Shoe questions

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mack, Jan 11, 2004.

  1. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    Here's a question regarding the definition of the "fiddle back waist." There are two design elements one can see in looking at the pictures you linked. One is the narrowness of the waist of the sole (which is associated with how closely the stitching of the sole is to the body of the upper). The other is the actual shape/profile of the sole in front of the heel. My interpretation of the term "fiddle back waist" has as much or more to do with the latter than the former. If you look at the picture, the Green sole actually has a curved/convex sole in the instep/waist area, whereas the Cleverley does not appear to. [If one looks at the Lobb RTW with the "bootmaker sole," they also feature the curved/convex sole profile. As do most cowboy boots.] So, is the definition of a "fiddle back waist" only to do with how much the sole is cut in/narrowed at the waist, or is it the profile of the sole, or both?

    If one looks at the back of a "fiddle" or violin, it features both of these characteristics -- there is obviously the outline/shape of the fiddle, when viewed head on, but there is also a distinct outward curvature of the back when viewed in profile (i.e. the back of the fiddle is not flat but has a distinct curve/outward bulge/convexity to it).

    By the way, I recall in 1995, Green had two level of quality they were offering. The higher-end shoes had the convex sole that I describe above; I think they were priced about 100 - 150 pounds or so above the regular Green line. They also had a different inside lining, all black in a different grade of leather than the regular line (at least in shoes with a black upper), and I think the two-tone soles, which I don't think the regular line featured at that time. This was after the sale of their factory to Lobb, but perhaps they were still using the old facility and the shoemakers who now do the Lobb bootmaker soles. The folks at Green say their shoes now have incorporated many of the features that were in the higher end line of that time.

    When you compare the two models, what are the notable differences? Is the waist narrower today or in the old shoe?
     
  2. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I believe "fiddle back waist" refers to the both elements seen on a violin, the nipped in waist as well as the convex curve of the underside. Here is one (admittedly very extreme) example from Jason Amesbury: http://www.amesbury.co.uk/bespoke/en/style5.html It is quite possible that at one time Edward Green produced different levels of quality, but that was at a time when I thought of Church's as the top brand. I believe I got my first EG shoes 1999, well into the "new Green" period. Comparing the "old" (tan sole) with the "new" (bi-color) pair, although the width is more or less the same (65 mm), the new ones have more curvature. If you lay a straight edge on the highest point, on the old shoes it curves about 1mm down, on the new ones about 5 mm. The waist is one of the holy grails of bespoke English shoes and most other makers do not pay a great deal of attention to the waist. (The Italians look for ways to embellish the welt.) Ultimately I think it is not really important; Scarlet O'Hara might have received compliments on her exquisite waist, but did ever someone notice the waist of your shoes?
     
  3. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I think that it's largely an optical illusion. I've seen Cleverley bespoke shoes in person, and I own Edward Green shoes; the convexity of the Cleverley waist is significantly greater than the convexity of the EG waist. The JL shoes with the beveled bootmaker sole are somewhere in between the two.
     
  4. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Believe it or not, I once thought the same thing about Florsheim. O, the humiliation.
    Like you, I've begun my Edward Green habit relatively recently, and I've never seen old Greens in person, just on Jun Kuwana's Cobbler site. Do all of the ready-made EGs come with the half-black sole? My EG collection is currently three pairs, one ready-made and two special orders (including the long-awaited Dovers in Edwardian Antique on the 808 last, which arrived today and which exceed expectations -- a difficult thing to do given the nine month wait). The ready-made pair has the half-black sole, but the special orders do not. I know for a fact that I didn't specify anything about the sole treatment for the special orders, so I don't know how to account for the difference.
    Well, I have, and that's enough for me. I asked the Cleverley representative why they did the fiddle-back waist, and he said that it was strictly for aesthetics. That it's not functional doesn't bother me a bit.
     
  5. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I'm pleased to hear your Dovers have arrived, live up to expectations and hopefully you didn't have to pay too much (accounting for the decline in the Dollar). I have a pair of Dover, same color, similar last (606) and I can tell you, they do get noticed. You probably have never received more compliments about your shoes than you will get with these Dovers.

    Unless you specified something different, Dover comes with double leather soles. Most dress shoes come with single leather soles. In his current specifications Edward Green finishes single leather soles in half-black (welted breast to breast) while double soles are all tan (welted all-round). Double soles also have considerably less curvature in the waist than single soles. I suppose that is technically not possible with double soles. Are the other special order shoes single or double soles?

    Another difference between old and new Green is the color of the lining. "Old" shoes are lined uniformly in pale tan and have the size etc. written straight onto the leather, while "new" shoes have an oval window for the details and have the back part lined in a shade to correspond with the color of the shoe, while the front part is lined in pale tan.
     
  6. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Fortunately, I paid the price quoted 9 months ago, which was significantly less than it would be if I ordered today.

    They're the Canterbury model, single soles.
     
  7. naturlaut

    naturlaut Senior member

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    For those who had done Weston custom, does it offer fittings, or even a try-on like Berluti?  And at what price range?

    I have reservations about not having fittings like Lobb London.  At least Lobb Paris offers one fitting, and it's about the same price as Lobb London.  Having no fittings kind of diminished the whole idea of custom.
     
  8. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Originally posted by naturlaut:
    As far as I know, Weston only offers Made to Order. You choose the style, last, leather, type of sole, etc. Usually costs 20% (not including exotic leathers) more than the standard shoe.
     
  9. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    A couple of years ago, Weston was offering a bespoke service using a computerized scanning system to measure ones feet. My understanding is that this service has been discontinued. I don't know if they are offering traditional bespoke, but I presume not.
     
  10. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    That is my understanding, as well. Here's another one of those Japanese shoe porn sites with a feature about Weston's service, which was called the Prestige Club.
     
  11. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Senior member

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    All of that effort for some black cap balmorals?
     
  12. naturlaut

    naturlaut Senior member

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    Ever seen custom Lattanzi sandals?
     
  13. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Yeah, but they're nice black cap-toe bals, and he did also order a pair in cognac.
     
  14. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Just out of curiosity, how much would such things run?
     
  15. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The shoes arrived today, and I have to say that they're even nicer than the pictures would indicate. I hadn't thought that Weston could make an elegant shoe, but this one is most certainly elegant. They don't close the channel on the sole as nicely as EG or John Lobb Paris, but I can get over that.

    My thanks to T4phage for the recommendation.
     

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