The Shoe Snob Blog

June 29, 2017

Written by , Posted in News

Using Lies to Sell Shoes

Dimitri Gomez Bottier Bespoke Darby

a real handmade shoe, done from start to finish with hands and hand gripping tools….no machines

In England, it is a common thing to have a section of commercial advertisements in the back of the style magazines so that brands of all kind can show off a featured product, list its price, how to buy it and a brief description. I always check it out because every now and then you can find some interesting shoes there, sometimes by brands that I have never heard of either. The thing that I have been noticing more and more however, is the use of the term “handmade’ on shoes that are being advertised for less than £300. The more that I see it the angrier that I get as I just find it so upsetting that people have no shame in lying to the public in order to sell their product. What makes it even worse is the fact that naive people believe it, without questioning whether or not a £300 shoe made in Europe could really be ‘handmade’ at that price. A bit of deduction using common sense would tell you that it’s not possible (and Meermin does not count as their shoes are not entirely handmade. Semi handmade and 100% handmade are different, just like having half a million does not make you a millionaire).

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are you able to tell which shoe is handmade and which is not…. can be hard as G&G have such a high standard for their RTW

Gaziano & Girling RTW

What is even worse is the fact that this epidemic is not subject only to the footwear industry, but is has also plagued the suit industry where so called handmade bespoke suits are being sold for £299 (yet the term bespoke means ‘for one,’ when these companies are selling, in actuality, a block (that is used by many) that is then cut down from by your measurements to get the final garments. There are many problems that I have with this new found trend of claiming to have a handmade product when there is nothing handmade about it. First and foremost, it hurts the industry for everyone from the bespoke shoemakers, down to the brands that sell for £200 but don’t claim to be handmade. Because the more that people think that they are getting handmade stuff and the more that undercutting brands can use that term to represent their product, the more that the idea of a real handmade product (or even well made products at £500-£1000) will be lost in a sea of lies and we will thus lose appreciation for real works of shoe art such as many of the beautiful shoes shown in this blog that were actually made by hand as well as blood, sweat and tears (some exaggeration, definitely sweat!)

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How about now? Can you tell which one is actually made by hand and which one only claims to be yet is not in actuality?

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So if a £200 factory made shoe is now considered handmade then what is a £2000 shoe that was actually made by hand? A super-handmade shoe? Give me a break. Just because a skilled worker sits at a machine and physically touches the shoe and guides it through the machine, does not make them handmade! We need distinction for appreciation (and for simple honesty in reality). There is no hate without love, no happiness without sadness, no night without day. That being, how can there be good quality and bad quality if everything is supposedly handmade (which is usually associated with high quality). We can’t. So while I have said this before, and no doubt I will say it a million times more, to all those shoe brands that label their machine-made shoes as handmade, realize that while you might be selling a few shoes as lies to those that don’t know better, overall you are hurting the industry, even yourselves in the long run. There will always be someone to undercut your price and lie even further! We need to educate the consumer, not lie to them….

P.S. one way to tell if a company is lying, check to see if there is stitching in the insole. 99.9% of blake stitched shoes were done by machine. Not to say that it can’t be done by hand, but if done so it is not only very difficult but also very costly. A blake stitched shoe in theory should not be so costly as there are far less steps to making it (by mahcine, versus say GY welting, that has a lot more steps to the production), which is why it does not make sense to ever really do it by hand….

Even a shoe as beautiful as this Carmina brogue above does not hold a light to the Delos shoes below.....the difference between machine made and handmade...and believe me the pics do not do justice to the handmade... (photo of Carmina courtesy of Leatherfoot)

Even a shoe as beautiful as this Carmina brogue above does not hold a light to the Delos shoes below…..the difference between machine made and handmade…and believe me the pic does not do justice to the handmade… (photo of Carmina courtesy of Leatherfoot)

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  • josh

    http://stonehoss.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/what-constitutes-handmade-footewar/ this blog makes the point that factories don’t do handsewn.

    • Antonio garcía Enrile

      It really is much more than that, and this is a complex subject. It can be done by hand “well done” or “very wrong done”.
      The inner materials that form the butt, buttress and bars, should also be made of leather and molded by hand, the cap made of several strands of thread, must also be made by hand “well done”. If you look at the photo of your link, you will see that the point is too long and the thread used is nothing more than a synthetic thread, which is loosened when it is used (so extra work is done, but useless), this is due That many people start to do something like a shoe without having a good master. It’s not all worth
      Best regards

      Enrile

  • claude whalen

    I have purchased both “Made To Measure” Oxxford suits and a two (only two) bespoke suits from the now defunct Sulka store in Chicago. Though I was fully aware of the difference, friends and family couldn’t tell the difference; honestly, the didn’t care either. If you don’t do any research and just buy on a whim, you deserve to be fooled. My suspicion is that people just like to say that they have “handmade” or “bespoke” items for the prestige aspect. They are willing to go along with the lie because it helps their status.

    • TheShoeSnob

      yes you are right, unfortunately as egotistical creatures, we feel good about one upping others or saying that we have this or we have that, which is also part of the problem. It’s precisely why designer companies do so well even when many of their products are poorly made, the prestige that the brand has built is enough to make people want to flaunt them….it’s sad in my opinion….

  • Anand Shah

    interesting article Justin. As the poster before me points out most men are not interested in the details of shoe construction, or suit construction, for that matter. In a market where most consumers are ignorant for want of a better word, companies are going to stretch the truth, use hyperbole and misleading language to gain market share unless they have high moral standards (this self imposed principled business practise seems to have evaporated in the uk perhaps with the rise in aggressive business practise combined with aggressive marketing and pr over the last couple of decades

    • TheShoeSnob

      yes you are right, companies are more obsessed with making the sale, saying no matter what to do so, instead of educating the customer and possibly losing a sale while doing so….

  • André Simha

    Totally agree Justin, however as another poster pointed out, it’s really all up to the prestige provided one is paying what the footwear is worth. This is where it gets tough because, from my experience of brining friends to “real” shoe shops or higher-end brands, not many can tell the difference (apart maybe from the original aspect) nor are they prepared to spend thousands for a pair of shoes. As I might have mentioned I am an unconditional of Shell Cordovan simply because I know it is shell, I love the aspect, the smell and the texture, but nobody else knows unless they are also into this type of “leather” (which it is not actually!). That having been said I totally agree with you and there should be a legislation to that effect – like that is going to happen some day :-).

    • TheShoeSnob

      one day at a time, it will happen. I will keep pounding it in the head and calling out those that lie….slowly but surely….

  • There is a handmade shoe company in America CYDWOQ — https://cydwoq.com. I have a colleague who bought a pair and loves them. I have looked at them and they very much appear handmade, there is not the precision you would get from a machine. I would be curious to hear what The Shoe Snob thinks.

    They are pretty reasonable as far as high end shoes go and have been designed to have a slightly rounded bottom, which is supposed to make it easier and more comfortable to walk in.

  • johnnyglaze

    I have learned to up my game as I get older and I am not so rough on shoes. Your insight helps me when I plan on going to Leffot in the village for my next good pair of lace ups.

  • Mike

    The upper Gaziano & Girling shoe is handmade, and the upper loafer ( Bemer) is handmade. Was this the million dollar question!