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Sole Welting

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Quarantanove, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Thank you for that Nick. No, really.
     
  2. TheWraith

    TheWraith Senior member

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  3. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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    I'm glad an appropriate thread has been found for everyone's trolling pleasure.

    Personally, i do acknowledge that hand welted is a better construction method than GYW. I do appreciate all your knowledge and willingness to share your experience DW. I have only ever had issues with others that choose to be handwelted elitists, and can't help but make snide comments against GYW shoes at every opportunity.

    Not everyone chooses to drink champagne, that is all I'm trying to say. That's my small comment on the matter...
     
  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    First off there was no argument until certain people came face to face with what they already knew in their guts...what, as I said before, they really didn't want to hear--namely that GY construction is inferior to hand-welted.

    These people don't read other people's posts (because they don't want to hear it) so it comes as no surprise that they don't even read their own (and I have no expectations this post will be read for the purpose of understanding and not just scoring points or seeking leverage, either.)

    But look at the last page (re-read your own comments)...post after post saying some variation of "Yes, handwelted is better than GY." Exactly what I've been saying all along.

    All the rest is just excuses.

    What is the difference in technique between a $100.00 pair GY welted shoes and a $1000.00 pair? In terms of technique...the correct answer and the answer that is being given over and over again right here in this thread is "Nothing!!"

    There. is. no. significant. difference in the techniques used to assemble a $100.00 GY shoe and a $1000.00 GY shoe.

    What is the difference in the quality of materials between a $100.00 GY welted shoe and a $1000.00 GY welted shoe? Very damn little and a whole lot less than $900.00.

    Now what is the difference between a GY welted shoe and a handwelted shoe?

    Goodyear:
    • A significantly less expensive and objectively lower grade of insole material and a good chance that it may not even be leather but leatherboard--the functional equivalent of particle board.
    • A strip / mesh of linen or cotton cemented to that insole to form a prominent ridge through which a chain stitch seam is made for the purpose of connecting the lining, upper and welt. What was, or is, used, by way of wax, to seal the holes and secure the stitch tends to be minimal and/or ineffective for either purpose. Under the best of circumstances this seam is fragile and temporary until the outsole is sewn to the welt. [And BTW, FYI, a chain stitch is one where if one stitch is broken or slipped, all the adjacent stitches are in jeopardy. And eventually the whole seam.]


    Hand welted:
    • An objectively excellent, if not best quality, insole of relatively greater thickness and integrity than is used in GY, attached in a leather-to-leather connection created by a thread that is waxed with antibacterial resins and which will not only fully seal and plug the inseam holes, but lock each stitch in place. All done with a shoemaker's stitch which, by contrast to a chain stitch or even a lock-stitch, effectively prevents significant unraveling of the inseam, even if more than one stitch is broken.

    There is none so deaf they can't even hear their own words... "Everyone and their dog knows that hand welting is the best."

    Yes, we do...you're absolutely correct. No ands, ifs, buts, or other excuses.

    --
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  5. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I appreciate that and I have repeatedly said that I understand that handwelted is not for everyone...not only because of the cost but perhaps also because the issue of quality is beside the point for many... .

    I have not directly raised the issue of GY or gemming in a more than incidental fashion for a long, long time. This thread is a prime example--it was dead a year ago. I did not revive it.

    Here's another--in the Gaziano and Girling thread, page 690 post 10340...a thread where in post #10341 I said:


    That was three days ago. Short attentions spans, apparently.

    Snide is where you find it. And I suspect that in many cases you have to go looking for it.

    But then that's damn near the definition of "trolling," isn't it?

    --
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  6. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    +1. So true. It doesn't take that much consultant time to train/tool factory workers to produce to the spec of top Northampton factories. OEMs don't usually do that because theres no demand/channel for those specs. See: Alfred Sargent. All those additional details like fiddleback waist, closed channel, sunk welt stitching, etc, can be ordered a la carte at different OEMs providing their production flow is flexible enough.

    But I I think you are not incorrect as to the material used; $100 shoes leaving factory uses much lessor materials than $400 shoes leaving factories.

    The skill/learning curve for hand making shoes is very steep. Norwegian stitching is more complex than square waist, norwegian braided stitching is even more complex, and blind welt is just awfully hard to execute. And all those 8+ SPI craziness in welt stitching...
     
  7. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Still not seeing the trolling, but whatevs.

    Agree with much of the rest. That hand welting is a superior construction method is disputed by no-one that I can see. It is the relentless - and completely overblown - condemnation of GYW that needs to be addressed. I thought Nick's post accomplished that brilliantly and conclusively. More input of that kind is sorely needed on this forum, IMO.
     
  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Yes and no. If a shoe has a leather upper, even if it's corrected grain, and a leather lining there's a minimum cost of materials to be dealt with. Leather is leather...it's not plastic or cloth. Yes, some makers use better...even high end leathers such as Annonay or Bakers but, no matter how you cut up a hide for manufacturing, the "stuff"...the good stuff... is not going to be $900.00 more than for the lower priced shoe.

    So we all agree that hand welted is the best. But it's hard for someone like myself--an independent Tradesman, who tries to offer honest value that I am personally responsible for-- to comprehend how any company , large or small, can claim to be making the best shoes...for the most discerning customers when most of what they offer is GY.

    --
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I respect Nick's input but even he admits to have seen a certain percentage of gemming failure. I'd like to see photos of the handwelted shoes he claims are experiencing even moderate inseam failure...failure not associated with extraordinary abuse. Complementary photos to the ones I posted above, IOW.

    But when you think about it, it's not hard to understand the discrepancies between his observations and mine. He lives in an urban environment (which has its own problems). I live in a far more open and "rural" area. I see shoes and boots that are very literally "rode hard and put up wet." That are used. I'm also involved on a very intimate and physical level with the work I do. I'm not just managing a bunch of other people. If there is a problem it comes to me...first.

    And for all of that, I don't see as many welted shoes on the streets as I used to. And I suspect that Nick has seen a drop-off as well. Except for dress, welted shoes (either technique) are not near as common as they used to be. People wear Nikes (and the like) for casual everyday use and reserve their "good" shoes for the office and protected environments. There is proof of that in almost every thread on this forum. Again and again someone has a 20 pair rotation, takes the bus to work, sits all day, and goes home.

    Paper shoes would last 20 years under such circumstances.

    But shoes evolved to do more than that. Shoes evolved to meet all kinds of situations and last for half a lifetime. Shoes evolved to be repaired easily...without having to be re-crafted. Despite spurious and even somewhat questionable anecdotes to the contrary, GY doesn't live up to very many of those promises without extraordinary measures. Why should you have to send your shoes several thousand miles to keep them from distorting and falling apart?

    It should be dead simple to repair a shoe right in your home town by a repairman who is merely competent nevermind highly skilled.

    Again, what GY does do well is produce a shoe that, from a distance, looks like it might be quality.

    For a certain number of people on this forum that's really all that matters. Style versus substance. If we were talking about furniture they'd be defending particle board construction. If we were talking medicine it would be naturopathy. If food, the refrain would be "Yes, a prime rib eye is best but I eat tofu patties all the time and they taste Grr-eat!."

    --
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  10. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Just so we're real clear on what Nick actually said:
    Quote:So, to recap: 1) argument about gemming versus hand-stitched over-rated; 2) incidents of gemming failure (as observed over a staggeringly large sample; broad range of price, and a time period spanning decades) so insignificant that he doesn't even consider it a factor. Makes perfect sense to me. And now added to my "mythbusters" file.
     
    1 person likes this.
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Oh don't do that!-- you'll disappear into your own belly-button. Here again, you don't read...you're obviously not an English speaker even if it's your native tongue. Let Nick speak for himself...you're interpreting and imposing your own wishful thinking. I know your attention span won't bear re-reading his comments but Nick did not say that "incidents of gemming failure were insignificant." You're putting words in his mouth...standard modus operandi for you. What he said was that the number of times they condemned a pair for recrafting was insignificant.... You see the difference? I took Nick's remarks at face value, you parsed his words--adding and subtracting as it suited the fantasy world you live in. Someone's ignorance is showing...again. Recrafting is a major overhaul that requires the shoes be sent back to the original manufacturer. Nick's shop does repair and he obviously thinks they can handle any gemming failure short of a major blowout...which would require recrafting. I never condemned a shoe or boot for recrafting in my entire career. That said I didn't always feel happy with the results that I could achieve without the original last. Most of the time if the shoes were that bad, I just told the customer that the shoes weren't worth repairing. Without the original last that's the only honest thing you can say...or do. But then I'm a shoemaker and the standards are...well, different. [and to forestall the "creative readers"...I don't mean standards of honesty] And it's worth noting that most of the more savvy members of the Forum now automatically send their GY welted shoes back to the manufacturer for recrafting. Wonder why. --
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  12. reidrothchild

