    Likes Received:
    2,950
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    You have experience with one set of feet--your own. I have experience with literally thousands. Maybe you have indeed escaped the consequences I described. Maybe, and just as likely, you are just ignorant and unable to recognize what you're seeing.

    One other aspect...feet change as we age. They get longer and sometimes thinner as ligaments stretch and the architectural structure of the foot breaks down. Body chemistry changes too, depending on what we are exposed to in the way of the foods we eat and the environment we are exposed to. And sometimes just age and naturally declining resistance affect body chemistry.

    In time your feet can become more "fragrant"...of course you won't recognize it unless it really gets bad anymore than you'll recognize any other body odor or bad breath. But other people will. The perspiration from your feet may become more acidic and you may slough off more dead skin cells. All of these things create and environment in your shoes that can smell and that have negative effects on the shoe.

    Now...in passing, i didn't say all feet will be affected. Some will, some won't. You're passing your opinion off as something that will apply more or less across the board. Again you can't speak for anyone but yourself and I speak for many, many different shoes/feet over many, many years.
     


  7. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

    Messages:
    8,353
    Likes Received:
    5,763
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Location:
    Oakville, Ontario, CANADA
    Quote:Sell it as hard as you like - you don't have a buyer in me. Perhaps others who have had their synthetic soled shoes stink to high heaven and fall apart will chime in. Surely among the thousands for whom you claim to speak there are at least a few willing to speak for themselves? I'll look forward to reading their accounts of how rubber outsoles destroyed both their shoes and their feet.
     


  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,329
    Likes Received:
    2,950
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    Yes. It is quite common in low to mid range RTW shoes. Often it is covered, of course, with a "sock" (a thin sockliner) that is itself real leather but has no structural or functional importance.

    Leatherboard is made by taking scraps from manufacturing operations that use real leather (not necessarily shoemaking), grinding them up and mixing the resulting particles with a rubberized solution that binds them together. Paperboard (which is also used in low-mid ranges shoes) uses paper and cloth rather than leather. Otherwise it's much the same.

    The only bearing it has on the filling is that GY construction is a cheaper method of construction that relies on cement to hold the gemming/inseam in place, and as such is often associated with...and lends itself very well to...cheaper insole materials such as leatherboard and paperboard. GY construction nearly demands a cork filler because of the cavity that is formed between the under-surface of the insole and the insole-side of the outsole.

    --
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013


  9. YRR92

    YRR92 Senior member

    Messages:
    2,345
    Likes Received:
    1,826
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2012
    So, because the insole doesn't "hold the shoe together" in the same way as on a handwelted shoe, it's possible to use materials with less structural integrity at the expense of longevity? Can these materials (which I presume are much cheaper) be used in blake/rapid shoes?

    Why are blake/rapid shoes so often cheaper than GY-welt shoes with equivalent workmanship?

    Sorry for all the questions, but I'm curious.
     


  10. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,329
    Likes Received:
    2,950
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    There's where you make your big mistake. I don't care whether you're a buyer or not. I'm not trying to sell you anything. I'm not even trying to convince you because people like you can't be convinced...even by the facts.

    I don't post in hopes of bringing folks like you out of the woodwork. I post because I have something unique and positive to offer...as opposed to just another in a seemingly endless supply of vitriolic, snarky , and more often than not, completely speculative opinion/troll.

    I share with the general membership of the StyleForum a unique perspective based on a long and intimate experience with the techniques and the materials that go into making shoes. A perceptive that is rare on this forum.

    Perhaps just as importantly, I don't talk or post about stuff I know nothing about.

    Take it or leave it. Learn or wallow in ignorance.

    Whenever I run across someone like yourself I always think of this:

     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013


  11. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,329
    Likes Received:
    2,950
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    No problem...

    It's not just possible, it is almost inevitable. If you don't need the structural integrity and strength of a more expensive material...ie. leather...then it makes no economic sense to use it. Some people will do fine with GY shoes esp. if they are in a rotation that sees them in use...on carpets, primarily...less than several times a year. Because they last under those kinds of circumstances, doesn't make the materials or the techniques "best practices" or even quality. Paper shoes will last years and years if not used regularly.

