How much??? Craftsmanship and cost.

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Andy Kev.

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I recently inherited a modest sum of money and I decided to do something which I had always fancied but never done because of the cost i.e. get some bespoke shoes made. The reason for this is not vanity but rather the fact that my feet are a bit wider than average and have high insteps. This means a period of discomfort when breaking new shoes in, particularly if they're of the more traditional, formal type. (Actually, it feels as if they're breaking me in.)

A quick dive into the internet showed that the starting prices in London range from more than 4K at John Lobb, which is the most famous bootmaker down to about 2.5k at other places. That's just daft, so I ruled that out and looked a bit closer. I was very surprised to find that Stuttgart has at least six makers of made to measure shoes. I did the rounds and settled on one particular one: a one man operation in what is perhaps the smallest shop I've ever been in. The shoes cost 920 Euros and that for exactly the same job as in the West End. And that seemed to me to be a very good deal. When I put them on I thought that something wasn't right as my feet seemed barely aware of them, rather like putting on a pair of gloves that fit lightly and easily. And to think I've been missing out on that all my life.

The point of all this though is not really the cost or even the fact that it involves shoes (although I do recommend such a service for any fellow wide-footed, high-instepped types - if you can afford it). What I really wanted to mention was something the bootmaker said: in his view craftsmanship of all types has simply vanished from the lives of the overwhelming majority in modern society. I'd never thought of it in those terms and he is, of course, right. In the old days, if you wanted something, you saved like crazy, got the best you could afford and did your very best to make sure you got the longest period of service from it as possible.

Of course mass manufacture changed all that but it also IMO lowered expectations and thus the quality of life. To stick with shoes: if you have more or less standard feet you can get tip top shoes for a couple of hundred quid and it would probably be very difficult for you in purely financial terms to justify going down the bespoke route. The problem is the bottom end of the market: you can buy masses of anything, particularly clothing, at rock bottom prices with the idea in your subconscious that it is probably essentially disposable. I think that this is the area where we all suffer. Cheap tat is often made under more or less slave labour conditions in the far east, we don't get to enjoy, learn about or appreciate real quality and in the long run we end up spending more as we repeatedly replace mass market rubbish. And of course as a result of this craftsmen are becoming a rare breed.

In terms of furniture many of us knock Ikea, although IMO it does have its place. If you're an impoverished student a Billy bookcase might be a life saver. Just don't expect it to survive more than one move. The problem is that if Ikea is all you have ever known, then you're perhaps not likely to make the move up to something of better quality which will last longer.

So to reiterate: Craftsmanship has vanished from the lives of the overwhelming majority and IMO except for the less well off that is doing none of us any good.

Any thoughts?
 

Trevanion

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Even Bill Gates buys Fruit of the Loom clothes.

You might like this new youtube channel by Andy Rawls:
[youtube]epWkrKaNQ5Y[/youtube]

All too often I get the "But I can get a door from Howdens for £300, and you're trying to charge me £600!". I think people confuse between what something mass manufactured is and what something hand made is.
 

profchris

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Clothing and shoes are interesting. As I understand it, it was only in the mid/late 19C that poorer British people ever had clothes that fit. This was because of mass manufacturing.

Previously all clothes were made by hand, so they cost many times as much. Poor people wore second hand clothes that didn't fit.

Craftsmanship is lovely for the rich, but largely inaccessible to the poor.

This is no criticism of your shoes - they sound like a real bargain and will give you great pleasure. But they cost 3 weeks income for someone on minimum wage, so there's no way such a person could afford them.
 

tony_s

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I know a chap who has owned a couple of pairs of Lobb shoes since he was in his twenties, he's now edging up to seventy and they're still going strong despite being worn a lot
 

Rorschach

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tony_s":2tbh8hju said:
I know a chap who has owned a couple of pairs of Lobb shoes since he was in his twenties, he's now edging up to seventy and they're still going strong despite being worn a lot

How many times have they been re-heeled, re-soled and repaired though? A re-heel and re-sole can cost a grand there.
 

Andy Kev.

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profchris":ssc6kxo6 said:
Clothing and shoes are interesting. As I understand it, it was only in the mid/late 19C that poorer British people ever had clothes that fit. This was because of mass manufacturing.

Previously all clothes were made by hand, so they cost many times as much. Poor people wore second hand clothes that didn't fit.

Craftsmanship is lovely for the rich, but largely inaccessible to the poor.

