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Top 14 list of shoes under $500 for newbies

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Agree that many North American cobblers are unfamiliar with Blake/Rapid. Doubt resoling a midsoled-B/R is more difficult than for GYW, though. Uses the same Rapid stitcher as GYW. And the whole thing's more stable than GYW because of the midsole. In what Bengal described as a single-soled Blake/Rapid (B/R, not Blake), I'm less sure. What I gather is that single-sole B/R must have a real welt (or perhaps a "sole" so thin it's not worth calling a "midsole") which must go as far under the turned-in upper as a true welt does in GYW. You then stick that welt under the turned-in upper. You then glue them (and the insole?) together and then Blake stitch the insole to the upper and the welt. And then you Rapid stitch the outsole onto the welt. So this is more of a real welt, not a fake welt. And unlike standard GYW, it's (assuming a leather insole is used) a real leather-to-leather bond. (I wonder whether this is what Rancourt means by "Blake welted." That would resolve all the confusion over their using that label.) But I guess this could be tougher to resole if you're not familiar with Blake stitching, because that welt needs to be Blake stitched to the upper and insole.

Wish I could find illustrations of single-sole B/R, but can't. So folks will just have to imagine how it hybridizes midsole B/R with welted.

Well the Rancourt is a moccasin construction. It would be what you have pictured (the "U") but upside down. I do agree that the BR method should be easier to resole than the Blake though. I do see your point though since it is similar to Blake. That said, the stitch connection point is on the interior vs the exterior (Blake v GYW). You'd still require a machine to do that resole on the BR & Blake.
 
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BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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@Testudo_Aubreii I will add that Blake has its place. I actually prefer Blake construction for a loafer.
That increased flexibility makes for a more comfortable shoe. Additionally, I don't necessarily need the waterproofness or expect from a GYW'd shoe.
 

acconrad

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Assuming dress shoes, you can start and stop at Vass. Not sure how any company comes close in quality in the sub $500 category. I was honestly debating between Vass and Edward Green along the likes of G&G and John Lobb.
 

Testudo_Aubreii

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Assuming dress shoes, you can start and stop at Vass. Not sure how any company comes close in quality in the sub $500 category. I was honestly debating between Vass and Edward Green along the likes of G&G and John Lobb.
Yes, assuming that Vass are still handclicked, handlasted, handwelted, and (mostly or totally) handsoled (and I have no reason to doubt they still are), they seem one of the best values out there for shoes. Vass's shoe quality/dollar charged ratio would then be one of the best in the world, if not the best. Just look at the difference between a good or fairly good handwelted like Vass and a G&G standard GYW, with all that gemming, canvas, and chain-stitching, as opposed to a handwelted's lock-stitching. And this video of a Carmina being opened to reveal a cardboard-swathed shank is telling.

So Vass wins on shoe quality/dollar charged, if you can get a good fit. IMO, good fit should always beat construction, materials, aesthetics, etc.

BColl said above that Meccariello's Argentum welt (which is not handwelt), seemingly a cut-and-turn Goodyear with a handwelt-thick insole like some J. M. Weston or Bridlen, would do well in a 500-900 USD competition. I'm sure they would against standard GYW from the Northampton makers. The insole is much thicker than Northampton uses. And you stitch through the insole's leather rib, the upper, and the welt. Also, in this case, if I've understood DWF, a lockstitch inseaming machine is used, rather than a chain-stitch machine. The lockstitch would get you closer to a Vass-type shoemaker's handstitch, with wax. By contrast, if Jesper I is right, Northampton often uses chain-stitching for the inseam, but lock-stitching for the outseam/soling.

What I keep wondering is why we don't see more makers offering Blake/Rapid with McKay lockstitching. The machines are out there. And DWF always said that B/R (with a midsole) is almost as durable as handwelted. I sympathize with his crusade against gemming, and I think he spurred a lot of buyers to seek out handwelting. That led to more makers who offer it. All to the good. But a side effect of the revival of handwelting is that Blake/Rapid tends to get sidelined. I think this hurt the many Italian makers who offer(ed) it. Just like Italy has more types of wine grapes than any other country, so it has (or had) the most types of shoe constructions available for easy purchase. Bentivegna, Norvegese, Treccia, B/R with midsole, welted B/R, Bologna...I hope SF, with its Anglophilia (buy Northampton!) and quest for the best (handwelted!) won't let perish methods and techniques that are quite good, but not the best.
 

clee1982

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I thought AM only does handwelt now (covid, machine break, too much hassle to get it fixed post Brexit, kind of an Italian answer)?
 

