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The high end Chinese Shoe Thread

BomTrady

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Good question, in fact, a friend of mine (he is probably one of the first clients of ACME) gave me the same feedback, that ACME's leather is top notch, but still a bit below YF, Aurum, and a couple other tier one makers.

When I read about ACME's review from Jesper, I was also thinking if he may have received a "better" shoes than normal customers. But I guess that'd be hard to find out.
You're right, how would we ever know.
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Simon from PS once gave a lukewarm review to Ambrosi, but I can never tell if Simon is paying or not paying for the things he review. I have a pair of Acme shoes and I like them a lot. But I can not earnestly find that level of superlatives for them or anything I own, for ta hat matter.

Although trained by SB and a good and honest writer, Justin always seemed to show some irreverence for the big makers in his writings. I think some of his reviews, and particularly that one, may have been a hidden jab at the established houses.
I really love Simon's site but I haven't looked at it in some time. When I did read it, it was more for the educational and informational aspect (clothing more than shoes). I took brand recommendations with a grain of salt (due to what was paid for and what was not).

Honestly, I never really read up on Justin's site. Consequently, I don't know much about him or what his preferences are/aren't. I can say the rare occasions I have read his blog (and saw my 2nd video of his) any shoes he reviews are typically all exceptionally good. I doubt that all shoes could be exceptionally good, but I suppose I'm not as lucky as he is 😉.
 

BomTrady

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Was under the impression leather was never "THE cost" of shoe, it's like $500 tops to make a pair? Like the guy who charge $1.5k and $6k probably have the same "raw cost" (ignore rent/labor/time etc., just pure material)?

edit: as speaking from someone with zero insider knowledge...

edit2: shoe and suit are different ball game, but you can buy the "top of the top fabric" well under $1k to make a suit, but that's not the cost, and that's also not why you pay Ciffonelli a lot more than you pay whoever else charge MtM at $1.5k

edit3: and speaking it's a different ball game because it seems like a lot easier to source fabric (and you don't need to worry about "bad cuts") than source good leather for whatever reason
You may be right. You know more about this than I do for sure, so I would defer to you. But as little as I know, I can tell you that there is a big difference in leather quality between shoes. And I don't think it comes down to merely cost. Access has a lot to do with the calculus. My understanding is that there isn't an unlimited supply of top-notch leather to go around and bigger shoe makers like Lobb, for example, sometimes are able to source the best hides, leaving the less desirable hides for others. Even if they can pay, they may not have access. Also, maybe the hides are marked up a lot in the final price despite the wholesale cost.

I never thought that all the difference in prices in shoes are accounted for by pure labor, although labor has to be a major cost.

Speaking of labor, we've all seen shoes posted on this thread that have awful finishing. And we all politely look the other way, partly because you expect that with a less expensive shoe. As it was explained top me, to keep the cost down some makers are not going to spend the time on QA. They are trying to pump out as many shoes as possible and maybe that's why you hardly ever see discoloration or haphazard stitching on expensive bespoke shoes.
But again, I claim to know only how to wear shoes, not make them And it's seems to be a very complicated industry. I'll be happy to be corrected by anyone who knows better.
 

j ingevaldsson

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I agree about Fukuda. Hands-down. I think I keep asking you this same stupid question in different ways. Maybe I am being overly polite because I never want to offend hard working shoemakers, but where do you rank Acme's leather compared to the best? Also, what's the chance that a maker gives you and Justin and Simon better shoes, with better leather than the average purchaser may get? Maybe I should not be comparing leather between $1,500 shoes and those that cost more than twice as much. And I must say that I love Acme; the fit, the construction, etc. I don't know jack about how to determine leather quality, but the Acme leather definitely isn't the same as Fukuda or Spigolas or even SB's top line, in my opinion. But I consider that you and Justin may have received a higher quality shoe.
When you are up in prices above €1,000 I would say that, in general at least, leather quality is more or less the same. For both RTW and bespoke. They use the best parts of the best hides they can source (so if anything what differs is that in some cases, though mainly for smaller bespoke makers, they can have a hard time sourcing the best material all the time).

And how leather ages, appear and creases differs much more between various types than between brands. All bespoke pairs I have from the same makers have different quality leather. For example, my first Main d'Or was vintage Zonta box, creases normally, not that thick etc. Second vintage Freudenberg which is extremely dense and creases super fine, very small, and shines very easily. Third another Vintage Zonta but from different year, it creases very deeply with quite pronounced creases, and is thicker than first pair's leather.
From Fukuda I have one pair in another younger vintage Freudenberg leather, from just before they closed the German tannery, and it's super thin and creases a lot, I have other pairs that barely creases at all in other types of leather.
And so on. If to talk Acme's leather on my pair is most similar to my third pair from Main d'Or, with quite deep creases, and also shines super easy.
What goes for all is that it's always evident that they only use good parts, and that it's good leathers, but all with different properties. But when you take more than €1,000 you don't do shortcuts on the upper leather (in general), no point in that, since it's a very obvious part.