This is no criticism of your shoes - they sound like a real bargain and will give you great pleasure. But they cost 3 weeks income for someone on minimum wage, so there's no way such a person could afford them.
Agreed. At the risk of getting away from craftsmanship and into economics, there comes a point as your income goes up at which you can start saving. It also depends on your inclinations. If you're determined to enjoy quality time in the pub, it will work against your saving. So if you've got any sense you draw a line between the two: you actually save x a week for the pub and y a week for something more special and long term e.g. a suit. Credit is the curse of the less well off and IMO should be avoided except for massive purchases like a house or a car but if you get the latter on credit, it should be the cheapest model you can find which is still mechanically reliable.

If you're on the minimum wage, none of the above applies and ideally ("ideally" because it's often easier said than done) you should be beavering away at your qualifications in order to make yourself more employable and so get a better return on your time.

To get back on track though: I wonder if craftsmen should get together and advertise the benefits of owning high-quality, properly made objects? Get the idea back into public consciousness so people are not thinking only of McDonalds and Primark.
 

Andy Kev.

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Rorschach":1tp42822 said:
tony_s":1tp42822 said:
I know a chap who has owned a couple of pairs of Lobb shoes since he was in his twenties, he's now edging up to seventy and they're still going strong despite being worn a lot

How many times have they been re-heeled, re-soled and repaired though? A re-heel and re-sole can cost a grand there.
But that is just a matter of West End rip off. Decent shoe repairs can surely be had all over the place for a fraction of that price.
 

heimlaga

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With that foot shape you should look at Finnish made Sievi shoes. They specialize in work boots made on a very wide last but as a sideline they make one or two models of more formal shoes on the same wide last.

I have that sort of feet myself and I have tested many sorts of shoes....... Sievi are the only good ones. Jalas work boots are tolerable though not as good. I haven't bought any other make in the last 10 years because they just don't fit.

My girlfriend has even wider feet and higher instep for her size and she preferes to wear Swedish made Lundhags walking boots on almost all occasions year round. They are very comfortable she says..... and as a side effect of wearing wide and comfortable shoes she has very healthy and strong feet compared to most women.
So..... you dont necsessarily need to go the bespoke route......

By the way...... Factory made shoes from the Nordic countries are often much wider and have a higher instep than imports from southern and central Europe...... They say it is because we natives up here are genetically predisponed for wide feet and high instep.
Maybe you have some viking ancestry :wink:
 

Rorschach

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Andy Kev.":1qdo2k1d said:
Rorschach":1qdo2k1d said:
tony_s":1qdo2k1d said:
I know a chap who has owned a couple of pairs of Lobb shoes since he was in his twenties, he's now edging up to seventy and they're still going strong despite being worn a lot

How many times have they been re-heeled, re-soled and repaired though? A re-heel and re-sole can cost a grand there.
But that is just a matter of West End rip off. Decent shoe repairs can surely be had all over the place for a fraction of that price.

If you own Lobb shoes you don't go to Timpsons to get them re-soled.
Anyway, even a good independent will still charge a couple of hundred to repair an expensive pair of shoes like that, if nothing else they need to cover their backs if they damage anything. Over 50 years I am sure the repair charges were more than the original shoes.
Also bear in mind 50 years ago Lobb shoes were not as expensive comparatively as they are today. They had more workers, they had much more competition and fashion wasn't driving up the price.
 

tony_s

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"How many times have they been re-heeled, re-soled and repaired though? A re-heel and re-sole can cost a grand there."

No doubt many times, but that's the point- they can be re-soled many times. How much this chap may have paid, I don't know but he's not the type to pay a grand (he has a large family now, which he didn't have when his father bought him these shoes many years ago )
 

deema

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Sounds like a really good treat and probably a shrewd investment. May I ask, where did you get the shoes from?
 

Chris152

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Rorschach":39n04tqd said:
tony_s":39n04tqd said:
I know a chap who has owned a couple of pairs of Lobb shoes since he was in his twenties, he's now edging up to seventy and they're still going strong despite being worn a lot

How many times have they been re-heeled, re-soled and repaired though? A re-heel and re-sole can cost a grand there.

"Look after your broom."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAh8HryVaeY
 

Andy Kev.

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deema":6mie8orm said:
Sounds like a really good treat and probably a shrewd investment. May I ask, where did you get the shoes from?
I got them from this chap:

https://freshshoes.de
https://freshshoes.business.site

The second link is a bit more informative about the bespoke service.

