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RM Williams Boots - Everything You Wanted to Know

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Sator, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. moonman

    moonman Well-Known Member

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    I have a pair of the Yearling Craftsmen.

    Can anyone tell me why it is OK to have a 1/4" wide embossed stripe down the midline of these shoes (from toe to the front of the leg) which appears to created by the tool they use to stretch out the leather?

    This and a couple of other characteristics of the boot have lead me to the conclusion that they are not particularly well crafted.

    Why are these boots held in such high regard on this site? My C&J Chelseas put these things to shame in terms of quality of leather and construction (and, imho, are the equal in terms of style .)
     


  2. Grayland

    Grayland Senior member

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    Tidybeard,
    Those photos are very helpful. Thanks for posting them. I really have a burning desire for a pair of RM Williams. I think I'm going with the Comfort Craftsman as I live in upstate NY, but I'm real concerned about the fit and will probably take a day trip into NYC to check them out in person.

    BTW, after reading every post in "Everything you wanted to know about RM Williams"; I'm as confused as ever. Interesting reading, but it really doesn't help at all.
     


  3. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    I have a pair of the Yearling Craftsmen.

    Can anyone tell me why it is OK to have a 1/4" wide embossed stripe down the midline of these shoes (from toe to the front of the leg) which appears to created by the tool they use to stretch out the leather?

    This and a couple of other characteristics of the boot have lead me to the conclusion that they are not particularly well crafted.

    Why are these boots held in such high regard on this site? My C&J Chelseas put these things to shame in terms of quality of leather and construction (and, imho, are the equal in terms of style .)


    From the first page of this thread:
    One of the most authorative books every written on men's shoes is "Alles über Herrenschuhe" by Helge Sternke:


    http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/3894...305401-6924534

    In this monumental book twice the size of Flusser's Dressing the Man, Sternke writes (my translation):

    Whoever takes a look at the boots on offer will discover two different vamp constructions. The usual boots will have underneath the elastic inserts, a vertical seam, whereas the finer and costlier models come without this additional vamp seam, because the vamp is made of only a single piece of leather. Only a few remaining traditional makers offer such boots - and mostly then only on special enquiry. One of the few which still carry them in their regular catalogue is the Australian firm RM Williams, who usually leave the shaft unlined. The one piece shaft has a clear long ridge running down the front of the boot resulting out of the time consuming process of blocking the shaft, during which the form of the shaft is pre-formed before it is stitched - an additional step which certainly adds to the cost of the boot but permits a decidedly better final form over the upper and assures a better fit. Without the blocking step the leather crumples on walking and the resulting rolls of leather press on the foot (Quoted from page 242)

    The ridge running down the front of the boot is only apparent when it is brand new and disappears with wear. Far from being a defect, it is proof that RM Williams uses an old fashioned high end manufacturing technique usually found in bespoke boots:


    The weight of authority would suggest your "conclusion" is mistaken. It's a somewhat different aesthetic from your C&J chelseas (which many of us also like). Certainly if you prefer the C&J that's what you should go with. Personally, I'm quite fond of both the comfort and the look of my RMW, which have a bit more of a true "working boot" aesthetic. But both are well-made, so obviously personal preference should be the deciding factor. (The C&J's likely will run you a bit more, although I consider them to be in roughly the same economic ballpark.)
     


  4. Tidybeard

    Tidybeard Senior member

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    Tidybeard,
    Those photos are very helpful. Thanks for posting them. I really have a burning desire for a pair of RM Williams. I think I'm going with the Comfort Craftsman as I live in upstate NY, but I'm real concerned about the fit and will probably take a day trip into NYC to check them out in person.

    BTW, after reading every post in "Everything you wanted to know about RM Williams"; I'm as confused as ever. Interesting reading, but it really doesn't help at all.


    You're welcome. The one thing I have learned about these boots is that it is really, really important to try on the actual style and size you think you need.

    They are great boots, though. Happy hunting!
     


  5. Mugnut

    Mugnut Member

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    Drat. that's the one thing that's almost impossble for me to do.