Testudo_Aubreii

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I thought AM only does handwelt now (covid, machine break, too much hassle to get it fixed post Brexit, kind of an Italian answer)?
Could well be. The current Argentum Welt page where the method is described is vague about how exactly it works. Clearer about how it doesn't work (no glued-on rib). I was basing that on DWF's 2020 post that I linked to, the one about the "Argentum Welt" construction for which AM asked DWF's blessing. I gather that the Argentum page or another used to have a precise description of the method.
 

JohnMRobie

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Could well be. The current Argentum Welt page where the method is described is vague about how exactly it works. Clearer about how it doesn't work (no glued-on rib). I was basing that on DWF's 2020 post that I linked to, the one about the "Argentum Welt" construction for which AM asked DWF's blessing. I gather that the Argentum page or another used to have a precise description of the method.
Clee is correct. Meccariello only offers hand welted shoes now unless you find really old stock (over 3 years old). Even his new “Roma” line which is right around €500 is hand welted.
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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I thought AM only does handwelt now (covid, machine break, too much hassle to get it fixed post Brexit, kind of an Italian answer)?

Could well be. The current Argentum Welt page where the method is described is vague about how exactly it works. Clearer about how it doesn't work (no glued-on rib). I was basing that on DWF's 2020 post that I linked to, the one about the "Argentum Welt" construction for which AM asked DWF's blessing. I gather that the Argentum page or another used to have a precise description of the method.

Clee is correct. Meccariello only offers hand welted shoes now unless you find really old stock (over 3 years old). Even his new “Roma” line which is right around €500 is hand welted.

As Clee & Jmr928 mentioned, due to technical/mechanical issues, the most basic AM line is now HW'd.

That would, imo, make it the best value of any maker available. Sure Vass is cheaper and HW'd, but I prefer AM's lasts, finishing, and leather choices (vintage & a few others options) over Vass.

That's a personal preference though as Vass offers exceptional value, along with EB. The Chinese makers within that price point, three main ones producing (I believe that's right), offer great value but I still prefer AM.

I guess what I'm saying is that AM, within that $500-$900, price point seems a no-brainer. Opinions and preferences will differ I'm sure.
 

stewartu

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Santoni is massively underrated. Their leathers and styles are all first rate.
Testoni is another that gets huge respect in Europe but is under the radar in the USA. Both brands are excellent.
 

JohnMRobie

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Santoni is massively underrated. Their leathers and styles are all first rate.
Testoni is another that gets huge respect in Europe but is under the radar in the USA. Both brands are excellent.
This has not been my experience other than their Goodyear line. Regular santoni and Fatte a Mano are pretty meh, particularly for the price.
 

Proleet

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Santoni is massively underrated. Their leathers and styles are all first rate.
Testoni is another that gets huge respect in Europe but is under the radar in the USA. Both brands are excellent.

ive owned like 10-12 pairs of Santoni, mostly bought in Europe. your comment suggests you’re also US based. Santoni’s US offering is terrible value for money. rubber soled shoes (with great leather yes) for $ 700-800.…Their proper offering are absurdly expensive in the US. Are good deals to be had? Sure but their general offering in the US really isn’t.
 

clee1982

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but even their goodyear stuff is just "fine", given how much goodyear stuff is out there these days they're kind just meh?
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Santoni is massively underrated. Their leathers and styles are all first rate.
Testoni is another that gets huge respect in Europe but is under the radar in the USA. Both brands are excellent.

This has not been my experience other than their Goodyear line. Regular santoni and Fatte a Mano are pretty meh, particularly for the price.

ive owned like 10-12 pairs of Santoni, mostly bought in Europe. your comment suggests you’re also US based. Santoni’s US offering is terrible value for money. rubber soled shoes (with great leather yes) for $ 700-800.…Their proper offering are absurdly expensive in the US. Are good deals to be had? Sure but their general offering in the US really isn’t.

To @Proleet's point about Santoni's being underwhelming given their pricing, I'd have to agree.

The leathers are really good. I couldn't argue that point, but if I can purchase Meccariello for a similar price point (which I can) I would. I'd retain high quality leather, but I'd also receive the best craftsmanship available (given his shoes are being HW'd at the moment).

Testoni is even more questionable given the mystery about their craftsmanship.

That said, if folks like both Santoni &/or Testoni..if they like the fit and feel.. who am I to disagree. An individual should purchase what they like and what they believe looks good.

Would I personally recommend either of those brands given the availability and accessibility of other brands at these prices, no.
 
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Leisten

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Are there still different lines of Testoni? I have a pair of suede brogue boots and can't see a stitching at the bottom-sole or inside the shoe.

There is something like a "fake stitching" at the sole but thats just the design of the rubber sole.

They were at sale and I can't find this model anywhere else.
They fit me very good and look good. Is this their usual construction method or is this just a cheap, glued pair? The sole looks like a Dainite.
 

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