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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. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Thanks again to DWF for this great thread. I'd like to follow on the rubber-sole question: 1) Why does it hurt the structural integrity of the shoe to build in a rubber sole? Does the rubber respond differently to the stresses of wear over time, such that it and the interspersed leather develop differently and tend to pull apart? Or is it something else.
    Go back to the the bit about all the components working together to make something greater than the sum of the parts but with no component being an expressly weak link. Leather has a temper...a feel and a structural and functional quality...that is like nothing else. When a shoe is made entirely of leather the pieces all work together in harmony so to speak. Rubber soles don't function, or conform, or age ,in the same way as leather does. I have seen, especially in poor quality shoes, where the rubber, as it ages and thins tends to pull apart--to spread. And in doing so it pulls the components of the shoe out of position. So...you have it right and probably said it better than I did.
    No, leather will not absorb the stresses on your knees the way crepe soles will. But crepe is a very different animal than a Vibram dress sole, for instance. Of course crepe...even petro-chemical crepe...will wear faster than leather or Vibram/Dainite/Neolite, etc.. You'll have to stay on top of it or risk losing the shoe. Enough repairs or ruined shoes for lack of repair and bespoke might seem cheap. I am a bespoke maker. I think hand made shoes are almost the epitome of artisanal endeavour (personal opinion). But there is good, there is better, and there is best, and good...even better... quality shoes can be had in RTW. Don't get me wrong.
    You are very welcome.
     
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    What is a side channeled outsole?
    A channel that is cut in from the edge or side of the outsole...I'm not certain that there is even, technically, a term for it, much less "side channeling" but that's what I call it. There was even a machine that did side channeling once upon a time. And numerous hand tools.
     
  3. Wes Bourne

    Wes Bourne Senior member

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    A channel that is cut in from the edge or side of the outsole...I'm not certain that there is even, technically, a term for it, much less "side channeling" but that's what I call it.

    There was even a machine that did side channeling once upon a time. And numerous hand tools.


    = Retro-future next-level shizz. Please do post a pic of this if you have one!
     
  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    = Retro-future next-level shizz. Please do post a pic of this if you have one!
    I have a hand tool...that I use to at least start the channel. But I don't have...don't know of...any photo of the machine--it was a bench-mounted machine, as I understand it.
     
  5. Wes Bourne

    Wes Bourne Senior member

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    Then perhaps you'll indulge us and take a pic of a side channel next time you cut/make one?
     
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Then perhaps you'll indulge us and take a pic of a side channel next time you cut/make one?
    Go back and look at the first page in this thread, I provided several links (on request) of my shoes and boots. The chukkas are side channeled and the semi-brogue derbies are side channeled. (The neo-Jacobite buckle shoes are machine stitched with the oft-hailed vertical channel....took all of five minutes to stitch the pair.) What do you need? A description of my technique? I am not particularly reticent about theses things as you might have noticed. [​IMG] And I can easily post a photo of the hand tool. And no disrespect intended (sincerely), but you don't know much about shoemakers or the Victorians who came up with endless variations of these ideas if you don't understand that combining the working end with a serrated drive roller and a crank to turn it would be child's play.
     
  7. Wes Bourne

    Wes Bourne Senior member

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    Will look at those pics as you suggested. Honestly, I don't think anyone here had even heard of the term side channeled until you mentionned it... with the possible exception of bengal-stripe. I was confused as I thought the term side channeled implied a contrast/difference with (vertical/top-bottom?) channeled.
     
  8. Groover

    Groover Senior member

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    When it becomes "disrespectful" to point out that certain processes, certain techniques, and certain outcomes are superior to other outcomes, etc....especially when logic and reasons for such assessments are provided and detailed...then the whole concept of quality becomes nearly incomprehensible if not ludicrous.

    And what is "style" if not recognizing quality and hierarchies of quality?


    I assume that was aimed at me?

    Wishing for a constructive debate and continuity of this thread I have a question:

    Based purely on hand made shoes, are there producers of hand made shoes that are using a stitched aloft construction which you're critical of?

