Time to present the correct answers to last week’s photo contest, where you should find the differences in construction and finish work between five pairs of pictures with shoes from various manufacturers. As expected, the competition was really hard, but we’ve got a winner of the shoe care package from Springyard Shoe Therapy with a value of over €1100, and a winner of the shoe cream and polish from the same brand.


More than 15 people tried to sort out the differences between the shoes on the various image pairs were (and then about another 50 people signed up for the newsletter, which is really great. Of course you can continue to register for that, form is available below). Some answered only some of them, but most had given answers to all five questions. Here I sequentially go through the answers to the questions, and hopefully you can learn something out of it, and maybe it can also provide a bit better understanding of how something that looks almost the same does not always need to be. What you should look for was some more or less significative construction or finishing detail that distinguishes the shoes on or around the sole. If you missed the event but still want to guess yourself the first post can be found here.

We begin with the picture pair no. 1. It was  a pair of shoes from Saint Crispin’s, and also a pair of shoes from Maftei, where the top of the welt was what you should look closely at. Several of you contestants were close at giving the correct answer, but actually no one was completely right. Saint Crispin’s sews the sole stitch with machine, but it was as I wrote in the last post not what you should look for, but the fact that they first have stitched the sole stitch and then rolled over it with a ‘fudge wheel to get to the decorative markings. One can see that it’s only decoration on the dimples not following even with the stitches, which I marked for below on an enlarged version of the first image:

 

The stitches and the markings from the fudge wheel aren't even, just done for decoration. Picture: Manolo

The stitches and the markings from the fudge wheel aren’t even, just done for decoration. Picture: Manolo

 

The idea of a fudge wheel is that when you sew by hand you choose a wheel with the distance you want the stitch to be, heats the tool and then drag it over the edge to get marks for stitches. After the stitches are done you run the wheel over the welt again in the same manner, to push down the stitches and further improve the look. What Saint Crispin’s is doing here, and what virtually all factory-made shoes using fudge wheel does, is to imitate this mainly for the sake of appearance.

On the other picture there was a shoe from Maftei:

 

Here's a shoe from Maftei, to be compared with the one above.

Here you can see how the markings look different.

 

Maftei doesn’t use a fudge wheel, but a so-called stitch prick. It’s a tool with a flat tip,  almost like a large flat screwdriver, which one makes the markings with one by one. It’s more time consuming than a fudge wheel (and of course very much more time consuming than just making decorative patterning with a fudge wheel) and has the advantage of pressing the stitches even more, and really pulls them in further, even if it in a way may be easier than using a fudge wheel on top of the stitches again when it is immediately evident if you miss the markings made before. You can also use fudge wheel before stitches, and after stitching go over with a stitch prick. You can see that Maftei just used a stitch prick by the fact that the markings both go so close to the upper, which can be difficult with a fudge wheel, that the markings are so defined, and that the slots are a bit biased and not sticking straight out, so to speak, plus doesn’t keep exactly the same angle all along the edge.

 

Two different versions of stitch pricks. They are curved to easier access closer to the upper. Picture: DW Frommer II/Styleforum

Two different versions of stitch pricks. They are curved to easier access closer to the upper. Picture: DW Frommer II/Styleforum

 

Many of you were considering the fudge wheel marks in different versions, but you had then failed to pin-point that they did not use a fudge wheel but a stitch prick.

 

We proceed with picture pair no. 2. This was obviously an easier question,several of you contestants had the right answer here. It was about how waists are built, where two variants of what is popularly called fiddle waists were displayed. Here’s the first picture:

 

The waists of a pair of Cheaney Imperial.

The shoes from Cheaney’s Imperial range.

 

These waisst aren’t built up all the way into the heel area, but as you can see the ridge flattens out before the heel base. This is done since you otherwise need to build the heel by hand, at least in part, the layers closest to the sole need to be built around the built-up from the fiddle waist. Almost all RTW manufacturers use pre-built heels, including premium brands like Gaziano & Girling and Edward Green, then it needs to be flat in the entire heel area before it is attached. Here is a picture that shows how Cheaney makes this waist, a ready-made leather piece:

 

The leather piece is only building up the front part of the waist. Picture: Cheaney

The leather piece is only building up the front part of the waist. Picture: Cheaney

 

Next shoe was from Paolo Scafora:

 

A different waist. Picture: Noveporte

A different waist. Picture: Noveporte

 

This is still what is commonly referred to a fiddle waist where your the ridge is more marked, but here as you can see the build-up go all the way into the heel base. Here they have built the heel by hand with the first layers being wreaths around the build-up before it is covered up and flat heel lifts are attached. Again, it’s more time consuming to do it this way, but also the function that a fiddle waist may have, to give extra stability, becomes much more evident when the shoe is built like this. On a shoe with a waist like Cheaney’s above it at most marginally makes the waist stronger, it’s more about appearance. A heel like Paolo Scafora’s looks like this when being made, compared with the Cheaney image above:

 

Layers of in this case cork builds up the waist here, and it goes back under the heel part. Picture: Bespoke Shoes Unlaced

Layers of in this case cork builds up the waist here, and it goes back under the heel part. Picture: Bespoke Shoes Unlaced

 

We move on to the third image pair, where it was the edges of two waists to be examined. The first shoe was from Antonio Meccariello’s top range Aurum, and looked like this:

 

The waist seen from the side of an Antonio Meccariello Aurum shoe. Picture: Antonio Meccariello

Waist from the side. Picture: Meccariello

 

What Meccariello does is to place the seam a little deeper into welt and then push up the welt and the sole edge over the stitches so that they are more or less hidden. It can get quite nice, and it’s very common among both more sophisticated RTW brands and even among bespoke makers. Here you can see it a little more clearly made on a shoe for his cheaper Argentum line:

 

This is what it looks like after Antonio has pushed up the edge against the upper. It's usually done by hammering and pressing the shaft of the hammer against it.

