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Once More - What Makes for a "Handmade" Shoe?

Roger

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We often see the term "handmade" in reference to shoes--often in connection with shoes like Allen-Edmonds that have no hand work. Sometimes, we see the equally vague "benchmade."

This question, however, is focused on shoes that actually have some hand work in them and are not entirely made on machines. Thus, I'm thinking of the Santoni Fatte a Mano line, top-of-the-line Sutor Mantellassis (that retail for close to $1K), Vass, EG, etc. It's perhaps the case that the particular features that receive the hand work differ from one brand to another, and thus the question may have to be answered brand by brand.

So, Jcusey, AHarris, Bengal-stripe, Medwards, APortnoy, Iammatt, and any other scholars of the cordwainers' art and craft, what is it that is handmade, and what is machine-made, in shoes that can lay some claim to this the term "handmade"?

BTW, I know that the question of "handmade" has arisen from time to time on this and other forums, but usually in more general terms than this, so as to include suits, jackets, shirts, etc., too.
 

Manton

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"I see the river Tiber foaming with much blood."
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by Manton
"I see the river Tiber foaming with much blood."
I hardly recognize you with your new picture. I vote for hand welted.
 

A Harris

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My personal opinion is that in order to be called handmade, a shoe should at least have the welt seam sewn by hand. Otherwise I think the term hand finished more appropriate.
 

Demeter

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Originally Posted by A Harris
My personal opinion is that in order to be called handmade, a shoe should at least have the welt seam sewn by hand. Otherwise I think the term hand finished more appropriate.

+1 on this from me. That qualifies the shoe to be placed in the category.

Maybe it's question of whether a shoe can actually be fully made by hand, without complicated machinery (sewing machines, welt stitchers, solers, etc.), in which case the answer is a simple 'no.' Even on a fully 'hand made' shoe, the upper is obviously stitched by a machine, and not by hand, but everything else can be done by hand with rudimentary tools.

However, I don't know if this should disqualify it from the category.
 

zjpj83

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It's really not very relevant to me, to be honest. Handwork on all of my other clothing is more important to me than on my shoes. I love a beveled waist, and I love a handsewn apron and split toe. But other than that, I really don't care if one pair of shoes has more handwork than another. Some shoes that claim to have lots of handwork like Kiton don't have beveled waists and thus don't have one of the features that handwork really adds to the shoes. I really don't see the point there. I would rather have Lobb Prestige than Kiton, and I don't care how much handwork I am sacrificing there.
 

argoth

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Interesting thread. What is the consensus on the term "hand crafted"? I imagine it holds a meaning closer to "hand finished", but are they synonymous?

Arg
 

Roger

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Originally Posted by iammatt
I vote for hand welted.
Iammatt, by this do you mean that the cordwainer hand sews the welt to the upper/insole structure? That is, hand-sewing through the bottom/inside of the welt through the feather, enclosing the upper between the two, instead of using a Goodyear machine to do this? Would you also include the stitching of the welt to the outsole--i.e., would this have to be hand done too?

What about hand-lasting? I assume that with mass-produced, machine-made shoes, the upper is fit around the last by machine too.
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by Roger
Iammatt, by this do you mean that the cordwainer hand sews the welt to the upper/insole structure? That is, hand-sewing through the bottom/inside of the welt through the feather, enclosing the upper between the two, instead of using a Goodyear machine to do this? Would you also include the stitching of the welt to the outsole--i.e., would this have to be hand done too?

What about hand-lasting? I assume that with mass-produced, machine-made shoes, the upper is fit around the last by machine too.

I would say that anything that includes handstitching the welt on to the shoe would be where "handmade" really starts. I supposet the sole stitch should be done this way as well. Basically, if the "maker" in British terminology does the welting and the sewing of the sole, than if these parts are done by hand (without Goodyear machine), it would be handmade. As far as what is important, how the shank and inner area are done makes a big difference in weight and comfort.
 

zjpj83

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Originally Posted by argoth
Interesting thread. What is the consensus on the term "hand crafted"? I imagine it holds a meaning closer to "hand finished", but are they synonymous?

Arg

Honestly, it means whatever the hell the company wants it to mean. As long as some human's hands touched the shoes before they went in the box, they could probably say it's "handmade" without legal problems. There's no "SEC" of shoe-making who regulates these terms, and many makers and sellers are prone to hyperbole.
 

argoth

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I believe you are correct to say that a company may misuse terms in the hopes of misleading the consumer and increasing sales. I, however, hope that through questions like the one presented I can be educated to the point where I am not guilty of the same transgressions. One of the things I love about this forum is its ability to focus on quality and construction over marketing with only seldom brand and marketing bias.

Also, on a more personal level, I have a penchant for propriety and would hate to be guilty of similar inaccuracies merely because of my inability to properly express myself. From what I have seen of the forum thus far, I believe I am not alone in the desire for that which is appropriate and correct.


Arg
 

chobochobo

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and my Bruno Magli's announce themselves as 'Handmade in Italy', but I wouldn't put much importance on that...
 

A Harris

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What about hand-lasting? I assume that with mass-produced, machine-made shoes, the upper is fit around the last by machine too.
Hand lasting is very very rare, even among companies who sell shoes that are handmade by the definition proffered above.
 

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