    From a personal perspective, if I commissioned a pair of hand made/bespoke shoes I would expect a channeled sole. And, until this thread emerged was not aware of the different 'types' or approaches to channeling, that a hand maker can offer (if skilled in the art of course).

    As to my comment about being disrespectful to those that offer stitched aloft, that was how I perceived your statement towards those that offer that approach, hence my question above. I like many (if not the majority) do not own hand made or bespoke footwear, and yet are constantly reminded how wonderful and 'the best of the best' some RTW manufacturers are. Therefore it's natural to assume that an Edward Green or John Lobb channeled sole is equally as good as something that is hand made. Mainly due to the plethora of information (or over-information) on RTW and yet very little on hand made/bespoke. It is only through the contributions of those like you that enable us mere mortals to see the light through a different lens.
     
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I assume that was aimed at me?
    Not specifically, but your remarks did stick with me.
    Not entirely and I would never single them out any more than I would single out a manufacturer. I'm not offering a critique of makers just a perspective on what tradition and this maker considers quality. Some makers, myself included, offer, implicit or otherwise, the option to have machine stitched outsole or hand stitched outsole. Because of my boot business I have the machine, I can offer a customer a price break if such things as 11spi are not important to him.
    No worries...I apologize if it seemed personal.
     
  10. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Will look at those pics as you suggested. Honestly, I don't think anyone here had even heard of the term side channeled until you mentionned it... with the possible exception of bengal-stripe. I was confused as I thought the term side channeled implied a contrast/difference with (vertical/top-bottom?) channeled.
    As I said, I use the term "side channeled" for lack of a better term. I am not surprised you haven't heard it before. What it comes down to is this...machines make a vertical channel (or they can) from the surface of the outsole; some bespoke makers cut a channel in at an angle from the surface of the outsole; some from the very edge of the outsole; and some, like myself, cut straight in from the edge or side of the outsole and peel that flap back. The machines (and even the hand tool that I have) that did it this way left a pretty thin "flap" of mostly equal substance. I vary this procedure by starting my edge cut about a millimeter below the surface of the outsole cutting inward about a millimeter, and then peeling that back enough that I can continue to cut (by hand and eye) at an angle, so that my stitches will end up about half way through the thickness of the outsole. When I finish stitching, I glue the flap down and when I trim and finish the edge the channel edge is camouflaged in the edge of the outsole and in the wires that result from edge finishing. Hope that helps...sorry for any confusion.
     
  11. Groover

    Groover Senior member

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    Not specifically, but your remarks did stick with me.


    Not entirely and I would never single them out any more than I would single out a manufacturer. I'm not offering a critique of makers just a perspective on what tradition and this maker considers quality.

    Some makers, myself included, offer, implicit or otherwise, the option to have machine stitched outsole or hand stitched outsole. Because of my boot business I have the machine, I can offer a customer a price break if such things as 11spi are not important to him.

    No worries...I apologize if it seemed personal.


    Nothing personal taken.

    The problem as I see it, is that true hand made is (from my perspective) so rare these days that we're almost conditioned to accept factory made/RTW/mass prodcued (call it what you will). Hence my comment about the comparisons of stitched aloft/channeled, whereas it (wrongly on my part) was about comparing handmade vs factory made, which it would be disrespectful to the former to compare, no offence was meant. That's why I was curious to know if there are hand makers stitching their soles as described.

    On another level, do you feel these skills will eventually die out?
     
  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    On another level, do you feel these skills will eventually die out?
    Not if I can help it!! This is also my creation...with a lot of help from my friends.
     
  13. Groover

    Groover Senior member

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    Thanks for the link. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to tour a Northampton factory. I was shown a machine that cut the sole in preparation for a channeled sole, I'm fairly certain this piece of equipment is common amongst those in Northampton that offer a channeled sole, is this a piece of equipment you've seen/used?: [​IMG]
     
  14. Xiaogou

    Xiaogou Senior member

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    I'm sold.

    Although I will say at age 47, having worn RTW shoes all my life, I am not yet crippled.


