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The Bespoke Shoes Thread

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
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Beyond that, theory be damned, who knows what inspires fashion? Daniel Wegan mentioned that 2) zero toe spring makes the shoes look less pedestrian." By what definition? Is Daniel (no offense intended) the final arbiter of this? Perhaps he is...for this generation. But like very other generation before it time-out-of-mind, the next will have its own eminently subjective notions of what is fashionable or stylish or attractive.
Why does there have to be a final arbiter for aesthetics? It's OK for some things to be unresolvable and subjective. Daniel thinks it makes the shoes look better. If someone disagrees, that's OK too.

Some people believe in God, some people don't. There's no way to prove either side, but that doesn't mean people can't have an opinion on God. Or that one's belief in a higher being (or lack thereof) can't be a main driver for decisions.

Genuine question: do you not take aesthetics into account when buying clothes? Like, do you just choose whatever is "objectively" the best made?
 

DWFII

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Why does one quote a story or a person to bolster a purely subjective opinion? Why not quote @ntempleman on this subject? If you want to be objective you can't just selectively take one side...esp. without evidence, rationales and a certain amount of demonstrability.

For that matter, why do people argue (not necessarily you) about things that they don't have any objective experience with?

I think discussing subjective issues such as aesthetics and fashion is fine. And we can do that all day...or someone can because I don't hold that my subjective opinions mean much to anyone but me.

But the problem with that is that in the absence of meaningful, informed, perhaps even slightly objective rationales, and perhaps even disclaimers, it always ends up with one person...usually inexperienced or ill-informed...trying to impose their will on the other participants in that discussion if only by dint of status or force of personality. In fact, I suspect that might be the only reason to have such conversations beyond the initial statement of positions.

For instance...two statements of position on aesthetics albeit grounded in objective experience.

I like the whole cut oxford. I think they are the most elegant style there is from a purely aesthetic POV. Nothing to break the lines, distract the eye, confound the natural beauty of the leather. And as a shoemaker, it's a somewhat more difficult and perhaps even more profligate-of-leather build--no chance to cut parts from marginal areas of the hide.

I dislike a glace'd shoe. The wax hides the natural beauty of the leather--a beauty that was part and parcel of the customer's original "vision"...based on what the maker laid out on the table at the time of order. And the fact that it generally will not last long introduces a whiff of deliberate deception. Worse, that build-up of wax tends to suffocate the leather.

How do we have a meaningful discussion about these issues without quickly descending into blather? How does my opinion...or yours...make a difference to anyone but sycophants and dependent personalities?

Of course, I take aesthetics in to account. I strive for a pleasing and harmonious appearance when I makes shoes as well. But I do not put it ahead of build quality or structural integrity, or longevity.

A good and (unfortunately all too common) example: A rustic but carefully made pine armoire may not look as good (or as "sophisticated") as an oak-veneer-over-particleboard armoire...which would you choose?

Sometimes, in order to get both aesthetics and quality...objective quality...you have step up. man up, as who should say. Simple as that--it's just a fact of life. It seems to me that when you filter out all the hype and PR and sophistry, that's the heart of the issue.
 
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dieworkwear

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The year is 1942. A young DWF turns in a book report on Anna Karenina. It's a single, cleanly typed sheet that reads: “aesthetics are entirely superficial, subjective, and ephemeral. Hence, I can only report that the book was printed on 80 g/m² paper with a caliper of 120 micrometres, using substandard Phillips ink that resulted in a slight bleeding on hard-edged lines.”

The year is 1958 and a college-age DWF is asked what he thought of the night’s open mic performances. His eyes glisten with sadness as he turns away and looks out to the distance. He tells his roommate: “Ethan, comedy is singularly unique to an individual and fundamentally incommunicable. How do we have a meaningful discussion about these issues without quickly descending into blather? How does my opinion...or yours...make a difference to anyone but sycophants and dependent personalities? I can only tell you that Sarah held the microphone too close to her mouth, which resulted in a deeper-than-usual transmission. This was especially true during the punchlines.”

The year is 1982 and DWF's first son has just been born. He and his wife are in the hospital together. His wife, exhausted from emotion and physical stress, hands her newborn over to DWF, who takes the child and wistfully looks out the window, beyond the trees and into the clear blue skies. He says: “Dear, I wish I could say this is a beautiful moment. But who defines such a thing? Are you, no offense intended, the final arbiter of beautiful moments? Perhaps so … for this generation. But like other generations before it time-out-of-mind, the next will have its own eminently subjective notions of what makes a moment beautiful. I can only report that our son is 7 pounds and 2 ounces, slightly slimy at the moment, and very, very noisy.”
 

