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The Bespoke Shoes Thread

DWFII

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You’re a master Bootmaker and no one would dispute full bespoke. But all things considered, the modified last I found suited my purpose best.
And some find RTW suits their purpose best. Some find cement construction (in one form or another) suits their purpose best. No harm, no foul...my remark wasn't about you.
 

dieworkwear

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From what I am told JLP most certainly start with your wallet.
This is what I'm saying. Bespoke is a very uneven field and this craft vs modernity narrative doesn't represent what customers will experience if they go into bespoke.

I can't remember where it was posted, but someone posted a photo of their JL shoes once on this board. They looked ... very, very bad. Like awful. They looked like clown shoes in terms of their shape.

Someone else here once posted a photo of their Cleverleys and there was a nail sticking out inside the footbed. A friend bought a pair of Clevs a while ago, totally separate incident, put his foot and found a tack sticking into his foot.
 
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Alan Bee

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And some find RTW suits their purpose best. Some find cement construction (in one form or another) suits their purpose best. No harm, no foul...my remark wasn't about you.
I’m not sure suits are a fair comparison for the sole reason that bespoke shoes cost multiples of RTW. I have an exclusively bespoke dress wardrobe but only because no one makes clothes in my proportions.

Oddly, my bespoke garments cost less on average than high end branded RTW suits. But that’s because I was very involved in the process and did a lot of traveling to build my bespoke wardrobe.

Alan Bee
 

DWFII

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I’m not sure suits are a fair comparison for the sole reason that bespoke shoes cost multiples of RTW. I have an exclusively bespoke dress wardrobe but only because no one makes clothes in my proportions.

Oddly, my bespoke garments cost less on average than high end branded RTW suits. But that’s because I was very involved in the process and did a lot of traveling to build my bespoke wardrobe.

Alan Bee
I'm sorry...pls. read my remark again--I was not talking about suits. I was echoing your comment about the "modified last suiting (sic) your purposes best". After I posted it, I wondered if it could be mis-read but couldn't think of another way to make the point and still draw an association to your comment.

That said, please forgive me but I have heard those kinds of comments my whole career-- "It's not necessary to be careful about dropping inseam threads...I keep my floor swept clean." Meaning it's too onerous to learn how to handle an awl and the thread simultaneously.

"Pegs aren't necessary"...meaning "I don't know how to drive pegs correctly and I break so many, it's not holding the way I want. Besides iron nails are cheaper."

"Toes bugs (the ornamental toe stitching on cowboy boots) are not necessary" meaning "I don't know how to do toe bugs very well, so I just don't offer them--they're unnecessary."

Leather toe puffs are not necessary and celastic is so much cheaper and so much less work."

"Hand welting is not necessary--it takes hours longer than GYW and requires more expensive materials and and a whole bunch of skills I don't have, and I'm not really interested in learning. No profit in it.."

Just saying...but as far as that goes, and to be fair, 'bespoke' is about more than fit--it is about choices and personalization. MTM is also about fit with little or none of the choices.
 
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DWFII

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This is what I'm saying. Bespoke is a very uneven field and this craft vs modernity narrative doesn't represent what customers will experience if they go into bespoke.

I can't remember where it was posted, but someone posted a photo of their JL shoes once on this board. They looked ... very, very bad. Like awful. They looked like clown shoes in terms of their shape.

Someone else here once posted a photo of their Cleverleys and there was a nail sticking out inside the footbed. A friend bought a pair of Clevs a while ago, totally separate incident, put his foot and found a tack sticking into his foot.

There are a fair number of people on this forum who are made uncomfortable with my focus on bespoke and my 'passion' about the Trade and the Traditions and esp. my distaste for manufacturing and the 'factory mentality."

But that's what it takes to be a Craftsman (with a capital "C"). A singularity of purpose. An unwavering focus on detail and an unswerving adherence to principle--both functional and metaphysical.

A good bespoke maker never says "good enough." Period.

A good bespoke maker, does not compromise in either technique or philosophical perspective.

It's an attitude, a mindset. And if you commission from a maker who isn't a 'bespoke' maker in his mind...isn't a Craftsman in his heart...you won't get what you're hoping for.

As you may have found out in your dealings with @ntempleman
 

dieworkwear

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There are a fair number of people on this forum who are made uncomfortable with my focus on bespoke and my 'passion' about the Trade and the Traditions and esp. my distaste for manufacturing and the 'factory mentality."

But that's what it takes to be a Craftsman (with a capital "C"). A singularity of purpose. An unwavering focus on detail and an unswerving adherence to principle--both functional and metaphysical.

A good bespoke maker never says "good enough." Period.

A good bespoke maker, does not compromise in either technique or philosophical perspective.

It's an attitude, a mindset. And if you commission from a maker who isn't a 'bespoke' maker in his mind...isn't a Craftsman in his heart...you won't get what you're hoping for.