    - B


    Amazing things happen when you spread the wear over ~ 300 pairs of shoes. [​IMG]
     
  15. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Senior member

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    Amazing things happen when you spread the wear over ~ 300 pairs of shoes. [​IMG]

    That, and one of these:

    [​IMG]


    - B
     
  16. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Thanks for the link. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to tour a Northampton factory. I was shown a machine that cut the sole in preparation for a channeled sole, I'm fairly certain this piece of equipment is common amongst those in Northampton that offer a channeled sole, is this a piece of equipment you've seen/used?:
    Great! There you go...there's a photo of the machine I was talking about. The one I was thinking of was probably an earlier version...I seem to recall seeing a lithograph somewhere...but all I had really seen before was a shoe that had been channeled using a machine like this one. As far as I know, this machine cuts a channel in from the side at a pre-set depth and entirely parallel to the surface of the outsole. Cutting too deep into the substance of the outsole makes it very difficult to keep the channel cover upright when the outsole is being sewn. So...as I think someone mentioned about another Northampton maker...most of the time a channel cut like this is pretty thin. And in truth affords less protection for the stitches than even a properly cut vertical channel. It is better looking than a vertical channel, however, and will fool the uneducated eye into thinking it is a hand cut channel. I took some photos today and will post them to illustrate how I do it and how this same concept--channeling in from the edge or side--can be made much more protective.
     
  17. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    This first shot is of the hand tool I use for cutting a channel in from the edge. I only use it to begin the cut. [​IMG] This next shot is of the channeler in action... except my hand is not holding the tool. In use, the hand grips the tool like a dagger and downward pressure is applied to the grain surface of the outsole and the tool is pushed forward and around the toe. Of course this is all done after the outsole has been mounted on the shoe and trimmed to the welt and size. [​IMG] Below is the beginning of the channel has been cut and partially opened. The view is from the edge of the outsole. [​IMG] Below the channel has been cut, at an angle, by hand with a very basic hand held shoe knife and then fully opened. The channel cover is wedge shaped--thicker further from the edge. That means that the channel is deeper further from the edge. [​IMG] Below: here the channel has been closed back up. It will be further burnished to close it to near invisibility, left to dry and "set" and then glued shut. it will be almost impossible to detect at that point. [​IMG] When ink and wax is applied and heat burnished into the edge there will be no sign of the channel at all.
     
  18. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    The other way I know to hand channel the outsole is a surface cut. I have seen it begun (and done it) right from the very corner of the grain surface and seen it done as a simple angled incision made at varying distances from the edge. I do it a little differently. I make a vertical cut very close to the edge...maybe one millimeter and I cut down about the same amount. Then I cut at an angle. all of this is done more or less by eye and,again, with a simple shoe knife. This is the start...this shallow incision will be opened as much as it can be and the angled cut begun. [​IMG] Below the channel has been cut and is opened. [​IMG] And finally, below is the shot of the channel closed. Again it will be rubbed to close it up very tightly and allowed to dry. Then glued shut. The little "retaining wall" will be subsumed in the bevel that is produced by edge trimming. Nothing wrong with this way of doing it except that sometimes the edge of the channel can be a little erratic if done as a simple piercing of the surface and sometimes trimming the outsole can leave the edge both a little thin and a little exposed...so the channel has a tendency to perhaps come open a little sooner. Bear in mind that this is my experience and since I have chosen to channel in from the side I have not mastered doing it this way...perhaps all my concerns could be addressed by more experience with this technique and more skill. [​IMG] Both techniques leave the thread deeply embedded in the outsole and should provide generous wear before the threads are ever exposed.
     
  19. greekgeek

    greekgeek Senior member

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    A big thank you to the OP for taking the time to share his insight into the shoe trade. Good stuff.

    One comment I have is that not all stitched aloft shoes are without channels. I think the norm is to have an open channel to protect the threads. Function for the open channel seems much the same as for closed channel but without the artistry.
     
  20. Fishball

    Fishball Senior member

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    I have a video to show how a HK shoemaker cut the channel bare hands with just a knife, no other tool. But I don't know how to post it or capture the pics from the video. Any help?
     

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