shoe construction...behind the veil

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by DWFII, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Sometimes I have to shake my head and wonder...what is it these "younger" folks, with no "preconceptions," want of a leather shoe?!! It's not as if they value any of the salient properties of leather.

    Leather outsoles wear out and have to be replaced. Replace or cover them with rubber! Nevermind that rubber is occlusive and will hold heat and moisture in. Or Insert a great, clumsy, (but attention grabbing!...never forget that) chunk of steel at the wear spots. Nevermind that the best shoemakers and brightest shoemaking minds of countless generations have striven assiduously to come up with solutions that not only preserve the best quality of leather--its ability to "breathe"--but to make it so simple to replace that a child could do it.

    Leather uppers get wet. Slather them with gobs of grease and silicone! Or wax. Anything!! And suddenly corrected grain leather isn't so unthinkable. Nevermind that in order to breath...did I mention that this was one of leather's most salubrious characteristics?...moisture has to be able to go both ways.

    Why the hell do these fellows want leather shoes? Nothing about leather satisfies them...except perhaps the status value.

    So you glom a sheet of particulated cork between the insole and the outsole...how is that done? Magic? If magical thinking prevails, that's the obvious answer.

    But no, it's rubberized cement that holds the cork in place just as it's rubberized cement that holds the particles of cork together. All of which is occlusive and prevents the leather from functioning as anything other than a placeholder for the rubber. At one point wouldn't it just be easier...and more to the liking of these hip, moderne, avant garde types...to just shove some polyurethane in there?

    Or heck, make the whole insole out of polyurethane (oops, that's already being done).

    Leather is too expensive, too inconsistent, too hard to carve, too labour intensive...so slap together a Rube Golberg contraption of canvas and...more...rubberized cement. And tell everybody it''s the "best" and "most traditional" way of making shoes ever.

    I can't think of one aspect of leather shoes that hasn't been dissed and whined about here on SF. And isn't being dismissed as unimportant in the manufacturing, and consumer, consciousness. If I try to put myself in the "headspace" of some of these folks...going solely on what is being said on this forum, mind you...I don't know why any of them would want a leather shoe. Unless it's just another form of ranking. Posturing.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  2. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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  3. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Rubber outsole is a good choice for inclement weather, where leather outsole simply absorbs and pass water into inside of the shoes. Don't know who started the marketing myth of hand welted/GY welted being good water proofing construction, but most of the time water will sip into inside of shoes via leather outsole.

    I don't understand the beef against metal toe taps or heel taps; they greatly prolong the life of shoes for some gaits and especially double or triple leather soles. We are not all cobblers/shoemakers. Having shoes properly resoled isn't an easy task this time and age, with most cobblers just machine stitch over the welt, weakening the integrety of it.

    Sheet cork is used by many traditional bespoke shoemakers and has been around for several hundred years... Might not be the best bottom filler but certainly is traditional...

    p.s., I am in the process of learning how to do full sole resoles and gathering tools for it. Still early in the stages but at least I got a Japanese style skiving knife and is scouring eBay for those cobbler stands, eagle beak clamps, pilers. Any suggestions for an amateur rig?
     
  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    "Traditional." I've had this discussion many times, I've looked up the definition many times. The best, most trusted dictionaries--OED (I once had access to the real thing), Mirriam-Webster, etc.--always define "tradition"...first or second...as a custom that is passed on from one generation to another. And usually within / restricted to a particular cultural group.


    [1] "The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way" Oxford Dictionaries

    [1.1] " A long-established custom or belief that has been passed on from one generation to another" ibid


    I am always amused when people assert that a practice started last year...or even within one lifetime...is suddenly Traditional.

    Again with the dumbing down in pursuit of convenience or self-congratulation/self-justification/self-promotion--it might be habit, it might be ritual, but it's a stretch into sophistry to call it Traditional.

    I would be surprised if the compounds that hold sheet cork together (or their use as such) pre-date WWII.

    Hardly a tradition.
     
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  5. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I have found rubber outsoles to be slippery when wet. I tried dianite and they were useless.
     
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  6. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    I have not much knowledge about the different compounds that holds cork sheets together or the nuances on the wide varieties of cork sheets.

    But is it tradition to using cork sheet? I don't know, I am not a shoe historian so you could shed some light on the issue.

