shoe construction...behind the veil

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

  1. eljimberino

    eljimberino Senior member

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    Going to throw my hat in the ring here even though I'm going against what has been said previously.

    I'm fairly new to 'leather shoes' so I write this seeking knowledge at the risk of sounding stupid.
    But in the long run I figure the knowledge will hold me in good stead.

    My concern is to the soles and their longevity and their ability to breathe and how those factors interact.

    On a pair of single soled leather shoes I received (which the retailer said were 'hard wearing') the toes
    started wearing to the point where the closed stitching was exposed after only three wears.
    In these parts the road aggregate reflects low property taxes. Imagine fitting your thumb
    between each rock. This, combined with my gate, accelerates the wearing of the toe tips.
    Now imagine it is raining and how a leather sole would fair in this environment.


    My guess is if I kept wearing the shoes I'd only get approximately thirty or so wears out of them before
    the soles needed replacing. Please don't tell me I walk wrong. I usually go for a 1000km hike
    once a year that usually takes up to eight weeks. I am willing to accept however that the way I walk
    is not conducive to the way leather soles should be walked in. Unselfconsciously, my toes must grip
    with each step for balance and propulsion. Perhaps this is a reflection of having worn rubber soles
    shoes most of my life?


    Further, most rubber soled shoes are shaped upwards at the tip whereas most of the leather soled shoes I've seen
    have a sharp edge. This sharp edge bears the brunt of the abrasion.

    Until such time as I alter my walking style, to limit the wear on what I consider the low durability
    if the single leather sole, I have sought the properties of rubber. My alternatives are thus:


    1) Wear the leather soles and have them replaced on a frequent basis. For arguments sake
    let's say twice a year including postage to and from the manufacturer. I would not trust anyone
    where I live.


    2) Have them topied. Replace the topy frequently.

    3) Buy rubber soled shoes. Have them replaced when they wear out.

    4) Have metal toe tips installed.

    I am open to any of those alternatives. Some of the above posts suggest that alternative number 1 is the
    correct way of wearing leather shoes. This may be true, but is neither economical, not practical, in my case.


    Option number four is the next best thing to option number one. I am not sure where options
    two and three sit in the preference hierarchy.


    For the moment, in the context of sole durability, I am willing to favour a rubber sole in lieu
    of the shoes ability to breathe through a leather sole.



    How much is the shoe breathing through the fully lined inner sole in any case?

    How much does the shoes inability to breathe through the rubber sole effect the longevity of the overall
    shoe?


    Let's say I can only wear leather soles - what would be my best course of action?
     
  2. RIDER

    RIDER Senior member

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    Very nice.....as I've said before DW, you've always done impressive Wellingtons - especially how you balance the pattern around the cone.

    As for the continuing conversation re: the insoles, interesting to note the varying weights in the constructions mentioned:

    DW's handwelted work = 5-5.5mm (9/10 iron if I read that correctly)

    Blake = 2.5-3mm

    [​IMG]

    Rapid = 3.5-4mm

    [​IMG]

    C&J welted = 4mm (compressed to 2mm at the ball as the insole has formed on this pair)

    side note: this is one of the only welts I've cut up where the cork hadn't displaced under the ball...good on C&J

    [​IMG]

    Norvegese = 7mm

    [​IMG]


    It also occurs to me that it would be unfair to assume that every factory using a different construction method would always use the same weight insoles (or any materials, for that matter).
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
  3. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Let's start out with a basic...if are going to discount breathability (as in your third to last sentence) or if it doesn't mean anything to you then a whole world of possibilities open up to you. As well as a plethora of opportunities to save lots of money. Crocs for instance.

    I can recognize that not everyone will value techniques or quality materials the way I do. Everyone has their own priorities and those who couch their remarks according to those priorities seem more rational and objective to me than those who pretend to heights they have no resources or desire to scale.

    Myself, I have zero ambition to analyze or extol the virtues of expedients. Or expedience, either one.

    If you purchase a shoe based on the manufacturers assurances that the soles are "hard wearing," you're falling prey to hype and sales pitches. Like a carnival barker...everything is blown out of proportion and almost nothing will meet your revved up expectations. You make yourself into a "mark."

    The salesman has no way to know if the soles will be hard wearing or not. Compared to what?! Only the manufacturer can know that and only if he sits down and does a comparison of various outsole leathers....AND decides to purchase and cut based on tannage, density and and quality rather than cost.

    Will rubber outsole outwear leather outsoles? Yes they will (even though, if done correctly rubber outsoles will not be "turned up at the tip"--there is/should be no difference in the way the materials are handled or trimmed), rubber is not as vulnerable to abrasion as leather is.

    Can you save money by replacing your leather outsoles with rubber or using a soleguard. Certainly. You can save money...in the long run...by buying cheap plastic shoes with heat injected rubber soles and simply throwing them away when holes appear. If saving money is your objective.

    What do you buy an expensive leather shoe for? What is the difference between a Walmart special and even a $400.00 leather shoe? In terms of construction techniques, not always a lot. So what's left?

    Whatever it is, why take a shoe you spent hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars on and convert it to something that looks like an import special?

    Every form of refuge has a price. If you buy a Mercedes you should expect to spend more time and more energy and more money on maintaining it than if you buy an Isuzu.

