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**The Official Shoe Care Thread: Tutorials, Photos, etc.**

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Mr. Moo, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I don't care for the Austro-Hungarian look for the reasons I gave above. You can call that a subjective opinion but in fact tighter stitches actually hold things together better than long stitches. And of course they are...always...a hallmark of the makers dedication and his search for finesse and excellence, if only because they take markedly more time and skill.

    Beyond that, I've not seen a Japanese make who has done the kind of work that once was the signature of the great British makers where 18 to the inch was considered "middling work."

    And having said that, the best of the Japanese makers are undoubtedly in the very top tier. There is a commitment to quality and perfection among the Japanese makers that I admire and do not think is common in the West anymore.
     
  2. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Well at 6 SPI outsole stitching isn't anywhere close to top notch. I can find a handful of OEM doing better by hand.



    SC insoles are not pre cut...
     
  3. venividivicibj

    venividivicibj Senior member

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    that is of course if you define top notch shoes as defined solely by SPI....
     
  4. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    It's not the definitive measure but it's one of the most apparent ones asides from upper leather used. Vass sole stitching is great, but definitely nowhere close to top notch.
     
  5. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Does this depend on the application of what is being stitched? I recall our brief exchange on the "ticket book" effect. Is that only reserved for softer leathers and denser leathers this doesn't apply as much?
     
  6. sstomcat

    sstomcat Senior member

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    Its not about whether you care or not but there is no denying the fact that Austro Hungarian tradition has been around for centuries and has evolved over a period of time and thrived or thriving because of a reason...
    With the topic of shoes in general and not going into the classification of formal (oxford), derby and so on I dont think tight stitches looks good in every aspect on every shoe. Certain models mostly derby's in some lasts that Vass makes (3636 etc) need a more rugged look and will look odd to borderline ugly with 16 spi stitches.
    Again, this is subjective and personal preference somemight say.

    As to your point of more spi the better there is a point of diminishing returns, more fine means also more holes in the welt, outer and sole and with movement flexing this will lead to abrasion and cutting leading to more wear and tear,

    Look wise yes on a formal oxford or derby in the sleek lasts it definitely looks more appealing just as the Japanese have demonstrated loud and clear.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. sstomcat

    sstomcat Senior member

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    Where did you see them mentioned as top notch? Ofcourse there is no point comparing a 500$ shoe with you 5K GG and call them below par.

    What about other things that your RTW shoes claim that are top notch?
     
  8. sstomcat

    sstomcat Senior member

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    In same vein the stitching of your bespoke work is not even close to the Japanese top tier makers that I have seen which I would categorize as truly world class.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Yes, of course. It also depends on the substance and temper of the leather. Once upon a time the leather was good enough and the makers skilled enough that 50+spi ("64 to the inch")was not only possible but considered the gold standard for prize work. I suspect 6 to the inch would have been laughed out of the exhibition hall. Maybe even 10 to the inch would have been




    Well, I'm not sure the documentation is there to support that assertion. Not saying it isn't true but there is ample documentation of fine welt stitching in the literature and Art. I've never seen long stitches on shoes...even East European shoes...prior to the second World War. I suspect the AH Tradition...if you can call it that...relates more to privation than any consideration for best practices.

    I concede that there are people who like the look. Who consider wide expansive gestures to be more "masculine," rugged, what have you, than the less "in-your-face" stitching of classic western European work. And that's their choice...they are entitled to their opinion. I suspect it's all of a piece--if you cannot or will not define excellence in any terms but ostentation, it is likely that the rest of your wardrobe will reflect that same bias. But it kind of reminds me of the fish that when threatened puffs itself up to look twice its real size.

    And that of course is just my opinion.

    It is significant however that among shoemakers it is almost universally accepted that the finer stitching is indicative of more skill and more time and better quality. Only among consumers who elevate style and the superficial above such objective considerations as "substance"--workmanship, technique, materials, etc.--are long stitches and wide gestures meaningful.

    Of course, but the point of diminishing returns isn't anywhere close to 6spi. Today, I'd be nervous at 20spi, perhaps, but I'm not as good as the old guys were nor do I have access to the kind of leather they had.

    And BTW...if you subtract from the equation the use of All Purpose Neoprene cement,12 spi is significantly more waterproof than 6spi. But then it begs the question of why stitch the outsole at all--the cement will almost hold the outsole on by itself.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  10. sstomcat

    sstomcat Senior member

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    Trying to put some context as there seems to be certain misinterpretations, nowhere do I mention stitching and stitching alone is a hallmark of excellence. This all started with which shoe is better made b/w VAss and St C and GG, but quickly morphed into a discussion around number of SPI stitching and which is superior.