Regarding if people like me, Justin or Simon get better stuff than others, the short answer is no. The long answer is that I'm sure that most of the brands look over the stuff they send more carefully, and for example if a RTW pair they pick one that don't have any potential small flaw that some pairs might have, etc. But that would go for most of the stuff customers get as well, only that some small things that could be there that would be out to customers would not show up on our table If you understand what I mean.

I've got so many shoes from so many different brands, both cheapest RTW to high end bespoke, I've got stuff I write about both for free and paid full price and written about them, and never have I had something that look very different to what I see they do for others. Remember, almost in all cases I've seen a bunch of other stuff from the same brands, seen it in stores or showrooms, seen it on friends, seen it on people I meet, seen it on trunk shows, and so on. And, I've had a bunch of issues with stuff made for me in cases as well, reasonable ones though, fit challenges with bespoke, flaws on cheap RTW (as often is), and so on. Things are what they are for most. So I can surely say that what we get is not something exclusive that is much better than what customers get, that wouldn't work for so many reasons, and it would have been evident way back if this was the case with customers seeing that stuff we get look way different than what they receive.
 
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clee1982

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I can tell you that there is a big difference in leather quality between shoes.
Completely agree on that, I just think once you go above certain px point, px of leather is not the driver for cost (they all try to go as good as they can get, whether they can get it or not is different story, such a weird supply industry)

edit: Jesper said better and is definitely more knowledgeable on the matter
 
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clee1982

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Good question, in fact, a friend of mine (he is probably one of the first clients of ACME) gave me the same feedback, that ACME's leather is top notch, but still a bit below YF, Aurum, and a couple other tier one makers.

When I read about ACME's review from Jesper, I was also thinking if he may have received a "better" shoes than normal customers. But I guess that'd be hard to find out.
your friend is on here too? would be interested to hear his opinions for sure (Aurum/YF/ACME)
 

clee1982

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well, I should really get on board with AM Aurum some time, though his Aurum px certainly has climb quite a bit since I first know about AM 4~5 years ago...
 

BomTrady

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Completely agree on that, I just think once you go above certain px point, px of leather is not the driver for cost (they all try to go as good as they can get, whether they can get it or not is different story, such a weird supply industry)

edit: Jesper said better and is definitely more knowledgeable on the matter
I agree 100%

Edit: As an example, all my Fukudas have top quality leather - all pretty much identical. I am only judging by how they wear. Maybe I don't know what quality is or feels or looks like (which is likely the source of my confusion) but while my Acme shoes are very nice, they are definitely not the same as Fukuda or SB/Trad or Koji Suzuki, etc. I am pretty sure about that. But to be fair, Acme got caught by C19 and haven't see much duty. But with Acme, you can literally see the handwork with the naked eye. The apron stitching is amazing. You can feel it.
 
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boot_owl

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When you are up in prices above €1,000 I would say that, in general at least, leather quality is more or less the same. For both RTW and bespoke. They use the best parts of the best hides they can source (so if anything what differs is that in some cases, though mainly for smaller bespoke makers, they can have a hard time sourcing the best material all the time).

And how leather ages, appear and creases differs much more between various types than between brands. All bespoke pairs I have from the same makers have different quality leather. For example, my first Main d'Or was vintage Zonta box, creases normally, not that thick etc. Second vintage Freudenberg which is extremely dense and creases super fine, very small, and shines very easily. Third another Vintage Zonta but from different year, it creases very deeply with quite pronounced creases, and is thicker than first pair's leather.
From Fukuda I have one pair in another younger vintage Freudenberg leather, from just before they closed the German tannery, and it's super thin and creases a lot, I have other pairs that barely creases at all in other types of leather.
And so on. If to talk Acme's leather on my pair is most similar to my third pair from Main d'Or, with quite deep creases, and also shines super easy.
What goes for all is that it's always evident that they only use good parts, and that it's good leathers, but all with different properties. But when you take more than €1,000 you don't do shortcuts on the upper leather (in general), no point in that, since it's a very obvious part.

Regarding if people like me, Justin or Simon get better stuff than others, the short answer is no. The long answer is that I'm sure that most of the brands look over the stuff they send more carefully, and for example if a RTW pair they pick one that don't have any potential small flaw that some pairs might have, etc. But that would go for most of the stuff customers get as well, only that some small things that could be there that would be out to customers would not show up on our table If you understand what I mean.