DWFII

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Excuse me but with all due respect, you are "catastrophizing" and worse you're confusing "feelings" with rationality.

I'll talk about aesthetics all day with you. I've said that over and over again.

What I do...do...involves aesthetics to a degree that people who don't do are hard pressed to understand. I not only consider, I teach and implement, aesthetic sensibilities...every day, all day. I don't just talk about it. I practice it. I experience it...hard core. I take into consideration colour harmonies and fair curves and negative spaces and the Golden Mean with every breath. These are everyday critical realities for me. They are part and parcel of who I am. These sensibilities, as well as the will to explore and refine them and to bring them into my work... are in my very blood.

"You step up to your workbench and you open up a vein, you put yourself in every piece...that's why they bear your name."

Perhaps,...perhaps... I understand aesthetics better and have a greater affinity for them than you think I do. Better than anyone but another maker (of anything) or Artist. Better surely than people who simply sit back and critique.

But it's a Catch 22 esp. in the context of this conversation, because even if all that's true in the most objective way it can be true, someone...maybe someone like you...will feel justified in calling those experiences into question because they have never gone to those heights...or those depths...themselves and don't believe it is possible.
 
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dieworkwear

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Excuse me but with all due respect, you are "catastrophizing" and worse you're confusing "feelings" with rationality.

I'll talk about aesthetics all day with you. I've said that over and over again.

What I do...do...involves aesthetics to a degree that people who don't do are hard pressed to understand. I not only consider, I teach and implement, aesthetic sensibilities...every day, all day. I don't just talk about it. I practice it. I experience it...hard core. I take into consideration colour harmonies and fair curves and negative spaces and the Golden Mean with every breath. These are everyday critical realities for me. They are part and parcel of who I am. These sensibilities, as well as the will to explore and refine them and to bring them into my work... are in my very blood.

"You step up to your workbench and you open up a vein, you put yourself in every piece...that's why they bear your name."

Perhaps,...perhaps... I understand aesthetics better and have a greater affinity for them than you think I do. Better than anyone but another maker (of anything) or Artist. Better surely than people who simply sit back and critique.

But it's a Catch 22 esp. in the context of this conversation, because even if all that's true in the most objective way it can be true, someone...maybe someone like you...will feel justified in calling those experiences into question because they have never gone to those heights...or those depths...themselves and don't believe it is possible.
Lol, man, DWF, I appreciate your contributions on this board, but you gotta lighten up.

Anyway, Daniel says he uses a minimal spring cause he thinks it makes the shoes look nicer. If I'm reading right, Nicholas says toes spring up with wear anyway and more spring will minimize wrinkling in the end. Both seem totally legit reasons to me.
 

DWFII

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Anyway, Daniel says he uses a minimal spring cause he thinks it makes the shoes look nicer. If I'm reading right, Nicholas says toes spring up with wear anyway and more spring will minimize wrinkling in the end. Both seem totally legit reasons to me.
I don't necessarily agree with Daniel but understand why he's saying it.

Nicholas and I agree on a lot. Sometimes it surprises me seeing as how we come from opposite sides of the pond and from as different a set of beginnings as could possibly be imagined.

As far as "lightening up" that's who I am. So sorry. Maybe it too is part and parcel of the "aesthetic temperament."

Besides, 1942 is either too early or too late...depending on your perspective.
 
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j ingevaldsson

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Lol, man, DWF, I appreciate your contributions on this board, but you gotta lighten up.

Anyway, Daniel says he uses a minimal spring cause he thinks it makes the shoes look nicer. If I'm reading right, Nicholas says toes spring up with wear anyway and more spring will minimize wrinkling in the end. Both seem totally legit reasons to me.
I don't necessarily agree with Daniel but understand why he's saying it.

Nicholas and I agree on a lot. Sometimes it surprises me seeing as how we come from opposite sides of the pond and from as different a set of beginnings as could possibly be imagined.

As far as "lightening up" that's who I am. So sorry. Maybe it too is part and parcel of the "aesthetic temperament."

