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Sole protectors

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by stylememerry, Dec 4, 2012.

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  1. stylememerry

    stylememerry Member

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    I work at nordstrom selling shoes in Michigan. I use to work at an independent shoe store in Chicago, for leather soled shoes and boots for everyday usually I recommend getting a rubber sole protector put on the shoe. I know some people find it sacrelgious to do that and others are are fans. I just wanted you opiouns on the subject. FYI I am a 25 year old chick with an
    Intrest in men's wear so I don't really wear the same shoes. Please forgive my grammar I am
    Using a iPhone
     
  2. aravenel

    aravenel Senior member

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    There are quite a few very contentious threads about the use of sole protectors or Topys. Do a quick search, I'm sure youll have plenty to read :)
     
  3. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    I wouldn't advise it as a matter of course if I were you, the shoes are made to be worn without them, but I wouldn't see the harm in letting people know that it's an option.
     
  4. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    I'm not really aware of any controversy - I use them on most of my shoes, as it extends the useful life of the sole significantly.

    If there's a downside, it has escaped my attention over several years and several pairs.
     
  5. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    You don't get the feel of a leather sole, which many people (myself included) like. Some people argue that the shoe breathes better. Besides which, a leather sole lasts long enough (and high quality leather soles much longer), and can be replaced without too much trouble.

    To me, they're like those plastic furniture covers. Yeah, they extend the life, but they neuter the item you're trying to protect.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  6. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    I don't find a big difference in feel at ll. Except noticeably better grip in wet conditions with the outsoles, where leather can be slippery.

    I'm not sure how much breathing is really done through the sole as compared with the upper - but I can't say I've noticed any difference in this regard between otherwise comparable pairs that have had outsoles applied and those left bare.

    And I really don't see any equivalence with plastic furniture covers. We are talking about the bottom of the soles here - neither a part of the shoe that is generally in visual prominence, nor one with which we frequentlly come into tactile contact.
     
  7. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    I quite definitely feel the difference between a leather sole and a rubber sole- how the shoe interacts with the ground on every step, how a scuffed in leather sole retains its grip when you want it to, but you can pirouette when you want to- there's a reason ballroom dancers don't wear rubber soles. In general, it's a very different feel than rubber, which compresses around things rather than spreading the force out over the entire sole. I can't speak to how much of the rubber effects you get when you topy a leather sole, but I do know that you lose the entire feel of how a leather sole grips and feels as you walk. You couldn't not lose that, and in fact, for many, losing that feel is the entire point. Generally those people are (unjustly, IMO) afraid of slipping and falling, not realizing that the slipperiness of a new leather sole is moderated a lot once it's scuffed up a bit.
     
  8. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    1) I don't pirouettte.

    2) Were I ballroom dancing, I probably would not use rubber outsoles. Sometimes, slippery is good. But how well a shoe - or sole- performs when ballroom dancing is not a major purchase criterion for me. It isn't a criterion at all.

    3) Wet leather doesn't grip - scuffed or not. It's not a fear of falling, but a practical consideration for those who live in climates where the sun doesn't shine 365 days a year. My daily commute invloves ascending and descending several flights of marble / stone stairs at railway stations. When it rains, steps and flooring alike can be quite slippery. Losing one's footing with a crush of commuters in front and behind can be both unpleasant and unhealthy. A poor tradeoff for the ability to turn a dainty pirouette - at least for me.

    4) I have shoes with leather soles and those with rubber outsoles. I don't perceive I have lost anything in "feel", much less an 'entirety'. Since it appears from your post that you have never tried a synthetic outsole, what is the basis of your categorical assertion that there is an 'entire' loss of feel?

    5) What do you imagine the rubber is compresing around? Whether I'm walking on cement, asphalt, marble, hardwood or carpet - it's generally a flat surface. I find the notion that a rubber sole is somehow failing to distribute force over its surface area, well, curious.
     
  9. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    1. You should try it.

    2. The issue isn't whether you can go ballroom dancing or not- the issue is that it's an entirely different feel.

    3. Depends on how you walk. I've never had much difficulty with wet leather soles, though most of my leather soled shoes have rubber heels, which allows some increased grip when I need it. But the biggest slip I've ever had (nearly brained myself on a concrete step after stepping onto a patch of ice) was with a rubber sole. In similar conditions, I was just fine in leather soles. It's not a be all and end all.

    4. I have plenty of shoes with rubber outsoles, in a variety of sole styles. In most cases, I can feel the difference in how they grip and slide. Perhaps you're just not very perceptive?

    5. A pebble, or those little warning bump things at crosswalks, a crack in the sidewalk- there's plenty of stuff that's not flat in the world, even for a city dweller. And rubber compresses much more than leather, that's just the nature of the material, and it does affect how they feel and distribute (or don't distribute) loads.
     
  10. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior member

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    I agree that leather soles feel different than rubber, and I like that feel. Of course, this is purely personal preference, so no point in debating.