This is what it looks like after Antonio has pushed up the edge against the upper. It’s usually done by hammering and pressing the shaft of the hammer against it.

He lifts the edge a bit to show the sole stitch. Pictures: Meccariello

He lifts the edge a bit to show the sole stitch. Pictures: Meccariello

 

This method is, once again, a simplification of the more difficult method used to hide the seam, called a blind welt. That’s what Hiro Yanagimachi made on the shoe that was on the other image:

 

And here's a waist of a Hiro Yanagimachi shoe.

Here’s a blind welt waist.

 

Here you let a wider piece of the sole be retained and then you turn it over the welt and conceals both that and the seam. A relatively advanced method that more or less requires a hand sewn sole stitch to put it really close to the upper (also Meccariello’s sole stitch above is stitched by hand though). The reason I used this particular image above is that this appears slightly clearer since it has become a bit rough where the folded sole piece meets the welt at the end of the waist.

 

At the lower part of the sole edge here you can see the part of the sole that sticks out, which later will be folded over the welt. Picture: Hiro Yanagimachi

At the lower part of the sole edge here you can see the part of the sole that sticks out, which later will be folded over the welt. Picture: Hiro Yanagimachi

 

Some of you had written the right answer on this question. Some also believed that Hiro Yanagimachi used the method I described that Meccariello does, maybe since if you look really close at Meccariello’s shoe you can see a bit of sole stitch.

 

Image pair nr. 4 was two different sole bottoms that should be examined, where the difference was the different ways to make a closed channel for the sole stitch. The first was from Italigente who uses insoles with an already pre-cut channel, who enters from the side of the sole. Therefore, the sole is completely flat underneath and you can’t see the channel.

 

A very well hidden channel.

A very well hidden channel.

 

On this pic you can see how it looks when this type of sole goes through the manufacturing:

 

The pre-cut flap is opened. Here you have soles in different sizes and the flap goes a long way into the sole to make it work for many different shoes.

The pre-cut flap is opened. Here you have soles in different sizes and the flap goes a long way into the sole to make it work for many different shoes.

 

The advantage of this kind of closed channel is of course that it’s smooth and tidy, the downside is that they may go up a little easier if you for instance kick to the edge of the sole, then the opening of the channel is located on the edge.

On the other picture was a shoe from Carmina, and this has a channel cut up a bit into the sole from the edge. One can see it glued together at the arrows below:

 

Here you see the channel. Picture: Epaulet

Here you see the channel. Picture: Epaulet

 

These type of channels are in factories often made by machine, but otherwise it is cut up by hand. Here the channel is a bit more visible, but depending on the angle from which you cut the channel it can hold together a bit better.
This question was a little harder than I thought, even if some of you were correct, I would have thought that more people would pick it.

The last question however no one gave the correct answer for. Suppose you had missed the important part that it would also look at the finish. Many guessed different variations of how broad the sole edge was, other on in differences in the toe spring (which may be said not anything to do with design or finish of the sole area), and more. But it’s imply about a small detail on the heel of each shoe. We start by looking at the first picture in the enlarged version of a shoe from Crownhill Shoes:

 

Close-up. Picture: Crownhill Shoes

Close-up. Picture: Crownhill Shoes

 

And picture two, of a Loake Aldwych shoe:

 

Now if you look really close at this pic you should be able to spot it. It's about finishing...

Now if you look really close at this pic you should be able to spot it. It’s about finishing…

 

The heel of the Crownhill shoe is completely clean, just sanded and painted, they have not done anything more than that. On Loake, however, they’ve made a decorative pattern and drawn a wheel that makes small vertical marks along the entire upper part of the heel. A very small detail, but the fact is that it is a clear majority of all the classic shoes that has this. Go through your own shoe collection abd you’ll see, probably at least 80% of your shoes has this type of decoration. Personally I actually react pretty much on a shoe like Crownhill’s, I think it looks a little bare, empty. But it’s so clear that one are so accustomed to it to be a decoration there.

Then we have the hindsight of the competition, so over to whoever had the most correct answers of those of you who sent in your answers. As I already mentioned no one had all questions correct, both to question 1 and 5, no one gave the correct answer to. There were a few who had three right, and of them there was one that was closer to give the correct answer to question no. 1, and therefore I appointed him to be the winner. So, congratulations Per Arvidsson! You get a large shoe care package from Springyard’s range Shoe Therapy, which is the Swedish shoe care and shoe accessories wholesaler Brunngårds recently launched line with completely organic products. The total value of the package is over 1,000.
In addition, I then also drawn a winner of a smaller kit including a Springyard Shoe Therapy shoe cream and a can of polish, among yourother competitors as well as those who signed up for the newsletter. And this package goes to Soleman Bojang, congratulations to you!

 

All the Springyard products Per Arvidsson won. Picture: Brunngård

All the Springyard products Per Arvidsson won. Picture: Brunngård

 

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