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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    @shoefan

    BTW and point of clarification...I am not complaining about you disagreeing with me. I am not doing the "shoefan says this" or the "shoefan asserts that" bit. I am not characterizing or complaining about your disagreeing with me. Simply because I believe that you have every legitimate right to disagree with me and I respect your disagreement. I respect it because I know it is legitimate--you've been in the trenches.

    What I complain about is all the REMF'ing Corporal Uppham types (Saving Private Ryan) who come here to piously lecture everyone about "the bonds of brotherhood that develop between men in combat" and the book they are writing about it while sitting in relative comfort drinking the co-colas and eating the candy bars that never get to the guys at the front...in the trenches.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016


  2. rbhan12

    rbhan12 Senior member

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    I'm pretty sure DWF, chogall, and Nick V come to SF mostly to bicker with one another.
     


  3. ntempleman

    ntempleman Senior member

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    That's not really an aesthetic feature exclusive to any house style, it's down to how you prepare the insole, the stiffeners and attach the welt. The making of any Tuczek shoe you'll see pictures of online will pretty standard from any firm at that time - mainly because the outworkers used were making for other firms too.

    There's a little bit more done in house today, patterns cut by a house cutter etc and some exclusive workers for some firms, but the real difference you can expect from one company to another is the last. In fact, It's not impossible for a customer to go to three different firms and end up with the same closer and maker for all three pairs, probably even more so back then, than it is now.
     
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  4. marcodalondra

    marcodalondra Senior member

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    When @FosterandSon started interacting on this forum promised to post a full Tuczek catalogue to be compared to their own to demonstrate how the style was common to other maker, so I do understand what @ntempleman is saying. My pictures are all stored onto my Laptop HDD, however I have quickly googled some to briefly demonstrate what I was saying about Japanese maker and Tuczek aesthetic:

    Connection to the front welt (Tuczek)
    [​IMG]

    Tuczek shoe:
    [​IMG]

    Marques:
    [​IMG]

    Not only the general last shape and mounting of the welt, but look at the proportion, facing, etc...
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016


  5. VRaivio

    VRaivio Senior member

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    While we're chatting Tuczek, I'd like to mention that I've gathered dozens of photos as well. They can be found from my site's archives with the obvious search term.
     


  6. ntempleman

    ntempleman Senior member

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    I love a spot of archiving myself, I've had a rummage through the vaults and dug up a toe from a Tuczek sample

    [​IMG]

    As well as some Brand X samples from roughly the same era

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Along with a practice shoe I've played around with, trying to be less awful at my job - I thought it might be quite good to show because there's no ink and wax on it to fill the gap, just welt and upper

    [​IMG]

    Shoji's work is supreme, one of the many I look up to in both admiration and aspiration. I don't know him personally but one of his makers is a dear friend, and also supremely talented. That sample has a similar chisel toe to the Tuczek above it, but they're quite different - the front on the Tuczek is much much shorter, as was the typical style of the day. Makes a big difference.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016


  7. j-mac

    j-mac Member

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    After much thought I have decided to add my few pennies worth about this.
    I am an 'outworker' who makes shoes for some West End firms,I trained at John Lobb,St James's and my teacher 'Morris' worked for Tuczek before Lobb took them over.Nick Templeman is correct in that many of the firms used the same makers and the last styles varied from shop to shop.Different firms also specialized in types ot work ,Tuczek were known for men's dress shoes,Maxwell for riding boots, Joseph Box for ladies work etc.They would make other styles but the specialization made their work just that bit better.Not all Tuczek shoes were sleek chiselled beasts they had to work to the foot and you can find pictures on the web of less elegant Tuczek shoes however the making is very good.
    Many of the japanese makers are great fans of Tuczek and Anthony Cleverley as these were seen as the top in their day.
    Some of the A. Cleverley and Tuczek work I have seen is indeed beautifully made.
     


  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I suppose I should ignore this but if you wanted it ignored you wouldn't have posted it would you? So the question is: do you come here just to snipe?