    Can anyone identify this model. it's a craftsman, but almost looks liek Vesta leather over a leather sole:

    http://www.skomakerdagestad.no/Dages...2-DSCN1418.GIF
     


  6. moonman

    moonman Well-Known Member

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    From the first page of this thread:
    One of the most authorative books every written on men's shoes is "Alles über Herrenschuhe" by Helge Sternke:


    http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/3894...305401-6924534

    In this monumental book twice the size of Flusser's Dressing the Man, Sternke writes (my translation):

    Whoever takes a look at the boots on offer will discover two different vamp constructions. The usual boots will have underneath the elastic inserts, a vertical seam, whereas the finer and costlier models come without this additional vamp seam, because the vamp is made of only a single piece of leather. Only a few remaining traditional makers offer such boots - and mostly then only on special enquiry. One of the few which still carry them in their regular catalogue is the Australian firm RM Williams, who usually leave the shaft unlined. The one piece shaft has a clear long ridge running down the front of the boot resulting out of the time consuming process of blocking the shaft, during which the form of the shaft is pre-formed before it is stitched - an additional step which certainly adds to the cost of the boot but permits a decidedly better final form over the upper and assures a better fit. Without the blocking step the leather crumples on walking and the resulting rolls of leather press on the foot (Quoted from page 242)

    The ridge running down the front of the boot is only apparent when it is brand new and disappears with wear. Far from being a defect, it is proof that RM Williams uses an old fashioned high end manufacturing technique usually found in bespoke boots:


    The weight of authority would suggest your "conclusion" is mistaken. It's a somewhat different aesthetic from your C&J chelseas (which many of us also like). Certainly if you prefer the C&J that's what you should go with. Personally, I'm quite fond of both the comfort and the look of my RMW, which have a bit more of a true "working boot" aesthetic. But both are well-made, so obviously personal preference should be the deciding factor. (The C&J's likely will run you a bit more, although I consider them to be in roughly the same economic ballpark.)


    With all due respect to Herr Sternke, I am going to disagree that this is a desirable feature. If you found this "feature" in any other shoe, I suspect that it would be roundly declared as a defect.

    The line of which I speak isn't going to disappear with wear. A portion of it is on top of the toe box and isn't going anywhere, ever. The tenting associated with the line certainly disappears with time, but whatever device they use to create this artifact actually appears to emboss the leather slightly. I will be very surprised if this isn't a permanent feature of the shoe.

    EG, Lobb, C&J and every other high end shoemaker I am aware of today seems to be able to make a very beautiful boot without embossing a line running down the center of their beautiful leather.

    I like the shape of the RM Williams boot reasonably well. The leather isn't as good as in other high end boots (at least the Yearling), but I knew that going in. The fact that it is a wholecut doesn't seem to make the boot better in any functional way I can discern. Bottom line is that I think they are fine enough boots, but I don't see them as being even vaguely competetive with the high end manufacturers in terms of quality, wholecut or not.

    Just my 2 cents worth. YMMV. Trying to inject a bit of common sense into what seems to me to be a potential case of mass delusion.
     


  7. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    With all due respect to Herr Sternke, I am going to disagree that this is a desirable feature. If you found this "feature" in any other shoe, I suspect that it would be roundly declared as a defect.

    The line of which I speak isn't going to disappear with wear. A portion of it is on top of the toe box and isn't going anywhere, ever. The tenting associated with the line certainly disappears with time, but whatever device they use to create this artifact actually appears to emboss the leather slightly. I will be very surprised if this isn't a permanent feature of the shoe.

    EG, Lobb, C&J and every other high end shoemaker I am aware of today seems to be able to make a very beautiful boot without embossing a line running down the center of their beautiful leather.

    I like the shape of the RM Williams boot reasonably well. The leather isn't as good as in other high end boots (at least the Yearling), but I knew that going in. The fact that it is a wholecut doesn't seem to make the boot better in any functional way I can discern. Bottom line is that I think they are fine enough boots, but I don't see them as being even vaguely competetive with the high end manufacturers in terms of quality, wholecut or not.

    Just my 2 cents worth. YMMV. Trying to inject a bit of common sense into what seems to me to be a potential case of mass delusion.


    Ok, to each his own. My RMW's have seen a good deal of wear, and I'm quite happy with the quality of construction. I'm pretty confident that's not because I'm the victim of mass delusion. [​IMG] I personally like the visible artifact of the manufacturing process but can see how other might not. It's also possible to make dress shoes without visually prominent stitching, but I like the visible stitching on some of my shoes as well. It's not a "defect" or a sign of inferior construction, just a stylistic choice.
     