    Blake-rapid? I know the technique. I have even done shoes with an older more traditional precursor of the the technique. But while such material are often used in B/R, sometimes they don't even have a proper insole--relying on the attachment to the mid-sole to provide the structure.

    Why might they be cheaper? I don't know...simply because every commercial example I have ever run across was a high-end, more expensive, shoe...usually Italian. Blake (as opposed to Blake-Rapid) is another story altogether.

    --
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013


  12. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

    Messages:
    8,353
    Likes Received:
    5,763
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Location:
    Oakville, Ontario, CANADA
    What a wonderful world you live in, being the sole repository of knowledge where all else is ignorance. Whenever I run across someone like yourself I mostly just laugh.

    In my experience, the real experts in any given field are widely known and recognized, such that they don't have to trumpet their expertise every time they open their mouths. Is your experience different?

    I will wait patiently for just a handful of those voiceless thousands to tell their own tales of synthetic sole devastation. Though I suspect I am in for a long wait.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013


  13. nh10222

    nh10222 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    14
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    


    I am always keen to read DWFII's posts and benefit from decades of experience in the craft. In my last post I said I could only think of about three benefits of leather soles over rubber - perhaps I now have four, the fourth being the potential impact of rubber's propensity to "spread and stay spread" on structural integrity, but I thought Dainite was a very hard rubber that sprung back.

    When it comes to rubber soles and breathing, I can't say I notice much difference in foot temperature between comparable shoes.

    Many of my shoes are made from Horween "Shell Cordovan" and that seems to be warmer than calf. Running shoes, with all the air holes in their uppers, are in my experience the most comfortable for heavy duty movement, despite the fact that they have rubber/synthetic soles that cannot breathe in the way leather soles supposedly do. While sitting or walking indoors with running shoes I think my feet do sometimes feel slightly warmer than in calfskin dress shoes, but once I start moving more quickly the situation levels out. Perhaps that is something to do with the way the awful synthetic materials in running shoes tightly hug the feet and don't wick away moisture. When I go sockless in running shoes (not often) I can clearly feel the cold air flowing into the uppers through the airholes, but at the same time going sockless also seems to make my feet sweat more against the synthetic lining. Foot temperature is something I will keep a closer eye on with my various types of shoes.

    I have found that running shoes often begin to smell after awhile, but they are worn far more intensively than Goodyear welted products (i.e. almost every day, minimal resting/rotation) in circumstances where the feet are bound to sweat along with the rest of the body, and apparently they can be washed. I have never had an odour problem with decent quality Goodyear welted, Dainite soled shoes, but I don't spend 30 minutes on a treadmill or cross-trainer at the gym with them, either (I doubt they or my feet and joints would last long if I did). They have a very different and overall an easier life than running shoes, which only last (at best) about three years before disintegration begins (and apparently a much shorter time before cushioning performance deteriorates).


    Yes, I must be lucky, too. My Dainite soled shoes are holding up very well. So are my feet, as far as I know. For all the supposed benefits of leather, my joints feel better after wearing Dainite (or running shoes) for my regular 5.5 mile walks.

    I have virtually nil experience with cheap rubber soled dress shoes so cannot comment on their performance with regard to durability, foot temperature, odour, etc.


    I'm pretty sure I have a mid-low range pair of AE loafers with a leatherboard or paperboard insole. It is very hard, uncomfortable and cheap looking. Can't be sure, though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2013


  14. VinnyMac

    VinnyMac Senior member

    Messages:
    1,868
    Likes Received:
    139
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    This is one of the most widely applicable quotes to SF that I've seen.
     


  15. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

    Messages:
    8,353
    Likes Received:
    5,763
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Location:
    Oakville, Ontario, CANADA

    So no damage to you shoes or your feet from wearing synthetic soles? Are you sure? Perhaps, like me, you are simply unable to detect that your feet are in poor health and that your shoes smell and are falling apart. Or, you could just be lucky, too.

    Or perhaps there is someone else who can't be convinced.... even by the facts.
     


Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by