    What's wrong with Topying a shoe? What's wrong with metal toe plates? Nothing...if that's your perspective.

    But then it literally begs the question: Why not put elbow patches on your Anderson and Sheppard?

    That's my opinion...take it for what it's worth.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I got to looking back at previous invoices...when I order insole shoulder I am usually ordering 10-11 iron. What's that in mm? When I honcho'd the first group buy from Baker most of us ordered bull shoulders and some of that was 12 iron.

    That said, I do have a sole splitter.

    I still use Baker but getting anything heavier than 9 iron seems to be near-as-nevermind impossible.
     
  5. RIDER

    RIDER Senior member

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    5.5-6mm....more or less. 11 iron = 5.8 to be exact. Of course, it doesn't come exact, for those reading from the outside.

    Also, your weights - even when listed the same - will probably be heavier than mine, since you get direct to be split, and we have sent to the sole/insole maker for pre-cutting. Depending on how you set it up, yours could even be thicker than above....ours vary, but not much.
     
  6. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Ounce MM Iron %Inch Decimal Inch
    1 0.4 0.75 1/64 0.016
    2 0.8 1.5 1/32 0.031
    3 1.2 2.25 3/64 0.047
    4 1.6 3 1/16 0.063
    5 2 3.75 5/64 0.0 78
    6 2.4 4.5 3/32 0.094
    7 2.8 5.25 7/64 0.109
    8 3.2 6 1/8 0.125
    9 3.6 6.75 9/64 0.141
    10 4 7.5 5/32 0.156
    11 4.4 8.25 11/64 0.172
    12 4.8 9 3/16 0.188
     
  7. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Who's that Norvegese from?

    JM Weston uses 5mm insoles from their own tannery in Annonay for their GY/Norwegian welted shoes, gemming reinforced leather flap. That is about the same thickness vs. hand sewn welted insoles.

    EDIT: for clarity
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
  8. RIDER

    RIDER Senior member

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    me.........rather, Sassetti for Rider Boot Co.
     
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    That's because Weston carves the insole in a similar (but not identical) fashion to handwelted. As I've said repeatedly, to do anything remotely resembling handwelted you need substance, long fibers, and high quality... simply because the insole is a critically integral and unequivocally important part of the inseam and the shoe. HW is nearly unique in that...other methods make the insole almost superfluous.

    To no good end, IMO.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
  10. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    What I meant was its about the same thickness as hand welted insoles. Not the same construction method.
     
  11. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Some stats that might be of interests:

    EG/G&G/JL insole thickness: ~4mm
    JM Weston insole thickness: ~5mm
    EG/G&G gemming height: ~5mm
     
  12. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Rough, coarse pavement will chew up wet leather soles in a hurry. Particularly single leather soles. Metal toe taps will comprehensively solve the problem of accelerated wear at the toe (I have them on nearly all my leather-soled shoes) but will not assist with the rapid wear that will be the inevitable consequence of foul weather wear over rough surfaces.

    Consider option #5 - Dainite - VASTLY more wear resistant than leather and generally far better suited to foul weather wear.
     
  13. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    The other things to note for leather soles are:

    1) quality does matter. Baker and JR lasts longer. Nick said there's no difference between different JR stamps.

    2) leather soles will wear 'fast' initially but after it settles after a few wears, the wear will slow down dramatically.

    3) metal toe tips does prolong the life of leather sole shoes.
     
  14. diadem

    diadem Senior member

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    As you break your shoes in, the wear at the toe will lessen to the point that it will wear at the same rate as the rest of the outsole. Also, just because the outsole stitching will start to show doesn't mean you need to immediately have the soles replaced. There are plenty of shoes made where the soles are stitched aloft -- the outsole stitching is exposed (see: Allen Edmonds, C&J Benchgrade, etc.). For a pair of GYW shoes, you basically don't need to replace the soles until you reach the cork and for HW shoes...I honestly don't know as the 2 pairs of HW shoes I have are too new for me to really care about that enough to read up on it just yet [​IMG] (and one of those pairs, some Vass oxfords, have double leather soles, so those will last a while...). I'm sure DW and others can give you an answer for that.

    Anyway, here is DW's reasoning against metal toe taps. Makes sense to me and I don't think I will be getting them on any future shoe purchases, especially since some makers are charging upwards of 50 USD/EUR/GBP to have them installed.

    Also, I believe a compromise that was mentioned before was just getting a bunch of nails hammered into the sole near the toe.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
  15. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    As with any top quality, luxury item you really need to be aware of what you have and how it is faring in life. When I see/feel the outsole on a HW shoe getting thin (and you can feel it)...usually dead center in the joint area of the forepart...I'll recommend resoling. If the forepart is filled with cork or felt and you're keeping a weather eye on the shoes--brushing them, polishing them, treeing them, etc.--you'll see when a hole develops. Cork is usually immediately fugitive in such circumstances (if it hasn't fled already) and you run the risk of wearing into and damaging the insole. Felt might show but the hole is the key--resole just before (ideally) or immediately, after one develops.


    Thanks for reminding me of that post.


    +1

    Screws have a different effect on the leather when they are being driven than do nails...a more destructive effect. I think a series of brass nails...like many makers use on leather heels and like some Japanese makers I seen do at the toe...is the better solution. The more rational solution.

    And the quieter, more self-assured solution.

    Not a "compromise" at all.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015

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