    I answer questions here with substantive information and reasoned explanations. Almost every post.

    Go back to page 46 in this thread--there are lots of my posts on that page and I'm not bickering with anyone. Then chogal jumps in on page 47 and the stage is set simply because chogal is not offering anything constructive or concrete. He too is just sniping...he has a long history of sniping at me. As does Nick. But neither of them have anything constructive to add to the discussion because neither of them have ever done the work. Nick is a professional supervisor. Chogal is a professional factory visitor. Yet both think their personal...not professional...opinions outweigh mine.

    Maybe they do. It seems that for some they surely do. And that's fine but I disagree.
     


  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Yes, I thought that's what was being talked about. I agree with you...FWIW (hope I don't make you a target). Personally, professionally, I am not fond of that "gap." I try to avoid it, it's clumsy technique and breaks up the aesthetics of the shoe.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016


  10. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Thank you. That's what I was looking for. I was going to post something along the lines of what ntempleman said in response to the assertion that it is "definitely a difficult feature to be implemented" (for whom?) but I wanted to be sure. Make sure I wasn't just "bickering" or blowing smoke.

    I like that look myself. I won't lay claim to anything near the finesse of the Tuczek work and esp. the shoe you posted, but the mechanics are pretty straight forward...if you're a shoemaker.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016


  11. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    I agree with much of what you have written above. A couple of clarifications, though, for I think you mischaracterize my position. I never said 'value for money' is synonymous with quality, nor would I. And, of course we're just talking about opinions; my use of the 'my way or the highway' was rhetorical and alludes to the what sometimes seem the out of hand rejection of alternative views.

    So, one follow up. What comprises the 'factory mentality?' Does specialization of the trade into last making, closing, making, etc. comprise the 'factory mentality?' IIRC, you seem to have either said this or suggested this in the past (excepting the last making part, which has 'always' been a separate trade... what does 'always' mean, and why did that come about -- because of a 'factory mentality'?). Or, does subsequent grouping of those folks under one roof, with specialization? Or does the introduction of a machine (the sewing machine) into that group of folks who sit under one roof? Or is the introduction of a superior (the owner, or some other manager) who is not currently doing any of the work? Or the notion that someone is thinking about how to increase the efficiency of production? Or the demise of the guild system, so the organization doesn't have to employ folks certified by some external organization? etc, etc. Honestly, I can't refute your general assertion if I don't know how you define the 'factory mentality.' If the definition is: they've done some things reflective of a cost/quality tradeoff decision to save money with an impact on quality, then you are asking me to disprove a tautology, which of course is impossible.

    Putting that aside, here are a few possibilities. John Lobb Paris (workers under one roof). Pit-tanned insole leather -- I believe the systematic, organized production of same (e.g. G&FG Bakers) is likely to have had a positive impact on the quality of pit tanned leather. Another -- the factory production of linen thread. Another -- the production of shoemaking tools (Andrew Barnsley).

    Ultimately, I think your point, with which I would agree, is that ignorance on the part of the customer allows the degradation of quality. But, so does a consumer who buys cognizant of the cost/quality tradeoff, but who values the cost savings more than the diminution of quality.

    So, the, imo, natural and perfectly rational instinct for humans to consider both cost and value when spending their (inherently limited) resources can lead to the diminution of quality, as new production methods introduce more efficient (hence lower cost/lower priced) approaches which may also affect the quality of the product. But, it need not, if the consumer values the quality of the traditional product more than the cost savings offered by the newer product.

    Part and parcel of any business transaction is the temptation for the producer (seller) to mislead/misrepresent/hype their product and its purported quality. But, of course, that temptation exists both for the factory and for the individual craftsman, anytime someone is selling anything. Alas, that is human nature. I wouldn't put it down to the sins of factory production or any other specific method of making the product.
     


  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    It's morning here and I've got a bit of time so, I'm going to do something risky and different for me...I'm not going to preview this, I'm just going to jump in.