    Is it used by traditional bespoke shoemakers? Yes, its used by John Lobb, Saint Crispins, Vass, etc.

    Since you are so obsessed about tradition, what do you feel about the defection to nylon threads/bristles by traditional shoemakers?
     
  7. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    :lol:

    :bigstar:
     
  8. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    That's exact opposite to my experience. IME Dainite outsoles grips pretty well when wet (rain, not snow). And more importantly, they kept my feet dry while leather soles, single or double, failed me many times.

    Leather sole is just a extremely poor choice for wet weathers and overshoes don't really fit in jacket pocket or fanny packs.
     
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I'm not a Traditionalist except by virtue of the fact that when I try (work, not just speculate) to master Traditional skills and find...often to my surprise...that they in fact, yield a superior result--stronger, longer lasting, possessing of an inherent structural integrity--honour and objectivity demands I acknowledge the fact. And bring as much of that into my own work as is possible.

    I have several pairs of deconstructed West End bespoke shoes from the '30's here in my shop somewhere. Sent to me by my particular friend at CWF. There's no cork to be seen anywhere. They use tarred felt for the forepart filler.

    As for bristles...there is little option. Boar's bristles are extremely hard to get...much of what is harvested goes into paint brushes and as that industry switches to synthetics even those sources are drying up.

    "Do the name Ruby Begonia strike a familiah note?"

    In fact, I near-as-nevermind pioneered, if not invented, a technique for splitting monofilament bristles lengthwise so that they may be used in a manner more like boar's bristles were Traditionally used.

    And at that point no one further away than ten feet could detect any discrepancy from Traditional methods of bristling a taw. Not even other shoemakers.

    And if it makes any difference, once the shoe is made the bristle is macht nichts--it is discarded.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
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  10. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Maybe it has to do with the grime of NYC streets? Who knows, by oak bark's "nap" that forms from walking on pavement provides better traction than rubber, which is like walking on ice. I mean, think about it, it is science. The coefficient of friction is greater between "nappy" leather and concrete than concrete and rubber. Maybe, you're just walking wrong?

    I've also ne ever suffered this "wet feet" due to walking in the rain. Maybe I just don't notice because my feet sweat as it is?
     
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  11. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    +1

    I have spent my whole adult (shoemaking) life walking in rain, snow and ice and have seldom if ever worn anything but leather outsoles. The times I have come closest to falling were when the Vibram rubber toplift on my heels slid out from under me. But that said, I doubt I have outright fallen enough times, in all my adult life, to resort to a second hand for counting.

    But it's a red herring...it doesn't make any difference whether rubber is less slippery or prevents water getting into the shoe. The point is that's it's not leather. The folks wanting rubber outsoles don't want leather. Don't appreciate leather for what it is...warts and all.


    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  12. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Eh, it actually means I am walking better and more balanced since I can don't lose grip w/ less coefficient of friction out soles.

    My feet sweat quite a lot as well, but water DO sips in through leather insole passing through the supposedly occlusive cork layer. Downpours in Asia/SE Asia is quite crazy...
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Most people don't know how to walk. Take a class in ballroom dancing and learn something about balance and where your center of gravity needs to be.


    I hear this BS to the point of despair for people who promulgate it. It's more wishful thinking. Magical thinking.

    Use your mentality. Neoprene cement is rubber. Water does not permeate or pass through rubber. This is simple materials science--analyzing the properties of substances. Cork is not permeable...not in its natural state (except through the visually obvious tubules)...and it's damn sure not permeable when embedded in rubber.

    If that were so and your feet as wet as you say, you'd see moisture...coming from the inside of your shoes...showing up on the outsoles on a dry day. Oh!! That's right you like rubber outsoles...maybe the reason your feet sweat so much.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
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  14. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Explain to me, how did insoles of my leather shoes got soaking wet then, via your simple material science.

    The list includes RM Williams, Saint Crispins, Vass, John Lobb Paris bespoke. First is GY welted cork gum filler and the rest are all hand welted w/ cork sheet filler. Not sure what kind of cements/adhesives were used in them. All have leather outsoles, which got soaking wet and the water/moisture moves to the welt and the insole.

    Or are you talking about how good rubber outsoles kept my feet dry in inclement weathers?
     
  15. bdavro23

    bdavro23 Senior member

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    ^this is honestly exhausting...
     

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