Vass bespoke shoes - u last

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by shoefan, Feb 17, 2004.

  1. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    My Vass bespoke loafers (aka slippers) have arrived. Â They are made on the U last, which Vass says is Italian in style. Â The shoes are very nice, with a narrow waist and an attractive line. Â The 'cognac' leather is finished in a medium shine, which I prefer. Â All in all, very nice, though the finish of the leather does not have the elegant patination that distinguishes E Green shoes. Â Certainly a bit more fashion forward than most Green/Lobb shoes, perhaps reminiscent of Berluti's, absent the Berluti finish? Links to various photos of the shoes (I hope): Vass shoes - front view Vass shoes - topview Vass shoes - front and profile Vass shoes - sole view Vass shoes - single shoe topview - note pronounced shaping of forefoot/ball area of shoe
     
  2. friendlyone

    friendlyone Well-Known Member

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    Very nice, Shoefan. And the links worked perfectly.
     
  3. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    Wow, those are gorgeous shoes.
     
  4. TimelessRider

    TimelessRider Senior member

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    Very nice shoefan. The U-last is awesome.

    I am however confused by the use of the word bespoke in this instance, since there is a stock last involved at some point. Would this fall more in the category of MTM?
     
  5. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I hope that shoefan posts about his Vass experience in more detail, but my understanding is that Vass doesn't create their bespoke lasts de novo but rather modify stock lasts based on the measurements that they take. That makes it sort of like an analogue to MTM in the clothing world. Now, I don't really know whether a significantly better fit can be achieved by making lasts from scratch rather than modifying a stock last. Perhaps one of the forum participants who has shoes made by both Vass and the likes of GJ Cleverley or Lobb St. James can offer some insight. I do know, however, that if I ever find myself in Budapest, I'll order some Vass bespokes. And even though I don't usually like slip-ons, shoefan's shoes are beautiful. I hope that the fit is as good as the look.
     
  6. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Originally posted by jcusey:
    Lobb Paris uses "billets" in a rough shape of the foot, which they then carve to make your last. Not exactly modifying a stock last since the billet of wood is just a rough approximation of a foot.
     
  7. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    I was going to find, copy and paste a posting I did at the AskAndy forum in December regarding my Vass visit, but I can't get the @^*#'ing site to work (so what else is new?). So, here goes: The Vass offering is, IMO, somewhere between Bespoke and the Stock Special offerings of Green et al. In my visit, my choice of styles was implicitly limited to the various styles in the Vass line, rather than being a de-novo design developed through conversation with Mr. Vass and his daughter. However, certain options, such as the treatment of the welt, were open to variation. In this regard, I would say the offering is akin to the stock special approach. However, the last used for my shoes was based on the measurement of my feet. Yes, Vass does start with a stock last and modify from there, as opposed to starting with a block of wood; however, it is my understanding that this is pretty common for bespoke makers, particularly, for example, for the US bespoke bootmakers who primarily make cowboy boots. The skills to make lasts from scratch are very rare indeed. Also, my understanding is that the variation in feet is less than that of the body in general, and moreover it is pretty straightforward for a skilled shoemaker to alter a stock last to mirror a customer's feet in all the pertinent measurements. Further, in contrast to a suit, which is not sewn on a form representing the customer's body, the shoe is made on the form (the last); therefore, analogizing the MTM suit to the Vass shoe is, IMO, not really too accurate. [If suits were made like shoes, and a stock body form/model could be modified to exactly mirror the customer's body, then there is no reason per se that, with respect to fit, a MTM suit would be inferior to a bespoke suit; the problem is that suits (a 3D product) are cut from 2D patterns, and the pattern certainly isn't a perfect reflection of the customer's body. Also, note that the pattern for the Vass "bespoke" shoe is made on the modified last before the leather is cut and the shoe is "closed". In this sense, IMO, the shoe becomes more analagous to a bespoke suit than a MTM suit.] That being said, I was somewhat surprised by the fact that the lasts were made starting from stock lasts; Vass' book certainly talks about the bespoke last as being made from stratch. Further,the measurement process was fairly limited in comparison to the Vass book description; the measuring process only involved 4 measurements plus the outliining of my foot and did not include use of a ped-a-graph or even a profile tracing. Note, however, that I also was measured by a UK shoemaker, and he only did a bit more in terms of measurement. Others here and at AskAndy have discussed the measurement process, and there seems to be a significant variation on the measurement process across makers (Lobb Paris seems to be among the more exact in this process, perhaps also Perry Ercolino). In terms of fit, I haven't really worn the shoes much; they seem a tiny bit snug, but will probably loosen up with wear. Also, note that a loafer is the toughest test of a shoemaker's skill, since the fit must be perfect (no laces) and it is difficult to hold the heel in place in a loafer (loafers have a larger opening for the foot -- since you can't loosen laces to enable insertion of the foot into the shoe -- making it harder to hold the heel in place); many bespoke makers will try to dissuade customers from ordering loafers as their first bespoke pair of shoes for this reason. Vass would prefer to have customers try on a pre-finished shoe, but this was not possible given my US residence. I'll report back when I have a better handle on the fit.
     
  8. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    Finally got AskAndy to work. Here is what I originally reported there:
    From a later posting in the same thread:
    The whole thread is here:shoe report link
     
  9. A Harris

    A Harris Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Thanks for the report shoefan..

    One point - Mr. Vass certainly does have the skills needed to carve perfect custom lasts from scratch (it is my understanding that he designs and prepares all the lasts for the RTW shoes for instance.) However, they find it much more efficient and cost effective to use a stock last as a blank when creating your custom lasts.

    If your experience mirror's mine, then they will be a bit tight at first and loosen up to perfect later. Enjoy..
     
  10. TimelessRider

    TimelessRider Senior member

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    Thanks for the detailed report shoefan. I had totally forgotten about orginal report on AskAndy. It's all coming back to me now.
     
  11. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    What you say about US bootmakers is certainly true. I recently ordered a pair of boots from Dave Wheeler, who is one of the best-respected American bootmakers. He uses stock lasts as his base and modifies them based on the client's measurements. I've had an e-mail conversation with Lee Miller, who is another of the best-respected American bootmakers. He does the same thing as Dave Wheeler, and he doesn't know of a single US bootmaker who makes a client's lasts from scratch. I get the idea that the bootmaking world is incestuous -- everybody knows everybody else, and if a well-known maker was making his lasts from blocks of wood, Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Miller would know about it. In any event, I really can't imagine that the quality of fit offered by a Vass bespoke shoe would differ significantly from that of a shoe made on a de novo last for any but those with extremely non-standard feet. That's part of the reason why I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has tried both Vass and Cleverley or Lobb or other makers like that.
     

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