    You're absolutely correct you never said "value for the money." I apologize if I implied that you did. But others have. So many times that it's now part and parcel of the "dumbing down" of the definition of quality. And, IMO, it's part and parcel of the factory mentality, as well, because it justifies expediency and lower quality.

    Well, to begin with, I think I have said that at least part of this is "personal opinion." I've repeatedly said that while I cannot deny the quality and results of the outworker system, I cannot find the ("a"?) "shoemaker" in it...that it seems to me to be a "deconstructed factory." Are the individual outworkers motivated by a "factory mentality? I don't know. Only they can answer that. But there might be...might be... an overarching perspective there that is borrowed from the factory and as a result the sum may end up being at least different than its parts.

    That said, the 'factory mentality" has less to do with organization than motive--what is Job One? It's not that hard to understand...either you are pursuing quality and excellence or you're pursuing profit. People make all kinds of allusions to this industry or that. I'm not a watchmaker. I'm not an automotive engineer. I'm a shoemaker...and in that context I see the Trade being dumbed down because people embrace definitions of quality and goals that originate and are informed by the factory context.

    And then I look at the way people in general conduct their lives and what values they seem to hold and I ask myself "is it any wonder?" For instance, we all embrace the idea that "time is money." We all embrace convenient definitions of "quality" and "excellence." Egalitarian definitions to be sure but expedient and self-serving nonetheless. We live in a consumer driven society and we all get this stuff in our baby bottles (convenient & expedient, as well).

    I have to stress...because I make this point over and over again and no one seems to want to address it--what is Job One? That's the wellspring of motivation and a critical determiner of what is or isn't "factory mentality." Who is the shoemaker? Who is ultimately responsible? What is good enough?

    And who answers when the complaint box is opened? I mean really...not just soothing words and excuses.

    It is my professional opinion that the Trade would be better served if we only sought our own motives and didn't borrow from the philosophies of profit and expediency and convenience. That's why I say I don't compete with the factories. I don't even compete with you or ntempleman or Janne or Marcel. My motives are aspirational, as hard as that may be to understand...although maybe it's just the time / stage of my life.

    It is my personal opinion that... just in the nature of things...the Industry would be better served if people like me went away and everybody just accepted those dumbed down definitions of quality and forgot Traditional definitions of quality ever existed.

    Well again, I'm not a tanner, not a toolmaker (well, I'm an amateur) I can't speak for those organizations and each human endeavor has its own mandates. But I did say that the factory mentality was pervasive, didn't I?

    Thing is, while I sometimes deplore the results and output...and choices...that characterize factories, it's not the factories themselves that I abhor. It's, again, the motives that drive them. I could be someone (and from what I've seen there are plenty of people out there that fit this description) who makes shoes in my basement...one man...and still be governed by the factory mentality and the motives that inform it. I could be inseaming, by hand, to gemming. I could be using celastic for toe stiffeners and heel stiffeners. I could be using bonded leather. Or leather board insoles.

    I could be ... but I'm not.

    All that's true but come back to earth...the heart of this particular discussion is how to define quality. We all have our priorities but just because I find value in an off-the-rack suit doesn't imbue it with any objective quality. Shine and patina aren't determiners of quality.

    No argument, but the hype and the PR...and the "natural and perfectly rational" laziness of most people...is so pervasive that, as I pointed out, "mediocre" is rapidly becoming the new "best." We are losing, and have lost, so much of the "quality of the traditional product"...even the awareness of it.

    Repeat a lie / misconception / misunderstanding enough times and it goes viral and is all over Facebook.

    Show me, IOW, even 25% of the population (the SF population included) that really and truly values "the quality of the traditional product more than the cost savings offered by the newer product." The emphasis on patina as a determiner of quality speaks volumes about the dumbing down of Traditional standards of quality. Many don't want quality, they want cachet--bragging rights--and are demonstrably unwilling to exert themselves even to look at the objective quality of their favourite pairs of shoes. Hence the efficacy of shine and patina--as bait.