As you may have found out in your dealings with @ntempleman
Sure, but this definition is tautological. You've built goodness into the definition of bespoke.

If you take bespoke as the actual process of just custom made shoes, and don't use tautological logic, then the field is actually much more varied.

What does this phrase mean -- "bespoke starts with the foot, all else starts with your wallet" -- if it doesn't cover three of the biggest bespoke makers (Clev, John Lobb Paris, and John Lobb Bootmaker)? If RTW can fit better in some cases than these custom shops, what does this foot vs wallet aphorism even mean in terms of people's actual experiences? Those bespoke shops are sometimes just as guilty as "starting with your wallet."

Will say, I don't think this is limited to big shops. I don't want to denigrate any small maker's work, but IG is full of examples of independent shoemakers whose work simply doesn't look very good. It's hard to find genuinely good bespoke shoemakers, just as it's hard to find the same in any other craft.
 

DWFII

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No offense, but I suspect you're just afraid of idealism, as who should say.

If you start out with the idea that learning and knowing about how shoes are made (inside out) is not necessary...that all you have to do is ask the maker if it's good; if you start out with "it looks good, so it must be"; it's only a matter of time, you're gonna get bit.

I didn't build goodness into the definition of bespoke. For one thing I freely acknowledge that there are good and bad bespoke makers just as there are bad and not so bad :-D RTW makers.

For another thing, I suspect, that the 'goodness' you allude to is built into the Tradition and how it is transmitted, the human-ness, the satisfaction and self-worth that comes with doing something well. And, probably most importantly, the 'lucky' genetic make-up of those who have the 'grit' to pursue it. Despite everything.

If I'm not mistaken, in this last imbroglio you have been on about, you started out with a 'production' outfit . Where's that at? I don't care who they've got working for them if their focus is production, or the bottom line...they can't be focused on the shoe, much less you. That's not their job...ostensibly it's yours. So the more you know the better your chances.

People often ask me this...both in these public discussions and in PM's...:

If I were a customer looking to get into bespoke and as cynical as some here are, the first thing I'd do is talk to the maker(s). If he starts off talking about things that make you slightly uncomfortable--like 'objective quality,' 'best practices' 'the search for excellence', 'fair curves', 'transparency' 'authenticity; 'substance', etc., etc., well, maybe you're halfway there. The next thing to do is look at his work. See if his rhetoric matches his offerings...so easy, esp,. in this day of the Internet. Talk to him about construction techniques and grades of leather. All with your past dissatisfactions foremost in mind...because that's how we all learn...

The shoemaker, too.
 
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dieworkwear

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If I were a customer looking to get into bespoke and as cynical as some here are, the first thing I'd do is talk to the maker(s). If he starts off talking about things that make you slightly uncomfortable--like 'objective quality,' 'best practices' 'the search for excellence', 'fair curves', 'transparency' 'authenticity; 'substance', etc., etc., well, maybe you're halfway there.
IME, if you hear language like that, it's often a bad sign. The best bespoke makers I've worked with all speak very plainly. I'm mostly thinking of people like Nicholas, Edwin at Steed, and Frank Clegg. The people who use language like that are often salespeople.
 

DWFII

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IME, if you hear language like that, it's often a bad sign. The best bespoke makers I've worked with all speak very plainly. I'm mostly thinking of people like Nicholas, Edwin at Steed, and Frank Clegg. The people who use language like that are often salespeople.
I don't disagree with you--the PR people have co-oped and corrupted everything. It makes me suspicious when I hear people talk like that, too.

But those are the things, ideas, concepts and ideals that have driven me my whole career. And while I have never really spoken about them to a customer, I do now. Here in this venue.

But just because the shoemaker doesn't talk like that doesn't mean it's not there. It's your job (and it's the same job we all have with each other, everyday) to find out if it is or not.

Bottom line is, I'm not selling anything. And I'm old. And coming closer to realizing what matters...really matters. That said, just as a set of metaphysical concepts, I am astonished and disappointed at the cynicism that almost inevitably arises.

Because whether or not such talk is the natural, or spoils-to-the victor, purview of the salesman or PR department, it came from somewhere, originally...somewhere genuine. And, in my view, the perversion ofsuch sentiments comes as much from the customer not making the salesman pay for his dishonesty. But rather letting it fester and defending it and actually accepting dishonesty as inevitable. Even rewarding it.

Because, every time you buy a pair of shoes that somebody touted as "The finest shoes in England"or "longest wearing", traditional techniques," etc., when, objectively, they are none of those things, you reinforce the notion that consumers are dolts and too dull to even want to learn how shoes are made. Too insensate and incurious. If you grow/cultivate/nurture deceit, deceit will be your next meal.

