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The Bespoke Shoes Thread

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
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In English shoe making, a 'twisted' last is the application of contrapposto into last making. Contrapposto in art (not only Michelangelo's 'David' but thousands of depictions of the human body in painting and sculpture) places the lines of shoulder and pelvis onto different planes, so they are twisted against each other. This introduces a dynamic and tension, but also ease into the human figure, which a straight plonked -down figure (like the proverbial 'sack of potatoes') does not have.

That same applies to the twisted last. The lines of joint and heel are twisted against each other: the joint line slopes down towards the inside, which raises the outside while the heel line slopes down to the outside. With the difference being some 2 or 3 mm, I cannot see how that can have a major effect on the overall shoe, let alone have the beneficial effects Kirby describes. I've just checked one of my lasts and I wouldn't call it twisted as both, joint- and heel-line both slope down equally towards the inside. It is quite possible that an experienced last maker might make customer-based decisions whether to introduce a twist or leave it out.

I have problems to understand your 'rocking' of the shoe, I can't even work out whether the rocking goes from left to right or front to back. But rocking on the table is one thing, rocking with your weight inside the shoe (getting sea-sick from walking) is another thing.

Anyhow, Cleverley are going to remake the shoes and hopefully all the problems will be sorted out in due course.
By rocking I meant left to right. Kirby basically demonstrates it in his unboxing video.

I've read all sorts of explanations for this twisted last, but I'll be honest, I don't find any of them very convincing. Having talked to other Clev customers, it seems like they're often happy to send things out when they shouldn't be. It makes me think they're overloaded and not very good about quality control. And if the twisted last isn't consistent from order to order -- some people get it, some don't -- I can't help but think it's not a result of just knocking things out of the workshop.

I mean, if a tailor delivered a suit to me with a twisted sleeve and explained it with contrapposto and how it prevents wrinkling, I think I'd do one of those Jim "look at the camera" takes in The Office.

Didn't we have some discussion on the leather thread where you said something like consumers shouldn't need to research themselves to nitpick the quality and should trust the brand. Quality should be apparent or something to that extent.
Yes, I still believe that. Meaning, even if Cleverley explained the issues away, I still wouldn't think they were great shoes.
 

ntempleman

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Here’s an old twisted last I’ve got, you can see how the heel is a few degrees out of line with the forepart

1190815


Here it is from the front, if I hold the heel “flat” you can see how the outside of the forepart shoots up

1190816


The grey area for me with this whole thing is how you’re supposed to build the heel, do you build it square and even on both sides so the heel is flat with the floor and the outside toes are elevated?

1190817


Someone told me once that this helps reduce creasing once the foot flattens the shoe out with wear, but if you put the shoetree back in after wear, as you should, then you’ll just be putting creasing back in won’t you?

Or do you build the heel with a wedge, higher on the inside so the forepart is now flat?

1190818


This is what appears to have been done with the shoe in the video to some degree, and it’s something you need to be really careful with in my opinion. It’s entering the realms of orthotic support, which at it’s best requires a lot of medical experience, and at its worst is nothing more than hokum. You can do quite a bit of damage by wedging a heel up and adding support that isn’t required, it has the potential throw your knees and hips out of their natural alignment.

I never managed to clarify what the intended heel construction is/was supposed to be when doing something like this, but a lot of old knowledge didn’t get passed down - probably for the best in the case of “fixing” health issues in this age. You don’t ever see Thomas heels any more for instance. I’d love to get to the bottom of this twisted thing though. The first last I ever made had a pronounced twist; not by design, I just wasn’t paying attention and had very limited experience. I didn’t even notice until a more senior lastmaker pointed it out and offered to fix it for me.
 

DWFII

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@ntempleman Yes! My 'twisted' lasts look exactly the same.

I got them from Master Al Saguto, who was the head of the Shoemaking Department at Colonial Williamsburg. He had them 'digitalized'.

And he got them, IIRC, from the fellow he learned from--Master Earnest Peterkin. The point being that Peterkin was of the generation that preceded ours and had been making shoes for many years.

The word that was passed down about these lasts...from Peterkin to Saguto to me (and who knows how much further back)...was that the heel was to be built such that the forepart set 'flat.'

And yes, I am completely in agreement with you--it is too close to an orthotic for for me to accept prima facie. And, IMO, more likely '"hokum" than science.

And FWIW, I did feel it in my hips and knees .

Eventually, on subsequent builds for my wife and myself (call it misplaced optimism or 'faith'), I 'corrected' the heel plane to bring it back in line with the forepart. But, as you might suspect, the last did not just magically revert to a 'normal' last upon that correction. So, eventually, I stopped using it altogether. And in the aftermath I designed and 'created' my own model and had it 'digitalized'. "It's an ill wind...."

Beyond that, I don't see how...mechanically... this 'twisting' could prevent creasing. It surely did not on the shoes I built on the last.

By rocking I meant left to right. Kirby basically demonstrates it in his unboxing video.
I assumed that's what you meant. Again, unless the bottom construction is so stiff and the insole so rigid, there is very little chance that the shoe would rock back and forth during wear, or during weight bearing. .
 
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DWFII

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Didn't we have some discussion on the leather thread where you said something like consumers shouldn't need to research themselves to nitpick the quality and should trust the brand. Quality should be apparent or something to that extent.
:fonz:

:cheers:

To quote a famous author--"karma, neh?"
 

Manuel

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Can I ask if those shoes rock back and forth as a result?

I recently received a pair of Cleveleys and they were messed up in all sorts of ways -- the bottom of the sole was poorly finished, the uppers had what looked to be shoe polish drips, and there was a bit of space between the sole and the uppers. The two worst things, however, were: they were a bit too long, despite me going in three or four times for fittings (so many I've lost count). And the shoes rocked back and forth.

The rocking, to me, seemed like a result of two things: Clev's supposed twisted last (I still don't get why they do that) and a beveled waist that seemed to stretch into the forepart of the shoe. The middle dipped down so much, and the shoes along the outer edges sat pretty high off the ground.

Anyway, they were a mess and the order is currently being remade. There were so many things wrong with the shoes, I don't know if I can even tell what caused the rocking.

Kirby recently did a video of his Clevs and talked about the twisted last. I read this lessens the creasing. I think Kirby said it elongates the silhouette without adding volume. I don't know if I understand either of those reasons, but Clev seems to be the only shoemaker who does this. And it's not even consistent on every order, which makes you wonder if it's not a feature, but a bug, and lasts are just being pushed out of the workshop because of the number of orders.
It has to be said that this is an excellent and timely topic. This thread is about bespoke shoes and as everywhere the theory abounds but theory is one thing and practice is another.

You need to have a lot of experience to get a perfect fit for the client, most artisans don´t know what are the procedures to get it because they don´t know the trade, they only know parts of it and that is a problem for the client.
On the other hand I have used a lot of thomas heel even the inverted and I still do it in patients that require it, it creates stability, favors the elevation of the longitudinal arch and the alignment of the heel valgus.
In normal footwear or /bespoke shoes) the best is the aligned heel.
Fit, fit fit, the most importan thing to get and that is not achieved by making 4 shoes per month.......
 

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
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Here’s an old twisted last I’ve got, you can see how the heel is a few degrees out of line with the forepart

View attachment 1190815

Here it is from the front, if I hold the heel “flat” you can see how the outside of the forepart shoots up

View attachment 1190816

The grey area for me with this whole thing is how you’re supposed to build the heel, do you build it square and even on both sides so the heel is flat with the floor and the outside toes are elevated?

View attachment 1190817

Someone told me once that this helps reduce creasing once the foot flattens the shoe out with wear, but if you put the shoetree back in after wear, as you should, then you’ll just be putting creasing back in won’t you?

Or do you build the heel with a wedge, higher on the inside so the forepart is now flat?

View attachment 1190818

This is what appears to have been done with the shoe in the video to some degree, and it’s something you need to be really careful with in my opinion. It’s entering the realms of orthotic support, which at it’s best requires a lot of medical experience, and at its worst is nothing more than hokum. You can do quite a bit of damage by wedging a heel up and adding support that isn’t required, it has the potential throw your knees and hips out of their natural alignment.

I never managed to clarify what the intended heel construction is/was supposed to be when doing something like this, but a lot of old knowledge didn’t get passed down - probably for the best in the case of “fixing” health issues in this age. You don’t ever see Thomas heels any more for instance. I’d love to get to the bottom of this twisted thing though. The first last I ever made had a pronounced twist; not by design, I just wasn’t paying attention and had very limited experience. I didn’t even notice until a more senior lastmaker pointed it out and offered to fix it for me.
Yea, I think you drew an illustration at some point for the forum showing this (meaning, building up the heel).

Mine don't even sit right at the heel. Meaning, the heel doesn't sit totally flat against the ground -- they're like that tilted version in your drawing, although more like they're beveled in the middle.

Again, I can't tell if the rocking is a result of the sole being thicker throughout its entirety, from heel to toe, in the middle. Or if it's the twisted last. Or maybe it's both.

Either way, I can't understand why it would be done on purpose. The thing you posted, with the heel built so the shoes sit evenly, makes sense to me. But why would someone want a shoe that rocks back and forth? Kirby demonstrates this in his recent alligator loafer unboxing video.
 

DWFII

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Even with a 'twisted' last the heel should sit flat. So if these shoes are rocking back and forth when you're standing in them, the fact that you say your heels don't sit flat is probably the reason.
 

dan'l

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Speaking of lasts, does anyone here have experience with having a custom last made by a lastmaker and going to a different cordwainer to have the shoes made? I know there will be a lot of "why bother?" replies, etc., but I am wondering if anyone has done it. If yes, any recommendations? The only one that comes to mind is Spring Line, but I believe they make lasts more for RTW makers.
 

dan'l

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I meant I thought they were more trade-orientated, as in you couldn't just make an appointment with them to get a last made. Or are you saying that Spring Line makes last for clients of cordwainers, based on input from them?
 

ntempleman

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Springline will make you a last to your measures if you want, no problem. Whether it will be the same sort of last you’d get from a West End shop, I don’t know. I can’t imagine there’s any sort of guarantee regarding fit if it doesn’t work out to plan. That’s the biggest benefit from going to a fully functioning shoe firm, they have to stand behind whatever they make, if a Last doesn’t fit then they have to fix it. Getting things made from here there and everywhere gives all of those people a handy “out”. The lastmaker blames the pattern cutter who blames the closer who blames the maker
 

DWFII

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And all that said, if you get a pair of lasts that...once you've had a pair of shoes made on it...fits you fine, generally speaking any other shoemaker (working in the same way) can make a shoe that fits the same as the first.

But no guarantees.

And balance and 'lines' are almost certainly not going to be the same.

So...no guarantees.
 

ntempleman

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I can confirm different makers will have different fits even when using the same lasts, trimming the insole wider or undercutting the last will change the size, lasting tighter will change how much the leather shrinks back after pulling the last, the shape, size and thickness of your stiffeners will play a part in how they feel as well as how they look. Even how you prep the insole and welt the shoe, how much filler each maker needs to use will make the shoes feel different in wear. That’s why you always want the same people to do the work for any repeat customers, it’s the only way to provide consistency
 

Concordia

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patrickBOOTH

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One thing I am curious about on bespoke shoes are facings. If facings are too far apart is that a pattern issue, or an instep issue (last). How does one balance the two?
 

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