    While there is no denying the fact that fine stitching takes more time ,finnese etc, I'm not sure that is always a mandate to term a product as excellent only on this aspect alone. I will not term a shoe as excellent that has 16 spi stitching but inferior leather counters that cracks in due course. We need to look at things holistically rather than pick on just one aspect albeit an important one.

    As I said an formal oxford with fine stitching looks unquestionable better but to apply this across the board for all shoes as universal is IMO questionable.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  11. ShawnBC

    ShawnBC Senior member

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    Hi gents,

    Quick question I'm not sure have been covered in the last 619 pages of this thread.

    When applying a product (be it conditioner, paste or wax, etc.) to a brogue or punched shoe, how does one keep the product from accumulating inside the little holes?

    I have some AE McTavish that have a bad habit of keeping leather conditioner in the brogue holes, thus appearing like white spots all over.

    Surely there must be a trick beside tooth-picking the holes one at a time after lotion application?

    Thanks!
     
  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    You're right of course. But, perhaps not being a shoemaker, you're not seeing the larger picture.

    It takes better leather to do finer stitching. Ipso facto a shoe stitched at 16spi is likely to have better quality leather than one stitched at 6spi. It takes more time...by an order of magnitude...to hand stitch at 12 spi than 6 spi. It takes more skill, a better eye, and a greater mastery of hard to find (or make) tools. It takes a dedication to best practices and finesse and a thought for tomorrow to stitch at 12 spi compared to stitching at 6spi--and if a maker cannot be bothered to slow down and devote himself to doing a difficult task correctly, where it shows, how much less likely is it that he will bring to bear best practices where it doesn't show?

    None of that is definitive of course but for a non-shoemaker they can be remarkably accurate signifiers of quality.

    Just as closed channels on the bottom of an outsole is somewhat of a signifier; or a natural forepart on the outsole.Or folded edges as opposed to raw edges. Small, neat, intact bead rather than leather worms crawling along the topline. Individually pricked up welts rather than fudged welts. Clean, straight cuts on the breast of the heel. Customized, hand channeled insoles vs precut insoles. Hand cut welting rather than pre-bought welting.

    Hand welting vs.GY.... [​IMG]

    :D

    --
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    The obvious solution and one that is invariably in line with manufacturers recommendations is to apply all such products more sparingly. Glopping conditioners, creams or waxes on your shoes is not really a good idea from a shoe care perspective much less aesthetically.
     
  14. sstomcat

    sstomcat Senior member

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    Absolutely true, no arguments here.

    So a little bit of education what is it in a leather quality that allows you to do high spi stitches? Is it the tanning process, quality of hide or something else?
     
  15. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    All those things. The way the animal was raised, the age of slaughter, the kind of tanning and after tanning processes, substance, where the outsoles, vamps, etc., were cut on the hide....

    But the tools are important, as well. IIRC correctly from the Vass book (as well as other sources), the AH school of shoemaking uses a standard sewing awl (or a reasonable facsimile) rather than a square awl to stitch outsole. The sewing awl, having the blade in the horizontal rather than the vertical plane forces longer stitches. In other words, using the awls they use, the way they use them, they couldn't do 10spi if they wanted to.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  16. JezeC

    JezeC Senior member

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    Thanks guys. Really enjoyed the knowledge provided.
     
  17. ShawnBC

    ShawnBC Senior member

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    I don't get it (maybe it's not helping that English isn't my native language). Speaking of my AE McTavish, I'm actually following AE shoe care instructions for this particular leather type, with AE branded products. So I'm guessing I'm in line with the manufacturers recommendations?

    I'm using AE leather conditioner followed by AE saddle soap. Isn't that correct care?
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  18. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Never use saddle soap on your shoes!
     
  19. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Which one? There are quote a few that does tightly stitched demo shoes but not production. And the best of the bunch specialize in their lasts.

    Demo shoes and show pieces can be done in more impractical ways compare to shoes for daily wear.

    At ~6 SPI for Vass, it's crude by most hand sewn standards. But still, Vass has the best value for the money out of all makers.
     
  20. sstomcat

    sstomcat Senior member

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    I have a hard time remembering Japanese names but off the top of my head Masaru Okuyama, Marquess and Fukada do come to mind....

    Secondly, stitching goes with the type of shoe, which I dont think you are relating to. 10- 12 SPI certainly looks cool on an oxford but does that mean it will look great on a Budapester? I feel 6-7 spi looks perfect on these and goes with the flow and dimensions...
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2014

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