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

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

  1. chogall

    chogall Distinguished Member

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    Just a shoe nerds whom happen to know a few sourcers and visited some manufacturers.

    I have no skin in this game aside from buying a few shoes. Neither am I a caterpillar owning many pairs of shoes.
     


  2. chogall

    chogall Distinguished Member

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    Shoji did an article on old UK bespoke styles on the Last Magazine. In which he showed smoother/less gap transition between the upper and the welt.

    Maybe that's what Marco means.
     


  3. marcodalondra

    marcodalondra Distinguished Member

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    I have been collecting pictures of Tuczek shoes and boots for few years (centiped, Japanese collections, French collection, and every time one pair pops up on eBay) .Most of their shoes had a deeped front connecting straight to the welt/sole, but not only for chiselled shaped, even round and pointing last's had this feature. Also the proportion and spacing on full brogues were almost perfect in my view. I am using those pictures as a sample of future commission .
     


  4. chogall

    chogall Distinguished Member

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    Same, but I've only seen worn shoes. The thing is, I am not sure if that deepened front connecting straight to the welt is due to wear or intended feature.

    One of my old SC shoes (almost decade old) has its front welt touching the upper leaving little gap.

    Either way, its definitely a difficult feature to be implemented.
     


  5. Whirling

    Whirling Senior Member

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    Imagine I wanted to buy myself a pair of very fine bespoke shoes or boots. Then imagine that there were several who all seemed to produce shoes that I found to be in aesthetically pleasing styles/patterns. Imagine that I didn't know much about the reputations of the makers and didn't have anybody I could ask whom I trusted completely. How could I, as a non-expert, examine samples of the maker's work and determine whether they were of equal quality, or whether one was better or worse? What questions would I ask to make sure that I had found a maker who would ensure the final product fit my feet as well as possible?

    Or, is it the case that I, as a non-expert, should really only rely on reputation because I will never be able to tell the differences in quality and likely final fit with any reliability?
     


  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Do you have photos?
     


  7. Testudo_Aubreii

    Testudo_Aubreii Senior Member

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    I'm sorry to harp on this, but it is NOT "incredibly inegalitarian" to say that less expensive methods are of lower quality. That is just calling a spade a spade. No judgments are being made about people's relative worth or deservingness of equal standing. Fact and value are inter-related, but this is taking the inter-relation too far.
     


  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I'd say you just need to talk to the maker. Ask to see shoes in progress or, in extremis, photos of various operations. Having bespoke shoes made entails a relationship with the maker.

    Yes, there is an element of risk in buying a pair of bespoke shoes...just as there is in buying RTW shoes, or a bespoke suit, just as there is in life in general. Relying on reputation will reduce that risk somewhat...sometimes. But reputation is fungible too...you'll pay more, IOW.

    Bottom line, risk can always be ameliorated by getting to know the maker and judging his character and his authenticity and his openness. Just as IRL and getting to know anyone, the better you are at judging character, the better your chances of finding a bespoke maker that will satisfy you.

    All that said, knowing something about techniques and materials helps (maybe this forum and this thread helps). Don't just talk to one maker talk to several. Don't just visit factories and expect to learn anything of significance about bespoke work....unless of course you're looking for factory made shoes or a deeper effort is too much bother.

    The better prepared you are, the better you'll be able to make a cogent decision.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016


  9. Nick V.

    Nick V. Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

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    You sir are a riot!

    It was your suggestion that in order to get rid of some of the b.s. that we we sort of qualify ourselves by saying something like "in my professional opinion". Or "from my professional experience".....To which I replied that I thought it was a great idea and I was on board doing it. Now I do it and you come up with this nonsense. You can't have it both ways. However in your perverted way it seems that you are above all and CAN and are ENTITLED to have it both ways.Then you tell us that you don't want to police this thread. I'm sure you don't realize it but it's obvious to most that you do it all of the time.

    You have spent years trying to convince people that since I don't do the work my experience is invalid. I'm in the business over 40 years and my experience is invalid in DW's world. Well the notion of that is illogical, blind sighted, and just plain stupid.

    There are lots of things that I learned from you. Thanks. There are several things that from my professional experience (that's right I said it again, and I'll continue to do so) I couldn't disagree more.

