Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..."

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by DWFII, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I got to thinking about this (the bolded statement) and while I don't disagree in any significant way, I think there is another consideration--namely that almost every thread on SF is essentially about condescension or elitism. IMO. It's just hidden and implied rather than blunt or straight-forward.

    I once observed a number of regulars here diss another member because his pants were too short...in their omniscient and wisdom-of-the-ages opinion. It certainly wasn't in the spirit of education...to the contrary, it was nothing short, as you so correctly point out, of trolling and judging someone for their choices.

    Nor is that unusual. The post, in another thread, that prompted my remarks here in this thread devolved into name calling and vitriol for no apparent reason except to pass judgement on someone else for their choice.

    The reverence for brands and the associated devotion of their various acolytes, is itself a form of elitism. It almost borders on the ridiculous in the way in which people obsess over trivialities such as last numbers without really knowing...or wishing to know...anything objective about fit. It's a form of religion....a cult, as you point out.

    And that's only the tip of the iceberg.

    You say you have a check list...I think almost everyone does. But what is on that checklist? And what boxes take priority?

    Most people on this forum would reject a handwelted shoe that didn't have a recognizable name and / or following, regardless of their checklist. Fewer still would go out of their way to deliberately look for unknown bespoke shoemakers even if price and fit were their top priority boxes and the unknown maker could offer satisfaction on all counts. Instead they would choose to buy the cachet brand.

    If that weren't true we wouldn't have so many altars to worship at here...in the form of threads dedicated to one maker or the other.

    After all, how can you impress anyone saying you have a pair of shoes made by Joe Cognomen in Wartrace, Tennessee? Even if they fit like gloves, look like a million dollars and cost less than a thousand? Not gonna happen.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2015
  2. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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    These are all good points as well, and I suppose it's why I don't participate in the forum like I use to. I am finding less corners with new information, and too much of everything else you described.

    I have thoughts on the cachet vs craftsman topic, but I will reflect on it some more as well...
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  3. hitemup

    hitemup Active Member

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  4. diadem

    diadem Senior member

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    For $25k, they damn well better be. [​IMG]

    I'm surprised someone hasn't answered this already, but I did some quick Googling and the short answer is it depends on where you buy from. I'm strictly speaking from an American perspective. G&G's are sold in the USA by Leffot and their prices range from $1,100 to $1,600 depending on the model. If you search overseas, you can buy from places like Bespoke England (a little over the £700 mark, which comes out to roughly $1,100 by current exchange rates) and Skoaktiebolaget (similarly priced to BE when converted to USD). I know G&G makes shoes for other brands, like Ralph Lauren Purple Label, and you can often get those shoes for less than G&G-branded shoes (RLPL G&G shoes are around $900, but I don't know if they're made to the same standards as G&G's own shoes).

    Edward Green shoes are sold by Brooks Brothers and Mr. Porter and they retail for around the same as what G&G's retail for. I see $1,300 on average from US retailers. Skoaktiebolaget sells them for less due to favorable exchange rates (prices start at $890).

    Lobbs of Paris is much the same story as G&G. Shoes selling through Lobbs' own e-store start at around $1,300 with some models going up to $1,700+.

    For those sorts of prices, I can name several hand-welted alternatives that I would rather have, but I can't deny that these GYW brands have a much higher profile and are much more readily accessible. For some people, that's worth a certain dollar amount.
     
  5. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I'm not so sure... but of course the point is that there isn't a tenth that price in materials or labour...even if they are handwelted.

    And perhaps more to the point is that I don't believe that any GYW shoe is worth more than half the cost of the highest price ones you mention. I know leather prices and I know what it takes in terms of work to make a shoe. I have a pretty good idea, as well, how much savings there is in buying...even premier leathers...in freight car quantities / bulk rather than one to ten skins at a time.

    [That said--fundamental rule of business: The fair market value of something is what people will pay for it. If someone will pay $25K for a pair of boots, they are, by definition, worth that. And if another person will pay approaching $2k for a shoe that is not significantly different in materials or construction than a shoe costing $400.00...well, PT Barnum said it best.]

