Chief

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Trickers

I had an interesting chat with a gent who works at Trickers a few months back. We were discussing the differences between the shoe makers in Northampton and he said that Edward Green use a better grade of leather, Swiss Calf if I remember. Apparently the cold climate means the cows don't grow so quickly which makes the leather "tighter" or something.

Also, I think the soles on EG are thicker, not sure if this is an advantage though.

I'm my opinion C&J are producing some of the nicest last's in the UK. EG are very classic.

Overall, just looking at the two manufacturers shoes side by side EG look slightly more expensive, I suppose it's the little differences that are hard to spot on their own. But, as the gent at Trickers said, you pay a massive, unreasonable markup for those small improvements.
 

DWFII

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This site (it's in French)

http://www.depiedencap.eu/spip.php?rubrique43

took apart EGs and C&Js and found one particular difference: it seems C&J buys in some pre-assembled components from Bartoli, presumably as a cost-reduction initiative. Both manufacturers were equally criticized for their reliance on toe caps to which thermoformed materials had been glued.
All, with the exception of two cement sole construction, are gemmed)...which, although I don't speak French, should have earned them as much or more criticism as the toe stiffeners...and rightfully should limit their price to about half of what they now charge. Gemming is the cheapest method of construction and the most subject to break-down and degradation..
 
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Sir Walter

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All, with the exception of two cement sole construction, are gemmed)...which, although I don't speak French, should have earned them as much or more criticism as the toe stiffeners...and rightfully should limit their price to about half of what they now charge. Gemming is the cheapest method of construction and the most subject to break-down and degradation..
Please clarify, what is gemming and which of the manufactures are guilty of the practice?
 

DWFII

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Please clarify, what is gemming and which of the manufactures are guilty of the practice?
As stated above, with the exception of two shoes with cement sole construction, all of the manufacturers on the linked page use gemming. I am not going...nor do a feel a need...to point fingers or single out specific companies. Suffice it to say the names are there and they are hardly the only ones who use gemming.

As for what it is...

According to J.H Thornton there are 12 recognized methods of bottoming and attaching an outsole. Not all of them are applicable to high quality...or perhaps better to say...high priced shoes.

Among the foremost is "Goodyear welted." (Parenthetically, no one, including myself, seems sure if this applies to hand inseamed as well as machine inseamed shoes). Shoemakers, trained in Traditional techniques, attach the welt directly to the insole in a process that cuts a channel into the insole and then hand stitches the welt to the leather "holdfast" that is created in the substance of the insole. Done properly this is the most secure and long lasting means of attaching welt. It will never compromise the fit and the welt can be replaced whenever wear or overzealous repair has left it too narrow to be usable.

There are even machine techniques that can create the holdfast from the substance of the insole and the welt can subsequently be sewn, by machine, to it.

All of this is, of course, predicated on a high quality insole with some thickness that can be incorporated into the inseam.

But in a Traditional shop it is done entirely by hand. And that takes time...far more time than almost any other production method...which is why it is almost never found in anything other than really high quality shoes (forget about price and the cache of brand name...I'm talking quality not $$'s). That said, there simply is no other method that creates a better, more stable shoe. Although to be fair, Blake/rapid probably comes close provided it is done with the same high quality materials.

Gemming is a process that involves laying down a canvas rib around the perimeter of the under-surface of the insole. The rib is called gemming. And its purpose is to substitute for the leather holdfast...and to do it cheaply and quickly. It can be recognized by the white strip you see in most of those photos...sometimes "pinked" sometimes not. The gemming is cemented to the insole. That is the only thing holding it (and the shape of the shoe) in place. The welt is machine stitched to the gemming and the resultant insole cavity is filled with cork.

Now, it bears repeating...in almost all instances, the gemming is held in place solely by cement. And that is its first weak spot. The cement will fail, probably even before the shoe is in need of a resole. When the cement fails the gemming slips and the shoe will walk out of shape. And anyone attempting to resole without the original last, faces the nearly impossible task of trying to re-position the gemming.

Moreover, canvas is far more fragile than leather. If cotton canvas is used, it is subject to bacterial action--rot, in other words. Stitches pull through, the welt itself comes loose, and moisture and dirt enter the shoe.

Gemming also frees the manufacturer to select thinner and cheaper grades of leather for the insole...or eschew leather altogether and use fiberboard insoles. Nothing visible, nothing immediately apparent will alert the customer to this further debasement of sound shoe technologies. Many manufacturers put a Poron or other cushion insole on top of the fiberboard insole and tout the whole as a "comfort" insole.

If an insole is made of good leather it will last for literally decades. If the shoe is inseamed directly to the leather, the inseam...and therefore the shoe...has the potential to be worn frequently, repaired regularly and might still be passed onto the next generation. What is more, a leather insole will form a "footbed" under the foot that will ensure comfort for the life of the shoe.

Gemming creates the need for cork filler. That cork is fugitive and will move away from pressure points. Insoles filled with cork are nearly always bare of cork under the ball of the foot. And if the insole is fiberboard or thin, poor quality leather, the insole itself may wear out (developing a hole)...it certainly will not provide any cushioning to the foot nor will it mold itself to the bottom of the foot.