    I'm still waiting for just one person to come forward and tell us how flush mounted toe plates caused the inseam stitch to fail. Even causing the welt to fail. I'm still looking for a shoe that suffered a premature demise because sole guards were applied thereby causing the leather to suffocate because it can't breathe. I'm still waiting for an onslaught of high-grades showing up in the shop with gemming failure. All things that would lead some to think the sky is falling. All things that are totally and, completely inaccurate.

    I would venture to say that I see more high-grades in one week than you do in a year. Yet you know everything and my experience doesn't count. I know nothing....
    Sounds like snake-oil salesman stuff to me. You have a lot to share I just wish you weren't so insecure. It makes you look bad.

    I don't know why you have this bone to pick with me but, that's you're problem not mine. I sincerely hope you get over it.
     


  10. shoefan

    shoefan Senior Member

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    That is not what I said was inegalitarian; but, I agree, that statement (that less expensive methods are of lower quality) is not inegalitarian, it is simply, demonstrably false in plenty of cases. Many times yes, that relationship holds, but certainly not always, which is what DW claims and a view you perhaps share. DW makes that assertion all the time; now, after being given examples that disprove that assertion, he is limiting it, either to 'traditional crafts' or shoemaking. But even then, I think you could find examples that disprove his thesis, at least as it applies to traditional crafts. I believe you could find counter-examples in shoemaking as well, but I imagine we would end up debating what embodies the 'factory mentality,' e.g. does specialization count (I believe DW's prior words would say yes, that is the factory mentality).

    Furthermore, and the gist of my comment, if you go back and read the entire exchange, DW dismisses the notion of cost/benefit as simply a justification for cheapening a product; to him, that is tautological -- the concept of cost/benefit tradeoff is (and I quote) "nothing but a justification for lower quality". That is what I find inegalitarian (and that is the comment that I responded to as inegalitarian, not the basic, and inarguable, concept that different products can have different levels of quality) -- he dismisses the consumer's ability to discern anything for himself, in essence it is DW's way or the highway (because, if anyone disagrees with DW they have, in his words, bought into the 'factory mentality' and 'have flies in their eyes').

    Of course there are different levels of quality, and I never have said all shoes are equivalent; hell, I make handmade shoes, love them, and revere the work of the craftsmen in the trade. So, don't you think I know there are different levels of quality? Asserting that various products are of different quality is not inegalitarian, I know that and I never wrote that.

    But (implicitly) asserting that DW knows best, that anyone who disagrees with him (in this context) has bought into a lie (has flies in his eyes) is inegalitarian. Furthermore, DW seems to convey a belief that a true craftsman never thinks about cost/benefit (Job One and all that), but of course he (and every other person in the world, including master craftsmen) makes cost/benefit decisions all the time, including in his craft -- does he hand sew his uppers, notwithstanding his contention that that is a better method? So, has he bought into the factory mentality? I find his logic in that area flawed and his point of view inegalitarian.

    One other comment which has occurred to me: DW says that the factory mentality has led to lower quality footwear. But, what is his definition of quality? It is rooted in the products that started out being handmade, because back in the day there was no alternative. Plus, as he points out, the handmade shoes evolved over hundreds of years; factory production is only say 150 years old. So, shouldn't we wait a few hundred more years before we conclude that factory production always leads to a lower quality shoe? Furthermore, is a hand welted shoe truly a higher quality shoe than a lightweight, form fitting, injection-molded, gore-tex uppered Nike? I guess it depends on the criteria you apply. Of course, if the criteria you apply are based on the standards from 150 years ago, the handmade shoe is superior. But, are those the proper criteria, or merely a result of a flawed approach to developing the criteria?
     


  11. chogall

    chogall Distinguished Member

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    Visit at least once before placing orders. Ask questions about their process. Ask questions about their pedigree. And then ask more questions about their process.

    Specifically, how your feet will be measured, how do they do fitting, what leather/last choices you have, what adjustments do they do after the shoes are finished and delivered, etc.

    You should be able to know the guy well enough to know if he is trustworthy enough.

    Bespoke is a process.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016


  12. chogall

    chogall Distinguished Member

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    FYI, some manufacturers hire bespoke makers as consultants so they could learn lastmaking, process, and techniques.
     