I've got so many shoes from so many different brands, both cheapest RTW to high end bespoke, I've got stuff I write about both for free and paid full price and written about them, and never have I had something that look very different to what I see they do for others. Remember, almost in all cases I've seen a bunch of other stuff from the same brands, seen it in stores or showrooms, seen it on friends, seen it on people I meet, seen it on trunk shows, and so on. And, I've had a bunch of issues with stuff made for me in cases as well, reasonable ones though, fit challenges with bespoke, flaws on cheap RTW (as often is), and so on. Things are what they are for most. So I can surely say that what we get is not something exclusive that is much better than what customers get, that wouldn't work for so many reasons, and it would have been evident way back if this was the case with customers seeing that stuff we get look way different than what they receive.
I think this post hits the nail on the head re: leather quality.

He's not, he speaks highly about the handwork, regarding leather, it's great but not "top".
I’m always doubtful about people who claim to be able to judge the precise degree of leather quality in such a way. Unless they’re the exact same tannage, in fact from the same hide and we can see which parts were utilized, we don’t really have an objective measure. As Jesper explained, high quality leathers can have all different properties and it depends on what you prefer for your shoes.

I make small leather goods on occasion and my view is that the best leather is the right one for the job ie what the customer wants

IMO trying to point out the exact quality level as higher or lower than another maker once you go over ~$1000 is an exercise in futility. It’s as meaningful as somebody saying ‘acme is a bad maker because the fit is bad’ when we all know that everybody has different feet.
 

j ingevaldsson

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I agree 100%

Edit: As an example, all my Fukudas have top quality leather - all pretty much identical. I am only judging by how they wear. Maybe I don't know what quality is or feels or looks like (which is likely the source of my confusion) but while my Acme shoes are very nice, they are definitely not the same as Fukuda or SB/Trad or Koji Suzuki, etc. I am pretty sure about that. But to be fair, Acme got caught by C19 and haven't see much duty. But with Acme, you can literally see the handwork with the naked eye. The apron stitching is amazing. You can feel it.
With one shoe, I would not be able to say much about leather quality, for any brand. You can say that you experience your Acme pair a bit below (according to your preferences) the brands you mention that you have more pairs from, but not more than that.

I have five pairs from Fukuda, all are very different in leather quality (as I explained a bit before). All are good, with pros and cons, but all are very different.
 

clee1982

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Personally I can only see obvious bad leather, but other ones other than long term wear I don’t know how you really feel it.

Like to me AM and EG feels great, sold my EG so it never got the long term wear AM got, but my AM definitely stood the test of time (with my lazy maybe once a year shining) really really well. Also AM does this weird painted box calf but somehow the color stayed there (other than naturally got a bit lighter) vs say my CJ which is just pre tanned box calf that suppose to have color more likely to stay
 

BomTrady

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With one shoe, I would not be able to say much about leather quality, for any brand. You can say that you experience your Acme pair a bit below (according to your preferences) the brands you mention that you have more pairs from, but not more than that.

I have five pairs from Fukuda, all are very different in leather quality (as I explained a bit before). All are good, with pros and cons, but all are very different.
Well, I might be a little obtuse when it comes to leather and quality, but I am certainly not stupid enough to argue with you, that's for sure.
 

j ingevaldsson

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Personally I can only see obvious bad leather, but other ones other than long term wear I don’t know how you really feel it.

Like to me AM and EG feels great, sold my EG so it never got the long term wear AM got, but my AM definitely stood the test of time (with my lazy maybe once a year shining) really really well. Also AM does this weird painted box calf but somehow the color stayed there (other than naturally got a bit lighter) vs say my CJ which is just pre tanned box calf that suppose to have color more likely to stay
Yeah that's quite true, to spot bad leather is easier than trying to define variations between different types of good leathers.

Well, I might be a little obtuse when it comes to leather and quality, but I am certainly not stupid enough to argue with you, that's for sure.
I looked up "obtuse", but still couldn't fully understand what you wrote :D The curse of being Swedish, never fully up to speed :)
 

BomTrady

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Yeah that's quite true, to spot bad leather is easier than trying to define variations between different types of good leathers.



I looked up "obtuse", but still couldn't fully understand what you wrote :D The curse of being Swedish, never fully up to speed :)
Hahaha....I would be foolish to claim I understand any of this even close to your knowledge level. It's one of the most complex businesses I've ever heard about. I don't understand the industry at all and read your articles, podcasts, etc. and those articles of Justin's to try and learn. I completely defer to you; someone who is engaged in this industry more than merely as a hobby. At the end of the day, I really love my Acme shoes. I read your article as I was placing my order and when you mentioned you forgot to add a toe taps, I immediately emailed Oliver, who is a wonderful person with whom to do business. Think about how much a shoe nerd I am. My wife and daughter think it's funny that I listen to shoe podcasts! Hahaha
 

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