Gemming is the cheapest and quickest way to get a shoe together. It literally is the default method for bottoming on the cheapest (think $40.00 a pair) shoes on the market--ala Walmart.

Even cement construction is a better alternative simply because it is not masquerading as anything other than what it is--quick and easy...and ultimately short-lived. And everyone knows it--you cannot pass off a cement construction as a really high quality shoe.
 
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CrackedCrab

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473
Wow, I'm now worried that my many pairs of Aldens, Edward Greens, C&Js, and Lobbs that I've had for 5, 10, 15+ years, worn regularly, that are all still going strong, with none of the potential problems you describe, are now going to spontaneously turn to dust. I guess I need to get some purely hand made shoes or just save the money and go to Walmart. :icon_smile_big:
 
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Flanderian

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I am not going...nor do a feel a need...to point fingers or single out specific companies.
Ah, but with all due respect, there is a need. Your explanation of shoe construction was both interesting and instructive, but since the issue of the thread is a comparison of two makes of shoes, your assurance as to the inferior nature of gemming as a form of construction and that "the names are there" yields nothing unless you do specify which you are talking about. Absent that information, the reader is left to conclude that both employ inferior construction, which is a disservice if not true, or that neither does, which is hardly helpful if it is.

On the issue of cork between insole and outer, I find it odd that it should be described as an indicator of inferior construction. My experience with cork, both ground pieces and whole pieces (J. M. Weston), is that it offers both substantial resistance to water seeping through the sole and thermal insulation from either hot or cold pavement. I have never experienced much in the way of cushioning from the cork between the insole and outer sole, either when new, (I.e., before shifting in your explanation.) or after extended wear, and have never heard it before described as being its intended purpose.
 
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Finian McLonergan

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"the names are there" yields nothing unless you do specify which you are talking about.
DWFII makes it clear that all the names on the referenced page employing a Goodyear construction use gemming - that would include EG, C&J, JM Weston, Allen-Edmond and Lobb. Unless contradicted, I therefore conclude that this is effectively a universal practice among RTW shoe manufacturers who use the Goodyear process. (Shall we employ the All the President's Men system DWFII? If you don't contradict I take it as correct?)

I'm grateful to DWFII for this insight. I've long been sceptical about the high prices charged by manufacturers for refurbishment, when compared to my very reasonable and competent local cobbler. Perhaps I need to rethink this.

Understandably, manufacturers would be very coy about referencing gemming-related failure as a reason for using their services, as it would draw attention to shortcomings in their own processes. So the question now is, how does one accurately diagnose gemming-related breakdown early enough, so that the manufacturer refurbishment route can be selected over the local cobbler? What are the tell-tale signs to watch for, or, as DFWII appears to suggest, are the symptoms too artfully camouflagued for customers to detect?

It also remains for me to understand the likelihood, over the lifetime of a shoe, of structural failure related to gemming, as opposed to the usual failure mode, that of cracked leather in shoe creases, assuming reasonable usage and care. In the case of long-lived leather such as shell cordovan, would one be better off in the long run with a quality Blake-Rapid construction, vs. a gemmed Goodyear build, as DWFII appears to imply?

Questions, questions.
 
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Groover

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in 20 years of wearing Goodyear welted footwear made using the described method (of attaching the rib) I've never had a rib fail on me, ever.

I would also include that during my time of selling this type of footwear I didn't see any failures. Also during that time (3 years) I witnessed at least 2-3 pairs per week being sent off for repair both to the manufacturer and a local cobbler, some of soles on these shoes were so worn and thin that they'd detached from the welt and you could see the cork (if that hadn't been worn through) and the rib itself.

No doubt water will have an affect on the strength of the adhesive over time if continually subjected to it. In my experience it's not something I've ever witnessed.

just my two penneth worth.
 
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kev777

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West Yorkshire
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Now, it bears repeating...in almost all instances, the gemming is held in place solely by cement. And that is its first weak spot. The cement will fail, probably even before the shoe is in need of a resole. When the cement fails the gemming slips and the shoe will walk out of shape. And anyone attempting to resole without the original last, faces the nearly impossible task of trying to re-position the gemming.

quote]

This raises a shedload of questions and requires a further shedload of answers !!!!

How long have these unscrupulous manufacturers been using this work of the devil called "gemming" ?

Why havent all the other learned experts on shoe manufacture both here and over on styleforum advised us mere shoe mortals of this underhand method?

Why havent the manufacturers themselves come clean on this issue?

Why has no one even heard of the term gemming prior to its use here?

Why havent all those "gemmed/goodyear welted!" shoes fallen apart as this statement implies they will? Who is hiding all the failed shoes ?

I will be buying Crocs until such time that this matter is cleared up and have immediately cancelled my orders for a pair of C&J Belgraves and EG Monmouths.

I cannot convey how depressed, devastated and upset i am !!! (Groovers comments have at least stopped the suicide thoughts)
 

upnorth

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Kev, you are not going to be alone. I am going to shop at Walmart for shoes this weekend for the first time in 20 years. :icon_smile_big: