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Sole Welting

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

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    No problem...I appreciate the kind words.
     
  2. Kuro

    Kuro Senior member

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    If were able to conveniently and economically do so all my shoes would be hand welted... However, as that is not the case is it fair to say that if a pair of GY welted shoes are returned to the manufacturer for a recraft/resole they would likely replace the gemming?
     
  3. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Almost certainly...that's what "re-crafting" (as opposed to simply resoling) is all about. It's also a hook--if you are in Northampton it's a short walk to have your shoes "repaired"/refurbished. But if you are in Kansas, it's big money to send them to England, and a long wait...especially if there's a competent cobbler over in Topeka.

    And many cobblers can deal with gemmed shoes (few would be so arrogant as to try to replace the gemming without the original last, however) as long as the gemming is intact (or mostly intact). Generally speaking, however, only short non-contiguous sections of welt can be replaced without altering the shape of the shoe.

    [Parenthetically, most halfway decent cobblers could replace welt on a HW shoe in their sleep...that's the one of the design paradigms of HW that has evolved over the centuries]

    But resoling a pair of gemmed shoes is not the same as a recraft that replaces insole, gemming, welt and outsole...all with the original last inside the shoe making a return to fit and finish, the default rather than an accident.

    So the hook is...if you invest in a high end pair of RTW shoes, common wisdom says it's not wisest course to entrust them to anyone but the factory. Meaning you're "hooked" for all significant repairs, and/or just to keep them in top shape.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  4. Chanklebury

    Chanklebury Senior member

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    In my opinion, in the case of a resole, then no. The welt will not be replaced nor the gemming necessarily inspected. The outsole will be stripped away, the cork filling replenished, and the replacement sole re-sewn to the welt - through the same original holes in the welt if they are worth their salt.

    As an aside, I'm told that there is an alternative, a midway if you will between the gemming of the rib and hand welting. That is where the welt is machine sewn to the insole using an Economy Insole Channeler. At present, not a single one of the Northants brands makes use of nor possesses the machine. I know, because I asked them.

    As a further aside, disappointingly, none of the Northants brands make use of Baker oak tanned insole leather.

    Yet they still want in the region of £375 or in many cases almost double for their offerings!
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  5. Chanklebury

    Chanklebury Senior member

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    .... just as a complete out there enquiry, does anyone know of a good blake rapid stitched brogue, on a reasonably inflared last with a nice round toe that come in UK G width or equivalent that in anyway resembles a typical English country brogue? E.g. think Trickers Keswick.

    I know, I ask too much [​IMG]
     
  6. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I'd inquire with Ron Rider, a lot of his shoes are Blake/Rapid.
     
  7. Chanklebury

    Chanklebury Senior member

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    Hi Patrick,

    Curiously enough, I have sent him a note. Although looking at his shoes, as much as I admire them, I know my foot would not fit them.

    In my limited experience of some of the Italian made shoes, while they generally do tend to have a gentle inflare to them, the widths are rarely wide enough and the toe boxes too tapered.

    I'm also exclusively after a country brogue - and I need a chunky block of a shoe for my square stocky foot. My other thought was Vass or similar but sadly beyond budget.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  8. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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    Yes, never change it again, please... :fu:
     
  9. Isbister

    Isbister Senior member

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    They're handsome shoes. I'm happy to apologise if my brusque words have offended your sensibilities; however I have not changed my view on the issue. A hand sewn welt may take perhaps half a day of a skilled craftsman's time, for which you must charge. The machine version - barely a minute or so. Not exactly the issue, but unless paying for half a day of your time will bring an appreciable benefit, I don't (indeed literally don't) see the point.

    If my GY welted shoes were falling apart every day/week/month, it would be a problem, but I have several 20-year-old shoes, resoled several times, and this has not happened - and when I have enquired further into the matter, from people who had no particular interest in concealing some awful secret from me, it turned out that was normal, not some flukish run of good luck. Unfortunately, the only pair of hand welted boots I have, the welting failed.

    I do appreciate there are people who, for perfectly good and understandable reasons, prefer to pay an extra few hundred pounds for hand welted shoes, and it's possibly a necessary part of individually crafted shoes, and that's fine, but I don't accept this strange belief that machine welted shoes are in any respect mechanically inferior.
     
  10. Isbister

    Isbister Senior member

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    Thank you for your advice.

    Yes, I was dimly aware that there is some difference between bench-made/factory-made and hand sewn everything.

    Yes, people may prefer 18th century modes of production for various reasons - intrinsically better, more individual, no machines involved, whatever - but they are not a very satisfactory answer, unless you wish 95% of the population to shuffle around in other people's hand-me-downs, so thank God for Goodyear machines I say.
     
  11. Chanklebury

    Chanklebury Senior member

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    I have a pair of Sargents that have seen perhaps a year and a half of fairly daily wear that never actually suited my foot shape nor ever improved in comfort. I'm half tempted to dissect them and really get a look at this.

    Regarding goodyear welting, from a conversation held a while ago with a similar esteemed cordwainer regarding gemming in particular, a basic summary is that gem ribbing comes pre-coated with an adhesive heat activated by the machine on application e.g. on being glued to the insole. The glue itself has a short shelf life so it is of course of significant importance that the gemming be fresh, lest as with stale gemming in factories with low quality control let's say, it has an increased likelihood of becoming unstuck.

    So from this, one hypothesis could be that a factory with a high turnover and long standing reputation - for the sake of argument let's propose Church's - where the gem ribbing is being replenished frequently and the machines operating constantly warm might offer a pretty assured footing.

    It's the price that really bothers me though with GY - I mean we all agree by intention the process was to mechanise what was once done by hand, and facilitate mass production. Yet every year, Trickers go up a £100 and don't get any better - currently standing at £375! - while EG want circa £700 for a pair of RTW, factory shoes. Diminishing returns all on the same base and it pisses me off.

    I still want a pair of Trickers Keswick, mind. And the Church Caldecott was the best boot that I ever had (sighs).
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    So you think that what is fundamentally a cement construction on relatively thinner and objectively inferior insoles is equal to a sewn construction? And that canvas and glue is equal to, as strong as, a leather to leather inseam?

    FWIW, welting is not the inseam. Welting can fail well before its time, regardless of the method of construction, depending on the circumstances and conditions the shoes are exposed to. A less than circumspect cobbler can trim the welt and/or "clean" the welt to where it fails shortly after it has been repaired or absolutely has to be replaced just in order to get another pair of outsoles on.

    And the whole issue of "barely a minute" versus "half a day" only reinforces my point about apologias and excuses--expediency and time and money being the prime directive in every case.

    Like I said, you're not alone...but then objective knowledge is a hard won and dearly paid for commodity. And not everyone is willing to make that investment.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Despite my disdain for the mechanics and the materials (and everything you said about the cement is true) the issue of price is also one of my biggest beefs.

    There is no significant difference in the way GY welting is done in the $200.00 RTW GY shoe and the $1500.00 RTW GY shoe. None. The machines are the same, the coils of gemming meant to be interchangeable regardless of source, the philosophies behind going to GY, identical.

    And beyond that, what bothers me is the pretense. When you have almost every manufacturer in the world touting GY as "as good" or "the best" or even "the finest shoes in Elbonia" that's deceptive advertising. No less. GY welting is marketed to the public as the standard of quality, yet it is all pretense. It is masquerading as HW.

    And the manufacturers do everything in their power to preserve and promulgate that deceptive image.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
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  14. Chanklebury

    Chanklebury Senior member

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    Well my point is really that EG are goodyear welted just as Trickers - not limited of course to Northants, so including Alden, Allen Edmonds, Red Wing etc - so the diminishing returns is in respect to the leather of choice for the uppers and perhaps finishing. Functionally, they're all the same more or less built on the same machine glued, ribbed sole. The insole leather iron may vary, but the point as DW is trying to impress on readers is that once you go down the GY route the standard of insole is invariably, and significantly less than hand welted which typically will make use of circa 10 to 11 iron insole. Considerably less on RTW GY, up to 6 iron at best, if leather at all in some appalling cases.

    edit - for reader reference, 10 ½ iron = 14oz = circa 5.6mm / 6 iron = 8oz = circa 3.2mm

    I've seen Loake with insole leather considerably thinner than 6 iron. Pathetic.

    Also, in my opinion, it's the quality and gauge of leather insole that provides the foot forming ability and comfort, not the cruddy cork filler beneath as seen in GY.

    It's worth noting too that hand welting virtually eliminates the need for any filler between insole and midsole, perhaps making use of a little thin leather scrap where needed. With GY instead, a void, or gap, for which cork was intended not in purpose but as necessity to fill.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  15. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    If that's true, why do you need the gemming and the welt at all? Cement sole construction is faster easier and lest expensive simply by virtue of even more inferior materials be in adequate. And since GY is fundamentally a cement sole construction--the welt is just there to fool the consumer into thinking he is getting something like the quality that his father and grandfather got--what is it's function?

    The fact is, your statement is not true and if you knew anything about the techniques or the materials that go into a GY welted shoe versus a HW shoe, you wouldn't make such ridiculous statements.

    Most consumers couldn't really tell the difference between leatherboard insoles, or even paperboard insoles, and real leather insoles. Hell, most can't tell the difference between a sockliner and an insole.

    Or their asses from a hole in the ground.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  16. Isbister

    Isbister Senior member

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    Equal to? Possibly better even. There is no thread within the insole to rot and admit the passage of moisture. Modern glue is up to the job, and as for objective knowledge, my personal experience of the matter would make me reluctant to expend significantly more money for no tangible benefit. Yes, it's expediency and economy, and perhaps depressing to traditionalists, but it's also a brilliant innovation. How many man hours have been saved at one minute versus four hours per pair of shoes over the last 50 years, let's see now...
     
  17. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    What the hell world are you living in? Not only is there thread, it isn't waxed to seal the inseam (which allows the canvas gemming to get wet and rot), it is invariably a chain stitch.

    Did we touch on ignorance? There's that "spoon-fed" knowledge again.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  18. Isbister

    Isbister Senior member

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    No the difference is not the GY welting, of course, but the upper, how carefully and selectively it has been cut out, how well sewn, how well finished. GY is easy to resole - personally I'm not convinced of the need to return GY shoes to the factory for a simple resole (although I do), provided you have a good repairer locally.

    The insole leather no doubt does vary for GY at different price points, and needs to be stouter for hand welting to be sewn through.
     
  19. Isbister

    Isbister Senior member

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    Now you know quite well I was referring to the glued-on rib, as opposed to your (hand)sewn welt. The inseams of my shoes are perfectly sealed, thank you.
     
  20. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    That's ignorance as well. I have made and repaired numerous cement soled shoes and boots.

    Tell me how many hand welted or even GY welted shoes you have made. Tell me how you put them together. How you created the holdfast and sewed the inseam. You'll pardon me but your assertions are so patently false I need to establish a baseline for what knowledge you do have...just so I won't be tempted into facetiousness to highlight the fundamental lack of understanding here. I suspect you're letting your mouth write a check your backside can't cover.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
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