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what makes a good shoe and why they cost so much

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by DWFII, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. emptym

    emptym Senior member Moderator

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    Earlier today I found this video about DW. Very well made and interesting. It's a few years old. I'd say both he and his wife have actually grown much more handsome over that time. After I watched the video, I showed it to my parents and other relatives. It helped them understand why I would spend so much money on a pair of shoes. They said the intelligence, passion, and effort depicted in the video made them appreciate DW's boots and hand-crafted goods in general.
     
  2. alladin

    alladin Senior member

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    Thanks for the video.
     
  3. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Earlier today I found this video about DW. Very well made and interesting. It's a few years old. I'd say both he and his wife have actually grown much more handsome over that time. After I watched the video, I showed it to my parents and other relatives. It helped them understand why I would spend so much money on a pair of shoes. They said the intelligence, passion, and effort depicted in the video made them appreciate DW's boots and hand-crafted goods in general.
    Yeah, that's been a couple of years ago now...five years, I guess. Funny thing is that they spent 7 hours in the shop, most of it filming. And they cut it down to that 7 minutes. Of course, that was always in the cards as that's how long they allot for a clip, but it is still remarkable to think that the other six+ hours were necessary to get just this bit.
     
  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I was in C&J (London) today as their winter sale has started. Unfortunately, I didn't buy anything as what I liked was not in my size. The point I wanted to make was, I saw a cross section of their shoes and they use a piece of cardboard/paper under the shank!!!! WTF - I am paying a premium price for a pair of 'all leather' shoes and they use cardboard - not good. I also went into RM Williams and saw their construction cross section and they use a piece of moulded plastic under the shank. At least RM Williams does not claim to be a high end boot maker unlike C&J. I'd be interested to know if there is any logical reasoning for using cardboard in shoe making and if this practice is used by the other high end shoe makers - Edward Green and John Lobb. Also, is shoe construction using brass wire screws better than goodyear welted shoes? Comments appreciated, many thanks.
    Well, to me that's one of those false economies that only underscore the shortsightedness of the factory mentality. These companies generate literally tons of scrap leather in a year. They've already paid for that leather. Yet for some reason they insist on buying a product that is clearly inferior simply to avoid the hassle of collecting and sorting the scraps (for size) and cutting them to fit the waist of the shoe. Admittedly the pennies per for the cardboard may actually save money when compared to the wages to process the scraps. And to be fair, some factories sell their scraps. But the cardboard is a degradation of the shoe. Especially when the shoe is nominally leather. The interesting thing, however, is that below an 8/8" heel height, no shank stiffener is required---at least that's the theory. I don't hold with it, myself, but I've heard it all my life. So they just fill in that area with a chunk of pressed cardboard called a "cottage." But again they could just as well fill the area in with the same cork they use for the forepart on Goodyear welted construction. But the cynical part of me suspects it would be too close to an outright admission that they have thrown out all pretense of traditional quality. Of course, the more discriminating owner already knows that. But then there are plenty of folks who don't want to know. The plastic cottage is usually bonded to a metal shank even if it is flimsy. But again it's there because the hassle of making a leather cottage is just too time consuming. Brass wire or brass screw construction is most often used in conjunction with Goodyear or Fairstitched construction. It is not generally used as the only means of attachment. And in my opinion, it should not be.
     
  5. makewayhomer

    makewayhomer Senior member

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    DFWII - do you have any familiarity with RM Williams construction / opinions on it?
     
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    DFWII - do you have any familiarity with RM Williams construction / opinions on it?
    I don't know much about R.M. Williams boots...I've never had the opportunity to handle a pair. But that said, even if I did I try very hard not to single out any company or maker.
     
  7. srivats

    srivats Senior member

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    Earlier today I found this video about DW. Very well made and interesting. It's a few years old. I'd say both he and his wife have actually grown much more handsome over that time.

    After I watched the video, I showed it to my parents and other relatives. It helped them understand why I would spend so much money on a pair of shoes. They said the intelligence, passion, and effort depicted in the video made them appreciate DW's boots and hand-crafted goods in general.


    That's a grat video. Thanks for posting that!
     
  8. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Cool video.
    THX!
     
  9. marin

    marin Senior member

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    What a great video. Thanks, DFWII, for taking the time to share your craft and points of view with us!
     
  10. CunningSmeagol

    CunningSmeagol Senior member

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    Loved the video. Expect a flood of orders for pre-1920s lace up boots. Anachronism being our charge.
     
  11. CunningSmeagol

    CunningSmeagol Senior member

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    I usually topy my wet weather and "heavy" shoes, but others I like to leave alone. If it's a thin soled shoe which has worn down, a topy can be a cheap remedial measure by building up the sole a little and generally cleaning up the shoe. toe taps are more of an issue for me - i hate scuffing and thining around the toe, it really ruins the look of the shoe. it's a crime to topy any shoe with a bevelled sole.

    I like the look of scuffing and wear, even around the toe. I rarely if ever use edge dressing. Why are we talking about topys anyway, when we all have several dozens of shoes anyway, all of which are basically new, and will forever be?
     
  12. RIDER

    RIDER Senior member

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    I told you all he knew what he was talking about, didn't I?

    Still have SOME issues with lumping all factories into one pot - clearly not true - but all in all a great thread with accurate info.

    Also, cut up one of my boots recently....hope to get some time over New Years to take pictures and will probably destroy an Alden and a A/E from current production just to update the components, etc. The boot will give a real good Rapid demo.