    We can extoll G&G all day long...and rightfully so....and compare it to Allen Edwards...which doesn't get much love here...but there isn't $600.00 worth of difference in materials top to bottom, heel to toe, much less construction techniques. Which, BTW, is the focus of this discussion....

    Artistry? well, that's another thing. But real artistry is never the offspring of machines...you have to look elsewhere for that.

    All that said, handwelted bespoke shoes and shoemakers can be found throughout the US at or below the $1k mark. They are out there and not so long ago, I was one of them.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2015
  6. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    For $1mm you can sure buy a lot of bespoke shoes... Made by U.S. makers nevertheless...
     
  7. hitemup

    hitemup Active Member

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  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Not true...$1k=$1,000.00 USD. $1M would be one million.
     
  9. hitemup

    hitemup Active Member

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    Ahh, SF in action. I asked about all the secret bespoke makers in the US and am only told I am wrong on an acronym that the fortune 100 corporation I am employed by uses regularly. Good job on throwing dollars to those poor artisans.
     
  10. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Which region? U.S. is a big country. There's one in Seattle, a couple in Oregan, a few in Oregan, plenty of boot makers in the Midwest and South. And some in East coast.
     
  11. Zapasman

    Zapasman Senior member

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    [​IMG]

    Hi DW, I inserted this pic in the Vass thread but I got not unswer from my question: That is the grey/black material between the upper and the lining?. It looks to me like felt?. What is it for?. Thanks in advance.
     
  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    We have a lot of people on SF for whom English is not their native tongue. My mistake...I thought this was simply a case of unfamiliarity with the language. I thought to help. I have never heard $1M used in lieu of one thousand.

    That said, as far as I can tell it is not as a common usage as you imply ...at least not according to anything I can find searching the 'Net. I searched for "$1K definition" and $1M definition" (in case you wish a second, third, fourth...twenty-fifth...etc., opinion).

    Here is a link to a discussion that explains the discrepancy.

    As for the shoemakers, a quick check of my profile will reveal that I am and have been a bespoke shoe and bootmaker for over 40 years (semi-retired). I also am on the board of directors for a shoemaking guild--The Honourable Cordwainers' Company--a non-profit 501 c-3 organization modeled after the early English Guilds; and the webmaster / forum administrator for the Crispin Colloquy-- an Internet discussion forum for bespoke shoe and bootmakers sponsored by the HCC.

    Despite all that, even I don't know every bespoke shoemaker in the US or even in Oregon, although I did mention several makers in a previous post. I don't think there is a list anywhere in any context. Which is typical of craftsmen everywhere--they tend eschew publicity and advertising and the hype of public relations and let their work speak for itself.

    Which, in turn, means you have to put out some effort yourself...kind of like looking at profiles or doing searches on the 'net. :tinfoil:

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2015
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Hard to say--it's a photo with all the inadequacies of a photo. But, that said, I would guess it is fabric rather than felt (although it could be felt, I guess). Sometimes some makers will add a layer of fabric between the upper and the lining to stabilize the upper leather and prevent or minimize stretch. I don't do it so I can't really speak to the reasons or rationales but it is, IMO, "no harm, no foul...except that it suggests that the upper leather wasn't very good to begin with.
     
  14. hitemup

    hitemup Active Member

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    @chogall

    I'm in MN but travel to the PNW multiple times per year and throughout the midwest.

    I would want someone that can make hand welted sleek bal chisel toe shoes with a last design similar to the EG 888 Also bal boots.

    Who do you know that can accompdate it? Thanks!
     
  15. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Off the top of my head, our own @DWFII, Paul Roman, Craig Corvin are based in OR, OR, WA. Shouldn't be hard to message the first and Google the rest.

    Bespoke is a process and proper communication is key. Also, the shape of your last will be limited by the shape of your feet.

    Talk to them and look at their sample shoes.

    Otherwise, if you want EG888, just go buy it. It's not your last. Bespoke is having your own last, which will never be EG888.

    My bespoke G&G's shape is nowhere close to RTW G&G for your reference. Neither is my bespoke JLP. Because they are built on *my* last, not some standardized scaled RTW last.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2015

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