    Well, I would. Simply because the individual craftsman is powerless relative to large, well-funded, organizations driven by stockholder expectations. As a consequence, the individual craftsman has to personally answer for his work. It is a much more open and transparent process (in most cases) and the individual craftsman doesn't have the ability to sway public opinion with slogans and blankets of hype such as "the finest made shoes in all of Christendom." It is human nature and any person or agency can be duplicitous or lazy or mercenary. But when Job One is profit maximization and you're competing with other powerful agencies who have the same goal, no strategy for holding onto market share or increasing profit is off limits. Show me one.

    And that...in my personal opinion...brings out the worst of human nature...most of the time.


    --
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016


  13. Testudo_Aubreii

    Testudo_Aubreii Senior member

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    Sorry, shoefan, but you are changing the elenchus. Here is the exact exchange from upthread in which you accused DWF of asserting an "incredibly inegalitarian" view:

    DWF: "In my personal opinion, no matter how you parse it, "sometimes a lower cost solution delivers lower product quality (e.g. GYW); the question then becomes: how much lower cost vs how much lower quality, i.e. is that trade off a reasonable one? That is a judgement that a company needs to make; they will learn whether they were correct based on the feedback of the market." is still, and nothing but, a justification for lower quality. And one that is rooted in and informed by the 'factory mentality"...by definition."

    Shoefan: But isn't that in incredibly inegalitarian view? I mean, should it be that everyone should either wear hand made/hand welted shoes or go barefoot? Surely in products that are based on traditional skills, you don't buy those made by your analogues exclusively? I mean, do you buy only handwoven clothing (I am sure you could)? Local, farm-grown food? Hand laid paper or parchment? Hand-cut fountain pens? etc. etc.

    You are there saying that DWF's stated view there implies that everyone should either made hand welted shoes or go barefoot. That would be inegalitarian, except that DWF has never said or implied any such thing. He has said numerous times that machine welted shoes are a good option for many. The targets of his critique are the shoehounds who think nothing of dropping 1500 USD on 12 pair of Goodyear Welted shoes made in Northampton factories, but can't seem to find the time or money to buy hand-welted or bespoke shoes. Again, it is the hegemony of Goodyear among fine shoes that is the problem, not its existence or wide availability.

    As for less expensive methods are of lower quality, it's a statistical generalization, not a universal generalization. The existence of counter-examples doesn't refute it. If DWF thinks they do refute it, that's his mistake. And yes, he is mistaken if he really means that cost-benefit analysis ONLY is a justification for cheapening quality. Of course it does more than that. But people don't usually mean it literally when they say that "x ONLY does/achieves Y." They want to draw attention to Y as especially salient among the things that x does.

    Could you explain how thinking that DWF is right is inegalitarian? I've yet to hear an argument for this view. Why is it inegalitarian to say that one method of construction is superior, and others inferior?

     


  14. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Thank you. I applaud your ability to focus and to actually read what others have said. Sincerely.

    A drink with you, sir... "To wives and lovers..."

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    I believe you misunderstand my point. But first, if I write "x ONLY does/achieves Y," I mean that literally. I mean what I write, and, as DW often writes, words have specific meanings. So, I should assume, rather than people mean what they write, that they DON'T mean what they write? And I should somehow know what they actually intended to mean, rather than reading the actual words and the meaning thereof?

    Here is I was responding to: "is still, and nothing but, a justification for lower quality. And one that is rooted in and informed by the 'factory mentality"...by definition." It is that statement I find to be inegalitarian. In my interpretation of the application of that statement, anyone, including a consumer, who uses a cost/benefit analysis when making a purchase, is by definition doing so because they've bought into the factory mentality, since the cost/benefit analysis is rooted in that mentality (as specifically quoted above).

    Parenthetically, I don't understand what your assertion that I am "changing the elenchus" even means; based on my (admittedly limited) googling and research, elenchus refers to a method of (Socratic) discussion and debate designed to point out inconsistency and contradiction of an assertion. Given that it is a defined method, how could I be changing it, and what does that have to do with the topic at hand?
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016


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