  8. moonman

    moonman Well-Known Member

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    Ok, to each his own. My RMW's have seen a good deal of wear, and I'm quite happy with the quality of construction. I'm pretty confident that's not because I'm the victim of mass delusion. [​IMG] I personally like the visible artifact of the manufacturing process but can see how other might not. It's also possible to make dress shoes without visually prominent stitching, but I like the visible stitching on some of my shoes as well. It's not a "defect" or a sign of inferior construction, just a stylistic choice.

    Fair enough.

    Do you have any other shoes with this "stylistic choice" ? [​IMG]
     


  9. jml90

    jml90 Senior member

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    Is the comfort craftman available at voucher price from Nungar?
     


  10. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    Fair enough.

    Do you have any other shoes with this "stylistic choice" ? [​IMG]


    Not that particular one, although I also don't own any other wholecut boots. I do have shoes where either "subdermal" or surface stitching is visible for stylistic reasons.
     


  11. moonman

    moonman Well-Known Member

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    Not that particular one, although I also don't own any other wholecut boots. I do have shoes where either "subdermal" or surface stitching is visible for stylistic reasons.

    I can see that. But shoes with those kinds of stylistic fillips are made with specific intent and extra effort is applied to add those features.

    I guess I don't see the stylistic appeal of the stripe on the Williams boots. And I guess that I am not fully convinced that it is a "choice" rather than an incidental byproduct of the particular manufacturing method that they use.

    Call me crazy.
     


  12. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    I can see that. But shoes with those kinds of stylistic fillips are made with specific intent and extra effort is applied to add those features.

    I guess I don't see the stylistic appeal of the stripe on the Williams boots. And I guess that I am not fully convinced that it is a "choice" rather than an incidental byproduct of the particular manufacturing method that they use.

    Call me crazy.


    No, I think you're right about that. I didn't mean they went out of their way to make it evident when it otherwise wouldn't be. I just mean that as a boot that is intended either to actually be or at least appear somewhere closer to the more "utilitarian" end of the scale than to the "dress" end of the scale (at least as compared, say, to most Lobb or EG boots) there's likely a conscious choice that the overall aesthetic doesn't "require" that it be hidden. I own plenty of smooth, high-polish shoes and enjoy the more "basic" look this provides as a visible artifact of the creation process.
     


  13. well-kept

    well-kept Senior member

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    Do you have any other shoes with this "stylistic choice" ? [​IMG]


    Edward Green's Newmarket chelsea boots have it. My old C&J/Peal chukkas have it. My Alden shell chukkas have it. And my RM Williams have it. (My Sargent/Peals do NOT have it) and so I believe it is indeed a mark of conscientious craftsmanship. The Williams boots are first rate in my view - on par with much more expensive models.
     


  14. moonman

    moonman Well-Known Member

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    Edward Green's Newmarket chelsea boots have it. My old C&J/Peal chukkas have it. My Alden shell chukkas have it. And my RM Williams have it. (My Sargent/Peals do NOT have it) and so I believe it is indeed a mark of conscientious craftsmanship. The Williams boots are first rate in my view - on par with much more expensive models.

    My C&J chukkas and chelseas don't. I don't own an EG Newmarket, but I have seen lots of pics of them and they don't have it. Neither to the Lobbs. All of them have a "ridge" down the midline of the boot when new, but none of them have an embossed stripe in the leather. Once worn a few times there is no evidence of anything in the leather where the ridge was located when new. The Williams is different. The "ridge" goes away just like it does in the other boots, but the "stripe" remains. Take a look at the pics above. The one with all three boots in row. All three of them have the stripe in plain view.

    The Yearling leather on the Williams is, more or less by definition, inferior to the box calf employed by other high end shoemakers.

    I'm not saying that the Williams don't have their charm, but I have seen folks on this site tout them as being the equal, if not superior, to all of the above models, which I find somewhat astounding.
     


  15. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    My C&J chukkas and chelseas don't. I don't own an EG Newmarket, but I have seen lots of pics of them and they don't have it. Neither to the Lobbs. All of them have a "ridge" down the midline of the boot when new, but none of them have an embossed stripe in the leather. Once worn a few times there is no evidence of anything in the leather where the ridge was located when new.

    The Yearling leather on the Williams is, more or less by definition, inferior to the box calf employed by other high end shoemakers.

    I'm not saying that the Williams don't have their charm, but I have seen folks on this site tout them as being the equal, if not superior, to all of the above models, which I find somewhat astounding.


    Obviously, the answer is to go the aportnoy route and have all your bases covered.
     


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