The Shoe Snob Blog

September 7, 2016

Written by , Posted in News

Things to Know About Shoes: Part 1 – The First 10

Enzo Bonafe boots found at Skoaktiebolaget

Enzo Bonafe boots found at Skoaktiebolaget

There are many questions that people have about shoes; questions that are not easily found or answered. Here I will try and do my best to answer as many as I can think of from not only many different situations that I have experienced but from simple facts/opinions that I have learned during my time in the industry. Here are the first 10 that I have managed to scrape from my tired, Sunday night mind….I hope that you all enjoy them!

Edward Green

Edward Green

Edward Green

Edward Green

1. A shoe’s leather, no matter the quality, is going to crease. Expect it. If you don’t like creasing, buy suede shoes and stop complaining. To understand creasing better, read HERE. Another educational post about leather, found HERE.

2. Should I use shoe trees? Well this is like asking the rest of these questions:

Should I wash my car? Should I iron my clothes? Should I take daily showers? Should I brush my teeth? Floss? Should I exercise?

I will let you decide for yourself and if you decide that you need them, read HERE.

3. Are my shoes handmade since they so say inside the shoe?

No, that is simply a marketing lie to get you to buy the shoes. Most (about 99%) of Ready to Wear shoes (off the shelf and ready to buy as quick as you can whip out your credit card) are made in a factory by workers who know how to work a machine that then makes your shoes. It is not handmade simply because a hand touches the shoes and guides them through the machine. The exception, of course, is if your shoes are bespoke or made by Vass (among very few others) which are in fact all entirely made by hand (from what I have been lead to believe by trusted sources, have not been to the workshops to see for myself). There is only one machine that is excusable to use for “Handmade” shoes and that is the sewing machine that stitches the upper together. If a shoe is handwelted but then uses a machine to attach the sole, IT IS NOT HANDMADE. I don’t care what anyone says.  A good indication to the first step of your knowing whether or not your shoes are handmade is if they cost over $1500/£1000/€1200. But even if they did, it does not necessarily mean that they were indeed made entirely by hand. A post about real handmade shoes, found HERE.

Gaziano & Girling Bespoke, "Handmade" shoes

Gaziano & Girling Bespoke, “Handmade” shoes

Gaziano & Girling RTW, non " handmade" shoes

Gaziano & Girling RTW, non ” handmade” shoes

4. Are Goodyear Welted or Blake Stitched shoes better?  Is a Bentley better than a Ferrari?

The answer will depend on many factors. There is no definitive yes or no answer. I personally prefer Goodyear welted (and think that they are better), but that is because they suit my needs. Questions to ask yourself to give your yes or no answer to this question:

  1. Do you like the more stiff/supportive type of shoes? Yes, then GY welted is your route. If you like more flexible, soft shoes than Blake stitched is your answer
  2. Do you want to be able to easily resole your shoes or do you prefer to buy a new model once your old ones are done? GY Welted allows for easy resoling. Blake stitched does not. Not that it cannot be done, but most cobblers don’t know how to or don’t have the machinery to do so.
  3. Do you like a more robust looking shoe, a shoe that has some substance? Then GY welted is your answer. If you prefer something more slim-like in silhouette with a thin sole than Blake stitched is your answer.

For more in-depth description of the difference between these constructions, read HERE.

Shoemakers at Stefano Bemer

Shoemakers at Stefano Bemer

5. A shoemaker is not a cobbler. They were 150 years ago when they were two in the same thing but in our time a cobbler is one who fixes shoes while a shoemaker makes them. DO NOT call a shoemaker a cobbler. It is insulting.

87d2fc058481abf4_cobbler

Shoe Repair – cobbler

6. Polish does not condition leather. This is a bad myth. Conditioner conditions/renovates leather.   Polish essentially dries leather out (over time) which is what leads to cracking. You need a conditioner to counteract the negative effects that polish creates.

7. Sticking your finger in the back of your shoe does not mean the shoe is too big, especially if you are doing it while sitting down (and thus your foot not being elongated and arch flattened out). It is so silly when people do this and they look like simpletons when they do. I can push my foot completely forward on my smallest shoes and cram my toes into the elongated toe box and thus stick my finger in the back. There is no way that I could take a half size down though! I can even do it on my bespoke shoes which are tight as hell!

8. Heel slip can be caused by a new heel counter (the stiff bit that keeps the heel in shape) not yet being broken-in. On a good shoe it should soften and thus mould to your heel after a few wears ensuring better fit. It again does not mean that you have the wrong size if your heel is not perfectly locked into place on a new shoe.

Kohji Suzuki Bespoke

Koji Suzuki Bespoke

9. Suede can be worn in the rain. Don’t treat it like a fragile baby. Good suede can take a bit of wear and tear. Cheap suede on the other hand, cannot….. A post about this big misconception found HERE

If you steam and brush your suede every time after wearing, it will last a long time and will look good throughout. Steam it with your kettle or steam iron.

10. Have indented toe taps affixed to your shoes. They don’t make noise like heel taps and they ensure that you don’t have to have a resole (from a worn toe) prematurely.

Indented toe taps/plates

Indented toe taps/plates