Industry Secrets Part 2: Production Times
All of those videos you watch about there being 300 steps and shoes staying on lasts for 2 weeks to 30 days are not accurate. It’s like a fictional motion picture showing you something that could be real but is sensationalized to create theater. Frankly, I don’t know why they do it either? I always hated those videos that show you someone clicking by hand and then once the tape stops rolling they break out the pattern cutting and/or stamping machine. It’s just like saying ‘handmade.’ Why can’t machine-made production shoes be seen as good? Why can’t we just tell the real truth instead of fabricating ideas that are not really practiced? All we are doing is harming the industry and the client in reality.
Let’s just look at this logically for a second. Let me break it down for you with an analogy for when I was shining shoes. When I used to offer mirror shines on shoes the work probably took me a total of 1-2 actual hours on a specific pair. But it is the height of stupidity (in act of efficiency) to just do a pair at a time. The smartest way of working is having a row of shoes and doing step by step on each pair one after another. The reason being (like in shoe production) is that the shoe needed to sit/rest after each application so the polish set into the pores of the leather. Therefore, once I was done with that 10th pair, the 1st one was now ready for its second application. Therefore I never lost a second of “production time” through pointless waiting. So at a certain point when I became so busy, I had to start telling the customers that it would take me 2 weeks to have their shoes complete. Did it really take me 2 weeks? No, of course not. But I had 50 other shoes to do first and I never allowed someone to jump ahead of the line. Never. Never sacrifice one customer for another. That’s a bad practice that only leads to a bad outcome.
So when a shoe company tells you that your MTO or new order might take 3-6 months its not that it actually takes that amount of time. Its that you have to sit beyond the queue of people ahead of you. And of course, this timeline is directly correlated to how busy/popular that shoemaker is how big their workforce is. So dont complain about it because just like you, everyone else wants a pair and is patiently waiting.
A shoe can be made in 48 hours, in a factory, or bespoke. Is it best to make it that fast? No of course. It was rushed and not done to its best ability. Realistic shoe production time is maybe 2 weeks. And that is mainly a lot of time sitting on a cart. No one really puts their shoes in a room to “sit on the last” for 15-30 days. That’s laughable. Maybe it spends 2 weeks in the production line and thus on the last. Maybe. The most time spent in those 4-6 months is spent with the upper cut and sewn and sitting in boxes full of uppers. That is about 2 months right there as those uppers wait their turn to enter the queue of production. That is the reality of it. And that is the reality of all production. Not just shoes. But when there are humans involved things inevitably take longer. More mistakes are made and sometimes things need to be repeated. It’s life. It’s business. It’s production.
Don’t complain about it. Accept it. And know that your shoemaker is always trying to make their shoes as quick as they can for you as there is no better marketing than that of a person wearing your shoes on the streets of the world.