I picked them up yesterday and gave them their first proper trial this morning by walking about three miles instead of the usual 300 yards to the bakery. They felt great yesterday but now they feel as if I've had them for years.
 

Andy Kev.

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heimlaga":3tu86szp said:
With that foot shape you should look at Finnish made Sievi shoes. They specialize in work boots made on a very wide last but as a sideline they make one or two models of more formal shoes on the same wide last.

I have that sort of feet myself and I have tested many sorts of shoes....... Sievi are the only good ones. Jalas work boots are tolerable though not as good. I haven't bought any other make in the last 10 years because they just don't fit.

My girlfriend has even wider feet and higher instep for her size and she preferes to wear Swedish made Lundhags walking boots on almost all occasions year round. They are very comfortable she says..... and as a side effect of wearing wide and comfortable shoes she has very healthy and strong feet compared to most women.
So..... you dont necsessarily need to go the bespoke route......

By the way...... Factory made shoes from the Nordic countries are often much wider and have a higher instep than imports from southern and central Europe...... They say it is because we natives up here are genetically predisponed for wide feet and high instep.
Maybe you have some viking ancestry :wink:
I had a pair of Lundhags when I was in the army! That was during my brief flirtation with arctic warfare. Can't for the life of me remember what happened to them though.
 

Lonsdale73

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I'll bet I don't need to tell those trying to earn a living from woodwork that there's very little appreciation of craftsmanship these days, nor the time put into acquire it or time spent using it in creating something.

I'm neither a pro woodworker nor a cobbler but I know full well from my own line of work that when it comes to quality or cheap, cheap wins every time! I'm a photographer and if I had a pound for every time someone has held up a smartphone or tablet and insisted they can get the same result with that as I can from the serious pro gear I shelled out so much money for then I would have made far more from that than I have from actual photo sales! I was at an event last week with a number of smartphone and tablet users hanging off my shoulder and I cold see some of the distinctly mediocre shots they were taking. One made it on to social media with the comment 'Best photo ever!' - it's underexposed, blurred and the subject occupies about 6% of the total image area but it was free so that alone is enough to warrant its Best Photo Ever status. To cover this event, I left home before 7am, got back around 6.30pm. I spent the rest of the evening processing and uploading the images, finishing just before midnight. I've taken around £60 in sales, not even minimum wage.
 

Geoff_S

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The problem with craftsmanship is you pay hundreds if not thousands of pounds for the many, many hours of craftsmanship, and not the item produced.
 

Rorschach

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Geoff_S":37clqof8 said:
The problem with craftsmanship is you pay hundreds if not thousands of pounds for the many, many hours of craftsmanship, and not the item produced.

In some cases though, such as Lobb shoes, you are paying thousands for the name, the history and the fashion.
 

llangatwgnedd

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tony_s":bhid36zp said:
I know a chap who has owned a couple of pairs of Lobb shoes since he was in his twenties, he's now edging up to seventy and they're still going strong despite being worn a lot
Triggers broom springs to mind.lol
 

tony_s

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Have a look at just about any interiors magazine (with the exception, maybe, of World of Interiors) and you'll soon see that what was once called "good" photography is now a completely lost art. It's all millenials and photoshop; unbelievably appalling nowadays.
 

Lonsdale73

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One of my photographer friends with more years experience under his ever tightening belt than I have years on this planet starts to foam at the mouth whenever he sees the term 'Awesome' applied to a photograph that is clearly anything but. I've gone to places where they've actually said "Oh! Another (in italics) photographer." Some of them have then come back to ask "How do you do that? I can see every detail and the colours are so bright!" because for years they've been told under-exposed and blurred images are 'awesome' photographs. Slightly disconcerting is I now see some of the very same people describing my successor's snaps as 'awesome' making me query if mine are really as bad as his or did I teach them nothing, neither of which is particularly appealing. With regards to magazines and publications, very few have their own photographers, relying on willing - but not always so able - amateurs to keep them supplied with freebies. And some of the bigger publishers want the photographer to surrender the copyright on their work. But there's never a shortage of people wantig to make a quick buck eager to step in. Some of them who I took the time to show how I achieved clear, sharp photos have taken on board my free tuition and gone on to set themselves up as photographers - one shooting interiors! - which I would be quite thrilled had they found their own regular accounts instead of hijacking mine!
 

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