As for me, I like the lines:

"...goodness knows
You might have done better
But then heaven knows
You might have done worse
If you lit up
The occasional candle
You’re allowed the occasional curse"
 
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Manuel

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Several subjects have touched upon very very interesting here,.
"Alan and bdavro23" have posed things........ I hardly think that anyone, or majority of members here could be able to respond why?I said before to "Nicholas" .
Craftsmen are very limited and are generally ill prepared then that's why they should share the work and that´s where trouble stars.
Have you read good post Alan "1729" ? "The entire process has taken almost a whole year "
I wonder why so much?
The test should be immediately and these must be made by one person, a person capable of mastering the trade completely.
But......where is that person?.....problems, money, time, disappointment ..... that is the result.....
 

Alan Bee

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Several subjects have touched upon very very interesting here,.
"Alan and bdavro23" have posed things........ I hardly think that anyone, or majority of members here could be able to respond why?I said before to "Nicholas" .
Craftsmen are very limited and are generally ill prepared then that's why they should share the work and that´s where trouble stars.
Have you read good post Alan "1729" ? "The entire process has taken almost a whole year "
I wonder why so much?
The test should be immediately and these must be made by one person, a person capable of mastering the trade completely.
But......where is that person?.....problems, money, time, disappointment ..... that is the result.....
@Manuel

The process or shall I say, project with Phillip Car at St. Crispin has taken a year to date. Let me explain.

I was first introduced to St. Crispin earlier last year when I decided on a full shoe wardrobe overhaul. As I did with my bespoke wardrobe, I came up with a plan and designed what I thought was an ideal shoe wardrobe for my purposes. I then set out to select makers to execute this vision. After some thorough research which included a trip to Milan to visit Marco Facchinetti of Riccardo Bestetti, I settled on these 3 makers (Edward Green, St. Crispin & Cleverley) for my dress shoes. BTW, I also built into my wardrobe re-make a RTW pair of Budapester derbies on the original Budapester last from Vass (for casual wear) and an experimental oxford brogue (G&G Rothschild on DG70 last) from Gaziano & Girling whose pointy lasts I couldn't quite come around to for the semi-bespoke short list. The G&G is a dark brown brogue in Vintage Oak which I've since relegated to brown suits and summer casual suiting (I avoid pairing oxford shoes with sport jackets. For that I prefer derbies)

Around summer last year, I had my first consultation with Phillip Car at St. C. He proceeded to make me a personal last and trial shoes which were delivered sometime in the Fall of 2018. Once we'd ironed out the kinks in the trial pair, I placed my first order for production shoes around December 2018. We began with a pair of dark brown Inca grained leather Chukka ankle boots (Model 524) and a classic pair of whole-cut oxfords in black (Model 114). The first two pair were delivered in March 2019 and the fit was almost bespoke good. I was delighted finally to have a pair of oxfords that fit my narrow-heeled, flat feet (derbies I can manage Off-the rack because of the open lacing enclosure).

We then decided to experiment further by building my medically prescribed orthotics into a shoe and decided to do that with the burgundy cap toes (Model 522B with some personal design mods). I placed the 2nd order in March 2019 upon receiving my first two pair. The shoes of course looked perfectly executed aesthetically but I've sent them back to St. C for some minor correction in fit. As we speak, its in the mail coming back to me (July 2019). So thats the year long journey with Phillip Car and St. C.

Edward Green (which I've worn for 15 years) and Cleverley are a different story. They made minor adjustments to a standard C and D width respectively (mostly narrowing the heels further and bringing in the instep a bit to accommodate my shallow feet) but nothing remotely close to the level of customization of the St. C. I placed the order for both EG and Clev in December 2018. I received the EG's in May 2019 and the Cleverley's just got finished last week (July 2019).

I also had all three makers make me black dress oxfords. Plain black cap toe Edward Green Chelsea in 11.5/12 202C and a pair of black Anthony Cleverley plain cap Bodie in 11.5 D UK. The St. C's are a classic pair of black whole cuts (Model 114) for formal wear.

So as far as a "core" workhorse dress shoe wardrobe, I'm pretty much shoed-out for possibly a lifetime assuming proper care and resoling (which all three makers offer).

Alan Bee
 
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DWFII

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IME, if you hear language like that, it's often a bad sign. The best bespoke makers I've worked with all speak very plainly.
Thinking back over this, I have to apologize--it's a hard concept to understand much less articulate.

But immensely more so when the idea of balance is left out and one dismisses or ignores one half of the very equation that creates balance. It's our old subjective vs. objective controversy: When the two are combined there is some hope to achieve and/or recognize quality. When one is discounted, that hope becomes fugitive, if not forfeit.

The perspectives that drive a maker have to be weighed against the reality of his work. Anyone can talk the talk but to walk the walk is another matter altogether.

The problem is very much like the old aphorism: When all you have is a hammer (cynicism) everything looks like a nail (disaster).
 

ntempleman

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Great to see you back jerrybrowne, it’s always been a pleasure to make for you! I’ve actually got that belated replacement pair under way for you at the moment - found a guy who does that pie crust stitch and sourced the right leather to match 88 aniline. I’ll keep you posted
 

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