Besides, 1942 is either too early or too late...depending on your perspective.
So we get things right, once again, as I wrote on the previous page, Daniel does not say anything about "minimal spring", "little to no toe spring", "zero spring" or anything like that, he says "I keep the toe spring quite low" and "they look a lot less pedestrian with a lower toe". That's also what he states he works with when we talk about the subject, low toe spring, but not no toe spring, it's quite a big difference. My pairs from G&G and if you look at most bespoke from them, the toe spring is in general around 1 cm (now I talk about toe tip above ground on the shoe, not last spring).
 

DWFII

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So we get things right, once again, as I wrote on the previous page, Daniel does not say anything about "minimal spring", "little to no toe spring", "zero spring" or anything like that, he says "I keep the toe spring quite low" and "they look a lot less pedestrian with a lower toe". That's also what he states he works with when we talk about the subject, low toe spring, but not no toe spring, it's quite a big difference. My pairs from G&G and if you look at most bespoke from them, the toe spring is in general around 1 cm (now I talk about toe tip above ground on the shoe, not last spring).
You're right...I quoted the summary that @dieworkwear provided. I apologize to Daniel Wegan if I characterized his ideas about toe spring.
 

mammothnguyen

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Hi all

I would like to ask for some advice regarding shoe construction and how they affect fit and comfort.

I am now on my third (second on a personal last) from St. Crispin's. The fit has gradually improved, but there's a particular spot which is still not great (as in killing my foot at the end of the day not great). The inner ball of my left foot seems to be pressed into the insole, and it would hurt at the end of the day. I'm deducing that a low instep (which I requested, since I have a pretty low one) is actually forcing the foot down, combining with insufficient space in the vamp around the ball area. A discussion with my vendor (I'm based in Australia) suggests that reducing the stiffening material in the area would also be a contributing factor.

What would be the implications, from a fit perspective, of either lifting the instep, adding room to the inner ball, softening the stiffening area around the instep area, or a combination of the three would do to improve the fit? Or is it a matter of wearing it in?

I would have asked St. Crispin's directly if I can. However, there won't be a trunk show in Australia for another while, which is not ideal at all.

Any advice would be most appreciated.

@DWFII, what's your specific take?

Thanks
 
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DWFII

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...

Any advice would be most appreciated.

@DWFII, what's your specific take?

Thanks
First, thank you for the 'invite'.

As far as this problem is concerned, without a bit more information...maybe even looking at your foot...I cannot be certain that I know what is going on. And I'm not a foot doctor.

That said, I am a bespoke shoe and boot maker and have some insights and experience gleaned over a number of decades. Not to mention some similar problems with my own feet (Morton's neuroma) back in my early days.

So, let me ask...Is the pain underneath the foot? In the 'pad' behind the toes?

If so, it sounds to me as if you have a weak or a fallen metatarsal arch. Sometimes these issues can come on quite rapidly, and they can be exacerbated by fit or shoe balance.

I don't think that the instep of the shoe has much to do with it unless it is extremely tight esp. in the affected area. Requesting a low instep when your foot has a low instep is reasonable. The first mandate of the bespoke shoemaker is to "fit what's there"--the foot, IOW. If the shoe fits properly, the instep isn't going to create pain in the ball joint.

I am not sure how "softening the stiffening" around the instep would help. If the shoe was made properly such stiffening doesn't have much affect on the instep or the ball.

What's left is fit in the ball area...and the 'balance' of the shoe.

If the shoe is too tight in, or behind, the 'tread line' a weak metatarsal joint can be impacted and caused to 'fall'. If the insole is too narrow...narrower than the natural footprint...regardless the girth measurement, this can force the metatarsal heads inward upon themselves which can cause pain and even exacerbate neuromas from previous injuries. I suspect that this is getting close to the heart of the matter.

Finally, if the shoe is not balanced properly--if it throws your weight to the inside or outside, or elevates your feet such that body weight is driven directly into the metatarsal region, these too can cause or aggravate latent problems.

Sometimes just wearing the shoe will help. The shoe is not, presumably, made of wood or concrete--leather has some 'give' to it.

And it's not unusual for the human body to find some sort of (often long term unhealthy) accommodation to pain, discomfort and improper fit. Sometimes the body will 'shut down' a pain signal if you ignore it long enough. that doesn't solve the real, underlying structural problem but that's for tomorrow and tomorrow is another day.

Of course, sometimes continuing to wear the shoe in the face of such issues, only 'sets' them in concrete, as who should say. This is why women have so much problems with their feet esp. in later years.