    I also don't believe that any "breathing" takes place through the sole, but I do find the few shoes I have with rubber sole protectors are hotter, which I attribute to an insulating effect. My experience has leather much more slippery than rubber on smooth floors, even when dry. One gets used to it, but definitely more sure-footed on rubber. Adding sole protectors apparently extends the life of soles greatly. The cobblers who post here have suggested that by replacing sole protectors when needed one may never have to resole shoes.

    I take an intermediate approach suggested by Crownship. I add rubberized anti slip tape to my leather soles. I hope to get the longevity benefits of sole protectors at a lower price and without the insulating effects of conventional protectors. So far, so good, but way too soon to tell. To a significant extent, this is a hobby activity, so I value my time at zero, although it takes about 20 minutes to do a pair. The costs of materials is a bit under $2 per pair, while my cobbler charges $50 per pair to apply sole protectors.

    I suspect the sole protectors are sturdier than the tape, but my shoes live pretty pampered lives, so I don't know how much it matters.

    I don't like the look of the black or very dark brown rubber sole protectors, but my cobbler says he is reluctant to use other colors on mens shoes. He says the durable, thicker, protectors appropriate for mens shoes doe not come in other colors. The anti slip tape is gray.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  11. qtlaw

    qtlaw Active Member

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    I just brought a pair of shoes that I installed Topys on to get them removed. They feel different than my leather soled shoes and I want to get back to that. I've had Topys on two pairs for about 3 years and wish I never put them on.
     
  12. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    It depends on how you walk? Ooooo kay then. I guess I have lacked adequate instruction on the proper method of walking in leather soles. My loss.

    I can understand a preference for unprotected leather soles. I don't really get the hostility towards those with a different preference, though. Plastic furniture covers? Well, I said I wasn't aware of the controversy. Now I am.

    dbhdnhdbh - my cobbler charges $28 all in - and yes, replacing the outsoles is quick (drop off on my way into the office, pickup at lunch) and vastly extends the life of the soles. In fact, I have never had to replace the leather soles on shoes where I installed rubber outsoles when new.
     
  13. tgt465

    tgt465 Senior member

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    Differences in walking gait are due to people having different shaped feet, different body weight and different mass distribution around the body. A 300 pound linebacker will walk differently than a 120 pound toothpick. It's a matter of physics, not of instruction.
     
  14. stylememerry

    stylememerry Member

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    Thanks for you input. I usually tell people all their options I find for frye type boots light sole protector is worth it but I could see how a pair of itailain dress shoes might be best with out and it could affect the overal desgin. I have a pair of handmade Spanish boots based on a men's boot by p. Monjo that came with a sole protector on it, the feel amazing because he used a textured rubber I bet it is natural vs synthetic. I just love hearing people's opinions.
     
  15. stylememerry

    stylememerry Member

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    I think what I love best about this thread so far is it demonstrates how personal shoes are for people. I am currently the womens shoe dept but have sold men's shoes before and frankly prefer men's. Women talk about shoes more and buy more. But it is a different relationship they tend to not have shoes for 30. Years like men. Men tend to take better care of there shoes. Women's pumps put us on a pedestal while for men shoes take you were you want to go. It is funny when I tell men I work in shoes they ether say " Im I guy " inplying thar they don't care or they tell me about there favorite pair.
     
  16. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Well sure - but the suggestion that the manner in which one walks may significantly contribute to the degree of grip offered by wet leather outsoles (as compared with rubber outsoles) is a little hard to swallow. Right up there with the suggestion that the thin subber outsole - adhered to a thick leather sole, mind you - will somehow shift to conform to irregularities in the surface and not evenly distribute weight. Some here seem fully invested in establishing that there is simply no rational justification for the choice of rubber outsoles - and they are prepared to go to quite irrational lengths to do so.

    Regardless of gait, rubber outsoles will offer better grip on wet surfaces.

    Odd that rubber or part rubber heels are acceptable, while outsoles are anathema (to some). It seems to me that the heel is playing quite a subtantial role in the whole walking process (my heels certaiinly wear faster than soles, yours?), yet use of rubber there doesn't entirely ruin the experience and transform an otherwise quality shoe into the tacky equivalent of plastic covered furniture.
     
  17. aravenel

    aravenel Senior member

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    Like I said, very contentious topic :)
     
  18. coolarrow

    coolarrow Senior member

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    Would like to see a separate post on this, with pix.
     
  19. mercretas

    mercretas Well-Known Member

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    I have Topys on a few pairs of shoes and I feel that it stiffens the sole to a small but noticeable degree. It's not substantial but I notice it and would prefer more flex. My compromise has been to have my cobbler put in inset toe taps because I tend to wear down the front edge dramatically faster than the rest of the show. That and a good shoe rotation has served me well so far.
     
  20. tgt465

    tgt465 Senior member

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