    Now, if DW would send me one of his boots to bandsaw, that would be great! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I told you all he knew what he was talking about, didn't I? Still have SOME issues with lumping all factories into one pot - clearly not true - but all in all a great thread with accurate info. Also, cut up one of my boots recently....hope to get some time over New Years to take pictures and will probably destroy an Alden and a A/E from current production just to update the components, etc. The boot will give a real good Rapid demo. Now, if DW would send me one of his boots to bandsaw, that would be great! [​IMG] [​IMG]
    At one point in my career, that wouldn't have been much of a problem. My teacher told me I'd throw away my first ten pair of boots...I have probably thrown away twice that many, especially in the early years. At one point, I literally cut a pair in half from toe to heel. I might even have that still sitting around somewhere. But it really doesn't show much in terms of the way a boot is put together or the techniques that elevate it above more commercial examples. And truth to tell, my work was nothing to crow about in those days. They were stout, though, I'll give 'em that. [​IMG]
     
  14. srivats

    srivats Senior member

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    I told you all he knew what he was talking about, didn't I?

    Still have SOME issues with lumping all factories into one pot - clearly not true - but all in all a great thread with accurate info.

    Also, cut up one of my boots recently....hope to get some time over New Years to take pictures and will probably destroy an Alden and a A/E from current production just to update the components, etc. The boot will give a real good Rapid demo.

    Now, if DW would send me one of his boots to bandsaw, that would be great! [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Ron, thanks so much for doing this for us.
     
  15. Mr. Walter Trent

    Mr. Walter Trent Well-Known Member

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    Also, cut up one of my boots recently....hope to get some time over New Years to take pictures and will probably destroy an Alden and a A/E from current production just to update the components, etc. The boot will give a real good Rapid demo.

    Now, if DW would send me one of his boots to bandsaw, that would be great! [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Looking forward to your pictures and comments. I'm sure DW will be more than willing to show us how things should be done.
     
    1 person likes this.
  16. fritzl

    fritzl Senior member

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    Still have SOME issues with lumping all factories into one pot - clearly not true - but all in all a great thread with accurate info.

    vice versa, people call their machine made shoes high end and what not. [​IMG]
     
  17. youngScholar

    youngScholar Senior member

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    This thread needs to be pinned.

    DW, your work is "knowledge work" no less than anything else. It saddens me that it has been pushed to the margins the way it has.
     
  18. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    This thread needs to be pinned. DW, your work is "knowledge work" no less than anything else. It saddens me that it has been pushed to the margins the way it has.
    Naw, it's no big deal. My writing style is a little old-fashioned and formal but I'm too old to think that it is of any real significance in the larger scheme of things. (sometimes I wonder if the larger scheme if things is significant in the larger scheme of things). Some people will enjoy it, some will dismiss it and some will, for lack of focus, play off it. It's all one. But thank you for the thought, anyway.
     
  19. thizzface

    thizzface Senior member

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    DW-

    great thread, i just went through al fourteen pages. can you explain a little about how the waist of the sole is sometimes bevelled creating a spine? it is a feature that i've seen on lobbs and some bespoke shoes. in some cases the the shoes have a channeled welt on the front of the shoe and have the waist area welted aloft.

    how is this look achieved, is this area shaped by hand?

    http://www.styleforum.net/attachment...1&d=1264349430
    [​IMG]
     
  20. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    DW- great thread, i just went through al fourteen pages. can you explain a little about how the waist of the sole is sometimes bevelled creating a spine? it is a feature that i've seen on lobbs and some bespoke shoes. in some cases the the shoes have a channeled welt on the front of the shoe and have the waist area welted aloft. how is this look achieved, is this area shaped by hand? http://www.styleforum.net/attachment...1&d=1264349430
    I am not sure exactly what you are describing in that last sentence but going on the attachment I would comment... The forepart looks to be channeled very nicely. While this is not a guarantee that the shoe has been sewn by hand, it is an indication that someone did put some extra effort into it. The waist on the other hand looks like it might have been done by hand or at least partially so. When the outsole is sewn by hand in the forepart it may be done anywhere from 8-12 or even as many as 16 stitches per inch. These would all fit into the category of top shelf work with 16spi being more of an ideal these days than a reality. To prepare the shoe for a fiddleback and beveled outsole...the way I was taught and the way it is traditionally done...is first, to feather and channel the insole a little deeper in the waist area--meaning further in from the edge. Then the welting is done...usually by hand. Then a leather "cottage"--essentially a sharply ridged cover for the metal shank (if there is one)--is built and put in place. This creates the foundation for the fiddleback. Then the outsole is fitted and trimmed pretty close to the final width in the waist area. The fleshside of the outsole in the waist area is then skived or pared down to about half the thickness of the forepart. When the outsole is mounted and the forepart sewn, a channel is cut around the forepart such that when it is closed back up all evidence of the stitching will be gone. All the stitches are dropped/buried in the channel. A similar channel is cut in the waist area...perhaps a bit deeper or further in than the forepart channel is cut. The sewing in the waist is generally lengthened to 5spi and again concealed in the channel. Because the insole feather has been cut further in from the edge, the welt will sit further under the insole. That in turn allows a maker to set the stitches well under the visible margins of the waist. Then the welt in the waist is trimmed quite close to the upper leather. The cottage is the foundation for the fiddleback, the skiving creates the bevel, and the trimming gives the result a sleek and elegant look that could not otherwise be achieved.
     

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