Bottom line is that you shouldn't have to 'grin and bear it'. Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is dreadfully wrong and needs to be corrected.

Hope this helps some....
 
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mammothnguyen

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First, thank you for the 'invite'.

As far as this problem is concerned, without a bit more information...maybe even looking at your foot...I cannot be certain that I know what is going on. And I'm not a foot doctor.

That said, I am a bespoke shoe and boot maker and have some insights and experience gleaned over a number of decades. Not to mention some similar problems with my own feet (Morton's neuroma) back in my early days.

So, let me ask...Is the pain underneath the foot? In the 'pad' behind the toes?

If so, it sounds to me as if you have a weak or a fallen metatarsal arch. Sometimes these issues can come on quite rapidly, and they can be exacerbated by fit or shoe balance.

I don't think that the instep of the shoe has much to do with it unless it is extremely tight esp. in the affected area. Requesting a low instep when your foot has a low instep is reasonable. The first mandate of the bespoke shoemaker is to "fit what's there"--the foot, IOW. If the shoe fits properly, the instep isn't going to create pain in the ball joint.

I am not sure how "softening the stiffening" around the instep would help. If the shoe was made properly such stiffening doesn't have much affect on the instep or the ball.

What's left is fit in the ball area...and the 'balance' of the shoe.

If the shoe is too tight in, or behind, the 'tread line' a weak metatarsal joint can be impacted and caused to 'fall'. If the insole is too narrow...narrower than the natural footprint...regardless the girth measurement, this can force the metatarsal heads inward upon themselves which can cause pain and even exacerbate neuromas from previous injuries. I suspect that this is getting close to the heart of the matter.

Finally, if the shoe is not balanced properly--if it throws your weight to the inside or outside, or elevates your feet such that body weight is driven directly into the metatarsal region, these too can cause or aggravate latent problems.

Sometimes just wearing the shoe will help. The shoe is not, presumably, made of wood or concrete--leather has some 'give' to it.

And it's not unusual for the human body to find some sort of (often long term unhealthy) accommodation to pain, discomfort and improper fit. Sometimes the body will 'shut down' a pain signal if you ignore it long enough. that doesn't solve the real, underlying structural problem but that's for tomorrow and tomorrow is another day.

Of course, sometimes continuing to wear the shoe in the face of such issues, only 'sets' them in concrete, as who should say. This is why women have so much problems with their feet esp. in later years.

Bottom line is that you shouldn't have to 'grin and bear it'. Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is dreadfully wrong and needs to be corrected.

Hope this helps some....
@DW Thank you for your thorough and informative answer.

Most importantly, your answer addressed my problem much better than the answers that I've received regarding the issue. In other words, you nailed it in the head. Although in my case, the pain would radiate to the joint itself.

From feeling the pads of my feet, the one on the left felt much larger, which I suspect to be the issue all this time. I was wondering about the tightness around the back of the treadline, what would be the cause of that?

I'll see if I can get a few pics at some stage today for you to look at, if it helps? Since I do get some weird creasing around the ball area as well.
 

DWFII

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Glad to help if I can.:cheers:
 

mammothnguyen

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Glad to help if I can.:cheers:
Cheers,

Apologies for the lighting, but here we go

20181210_182648.jpg
20181210_182700.jpg


20181210_183504.jpg

20181210_183738.jpg


As you can see in the inner ball, the creasing is a bit all over the place, but I cannot describe it as well as it should.

What do you think DW? And everyone? In relation to the issues that we have identified? Apart from adding more spaces, what else could be done, at least from the photos? And what further information do you need?

I know that the best information could only be gleaned by a face to face meeting, but I do appreciate whatever advice everyone can offer.
 

DWFII

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I was always taught that when a strong diagonal crease develops across the ball of the foot, it is often an indication that the shoe is too short.

Almost everyone has one foot that is longer than the other one. Most of the time it is not all that significant. But it could certainly be a factor in your problem.

Peoples' feet are not cast from a mold. Some people have long toes, some have short toes. A correct fit is always based on the distance between the back of the heel and the medial ball joint. So if a shoe is fit for overall length, a misfit is a very real possibility. A misfit that could cause the ball joint to 'socket' in the wrong place relative to the last that the shoe was made on.

Again this can cause issues.

I don't know what to tell you beyond that. Aside from the diagonal crease, the rest of the creases (pipes) look pretty normal--leather will crease according to a number of factors, to a greater or lesser degree...the leather itself not the least of them.
 
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