    reidrothchild Senior member

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    I really don't understand the hostility to DWF's comments. The guy is a master craftsman who champions the pursuit of excellence. People are acknowledging on the one hand that he's right about the superiority of handwelted shoes but then taking offense at the fact that he's taking us to task for accepting an objectively inferior type of shoe. I've never personally experienced gemming failure with my GY welted shoes, but I fit the mold DWF describes: my "nice" shoes get worn mostly on carpet; the hardest wear they see is less than a mile of sidewalk walking at lunchtime on nice days. I've never experienced failure in cemented shoes I've worn under similar conditions. I have experienced numerous failures in athletic shoes and cemented boots worn hard and in inclement weather. The same can be said about fused suits vs. canvassed suits. There's a barely discernable aesthetic difference (even to "enthusiasts" such as SFers, hence the questionable "pinch" test) and no functional difference. I've never experienced the dreaded bubbling effect on my fused suits, yet I'm not going to defend fusing.

    And I certainly don't buy the argument that hand-welted shoes aren't for everyone because they can't afford it. If I had a dollar for everytime I've seen some variation of "buy better, buy less; quality not quantity, etc.," on this forum, I could afford a collection of handwelted shoes. But then you see that the majority of people on this forum have dozens of GY shoes in their collection, and it becomes clear that cost is not the issue. We simply prefer quantity over quality. I don't own a single pair of handwelted shoes and have no plans to buy any in the near future because my GY shoes are good enough for my purposes, but I'm not kidding myself into thinking that my GY shoes are anything other than that: good enough.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  13. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Oh I'm quite happy to let Nick speak for himself. Particularly since he makes so much sense. It's why I quoted his post in its entirety - I found it to be an exceedingly valuable contribution to the discussion. I hope he posts a whole lot more. Contributions like that are sorely needed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Thank you. Kind words and gratifying. Just to know that there are people out there who use the brains god gave them for something other than carping and quibbling. Not that it's anything special but you get added to my list of people who "get it." Don't have to agree with me...never asked that. Don't have to buy/own hand-welted, never, ever, said that. Just apply a little...a little...objectivity and rationality.

    For the most part when a person buys a shoe, he should be buying because it represents something of value to him--thrift, high quality, whatever. And that's his judgement on the line, I suppose.

    But except for myself (in this conversation) there's no one else that has any responsibility for the quality or the decision shoe manufacturers make. The defensiveness is unwarranted in the context of rationality or logic. You'd think people made those shoes themselves. That's not exactly objective.

    What's more, I repeat and direct people to post #45 on page three of this thread. I didn't revive or initiate this discussion...so it begs the question would these people just rather blunder along blindly, flies in their eyes, than know the alternative? Alternatives that might help them make decisions that they don't have to be defensive about? How can you make a rational choice if you are in denial about any, and every, thing that might bear on that decision?
     
  15. reidrothchild

    reidrothchild Senior member

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    I can't speak for others, but I felt defensive of my shoes, despite not having made them themselves, because I'd been sold a false bill of goods. As laughable as it seems to me now, about 5 years ago, I was convinced by a shoe salesmen at the men's store in my small town that Allen Edmonds was the height of shoe making. At the time, I was wearing square-toed, cemented $30 shoes, so AE represented a ten-fold increase in the amount I was willing to spend on a shoe! A big leap. For me, reading your comments on the subject for the first time a couple years back was like climbing a mountain, only to reach what I thought was the top and find I'd merely made it to base camp. I felt you were diminishing my "accomplishment," when you were really just pointing out that there was still quite a distance between where I was and where I thought I was. Your philosophy is right their in your sig. line and seems like it should be rather uncontroversial to an audience of supposedly discerning iGents.

    I will say, however, that I always enjoy any thread that provokes, for lack of a better term, experts to share their knowledge.
     
    1 person likes this.
  16. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I understand completely. I can't tell you the number of times I've had people here demand that I critique their favourite shoes or their favourite shoe company. I've known from the beginning that that was a fool's game and troll bait, essentially. So I made it a personal policy early on not to criticize any manufacturer and, dern sure, no other bespoke makers.

    In truth, I respect most of the Northampton makers immensely--we share common roots even if, in my opinion they have strayed far...too far, IMO... afield.

    And I can disagree with other bespoke makers and they with me without a shred of ill-feeling among us. Without any significant diminution of respect.

    Unfortunately that doesn't hold true here...where the vast majority who see fit to disagree with me, know almost nothing about shoes other than what they've read in several ongoing, fish-school, group-think love-fests. It's like talking to rabbits there's no common language, and not enough intelligent interest to create a basis for understanding.

    All that said, I don't claim to be the best maker out there. Nor the most talented or even the most knowledgeable. Nevertheless, after 40+ years in the Trade, I stand pretty much within throwing distance of the peak of the Trade as it still exists in this day and age. And having that lofty perspective, seeing what I see with the experience and skill I have come by, I think that there is a lot of misrepresentation in the market and a lot of people who buy into it so completely they can never be objective simply because to be objective is to call their own judgement into question.

    And that's self-deception, nothing less.

    Still and all...when we talk about these things we are talking about the virtues or shortcomings of certain techniques not brands. Nor even really the consumer or the decisions he has made.

    If we can't talk about the pros and cons of techniques, then we might as well just shut up...and if recent history and recent posts are any indication many would like nothing better.

    What's left is just nattering.

    --
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  17. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    I've never accepted this so-called "mold". It's a red herring at best. Assuming that we're talking about dress shoes, I wear them in their intended role. I walk from my car across asphalt pavement and cement sidewalks to catch my morning train. I exit that train and traverse marble tile at the station, and due to present construction, a series of metal staircases as well. I exit the station and commence a 20 min. walk across sidewalks and city streets to my office where carpet and tile await. I wear them out again at lunch and often stroll across the well-kept lawns of a nearby park. Rinse and repeat.

    I wear them in sunshine, and in rain, and across winter sidewalks covered in packed snow and ice. I don't wear them through knee-deep drifts - that would just be stupid. I don't wear them hunting, or hiking or tobogganing or when shoveling my driveway. That would be similarly stupid.

    I wear them as one would wear dress shoes. This is hardly "babying" them or wearing them "very carefully". It is wearing them as they were intended to be worn. The suggestion that, in so doing, I am failing to somehow put my shoes 'to the test' is transparent sophistry elevated to truly comedic levels.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  18. reidrothchild

    reidrothchild Senior member

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    Of course that's their intended use; they're dress shoes afterall. You don't wear them like work boots or sneakers. But under the conditions you describe, which are not much different than what I subject mine to, virtually no shoe--no matter how it is constructed--is going to fall apart. So your point about having never witnessed gemming failure on one of your GY welted shoes is meaningless. It only demonstrates that GY welting is a sufficiently sturdy construction method for your uses. But the same could be said for a cemented shoe. By your logic, why not buy only cemented dress shoes, since that construction method, while inferior to GY, is good enough?
     
  19. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Well what conditions would you expect a dress shoe to be subjected to? How is wearing them as they are intended "babying" them, or "wearing them very carefully"? It's neither of those things. It's just wearing them. I've never experienced welt failure of my hand-welted shoes in these conditions, either.

    And if the shoes aren't going to fall apart when worn as they are intended, why all the overblown doom and gloom prophecy about the deficiencies of GYW? Or put another way, what conditions do you expect a GYW shoe to be exposed to in order to engage the risk (real or imagined) of failure?
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  20. reidrothchild

    reidrothchild Senior member

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    I don't think it's doom and gloom; no one's said blowouts on GY shoes are inevitable, just that there's a higher likelihood than with hand-welted. If a part of the shoe's integrity depends on glue, failure is going to be more likely than one depending on thread. Heck, a colleague's rubber heel cover (glued on) fell right off his shoe just the other day at work. Gemming failure might not always result in the sole falling completely off mid-step, but you have to accept the fact that there is a real possibility that you're walking around in shoes whose innards are coming apart. I'm fine with that, given what I pay for my shoes, but I'm not going to deny it.

    The point is not about pushing the sole attachment to its limit. The point is that we don't prize one form of construction over another solely (pun intended) for it's utility, or else no one could justify the expense of GYW versus cemented. We buy well made dress shoes for the same reason anyone buys a "luxury" item. We appreciate the craftsmanship and work that goes into it. Maybe nobody else can tell the difference, but I can, and it's worth a little extra to me. Will most people use a Ferrari that much differently than a Camry on a daily basis? Is the average person really going to need the 0-60 capabilities and 200 mph max speed? People don't buy Italian sports cars simply because they need to go faster. All that's been said in this thread is that GYW shoes are not the Bugatti of the shoe world. No one is saying you're a bad person for buying a Cadillac or a Chevy. It's just not a Bugatti.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013

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