  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    What in the world are you talking about? The post you quoted wasn't about you...even if you think was. Not everything is about you. Or "against" you.

    That said your professional opinion doesn't mean squat to me...simply because the only professional opinion that you can legitimately claim is a professional opinion about managing. Being a boss.

    I'll say it again...you don't do shoe repair. Nor do you make shoes. You don't have a professional opinion to offer on something you don't do. No one does.

    Your experience managing is valid. Your experience in any field of endeavour that you don't do, is not!

    In point of fact, shoemaking is my "profession." Managing is yours. Not shoe repair.

    Because...you...don't...do...it!!
     


  14. Nick V.

    Nick V. Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

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    You know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. Most do as well. Don't fool yourself. I quoted a response to a wrong comment.
    Please forgive me Grand High Mystic Ruler. Please spare me my life.
    Since you brought it up in many cases your professional opinion doesn't mean squat to me either simply because it's wrong and very misleading.
    My professional experience tells me that.....
     


  15. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Fundamentally, what you asking is "what is the definition of quality?" and I say that if you have a handwelted shoe, in front of yo, made to the highest standards of the Trade and a GY welted shoe made to the highest standards of the Industry and you cannot see that the HW shoe is better-made, across the board, then the only possible reason you cannot is that you are accepting a definition of quality that justifies all the compromises and expediencies that the factory embraces.

    Anyone can look at examples of work from 150 years ago and examples from today and see the differences. Demonstrable differences. Objective differences. And those differences boil down to two distinct perspectives. You are perfectly free to decide which is better or higher quality but in deciding, you reveal what your own standards are. You reveal which definitions of quality, which "mentality"--factory or Traditional / artisanal / mindful / perhaps even objective and demonstrable-- you embrace.

    All the self-congratulatory excuses for accepting or embracing factory standards, such as those associated with "value for the money," etc., as any kind of definition of quality, are just that--excuses.

    "Value for the money" has significance...maybe even absolutely. But so does "quality." And they do not partake of, nor share the same sensibilities. Dumbing down the definition of "quality" is presumably very "egalitarian" esp in today's socio-political environment. But it doesn't change the fact it is dumbing it down. Words have meanings and I, personally, do not feel compelled to change them nor do I see any reason to make up my own meanings.

    Why shouldn't we wait another 100 years? Because by that time factory standards...regardless of the objective quality...will be be the only standards. Simply because people buy into those justifications and excuses. And because today...not 100 years from now...is when those definitions of quality get accepted or rejected.

    As for the "flies in the eyes" bit, I thought you might have read Heller or at least understood that it is not a question of disagreeing with me or not, it is a question of whether a person has the experience and background...and willingness to learn...to see and accept what others see and have seen by engagement and involvement and "doing." .

    I don't impose my views on anyone here or elsewhere. I am not knocking at your door. Or collaring you on the street. Those who come here (voluntarily, every one) with no experience (but often with ulterior motives...or so it seems to me) to tell me that my 45 years experience...doing it...are not valid, do so with no legitimate justification.

    It is not my highway, it is only my professional opinion based on many years of doing it full time. Not as a hobby, not as a groupie, not as a boss. And of thinking about it...full time...and about what it all means. Maybe that's worth something. Maybe it even helps people make their decisions and "discern" for themselves. Regardless, it's certainly different...diametrically opposite, IMO...to what a lot of my detractors bring to the table.

    But bottom line it's still just an opinion. If someone feels pressure to believe there is some worth and wisdom in what I propose, perhaps it is because "truth" often has a certain authenticity about it that speculation and rationalization do not.

    We can have these intellectual discussions till the cows come home but it doesn't mean anything if we are oblivious and indifferent to the actual work, demonstrable results and objective facts. it's just hot air and speculation / fantasy until the relative strengths and weaknesses are compared. That's the trap of intellectual discussions--they are just a game unless we touch ground regularly.

    Your assertion that "you could find examples that disprove his thesis, at least as it applies to traditional crafts" is speculation and nothing else, esp. in the absence of concrete examples.

    If there are examples, show me (show me an example in the shoemaking world)--I'm from Missouri.

    --
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016


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