Friday, 9 July 2010

Leather Sole, Rubber Sole

Back and refreshed from a wonderful holiday in Venice, I am well and truly into the groove of work again. It has been a bit manic here this week with two clients champing at the bit for their shoes and the Other One in Southwold. I have delivered today, so I can relax and do something more pleasurable, like write a blog post.

While in Venice, I went to see two shoemakers. The first was Giovanella Zanella, Calle Carminati, Castello 564. Unfortunately her shop was closed for lunch, so all I saw was the window display, which, I have to say, was crazy and quite wonderful. Mostly for women, the shoes were inventive, marvelous and very personal. I liked them very much.

The second maker was a more successful visit, as her shop was open and we got to talk. Her name is Daniella Ghezzo, the shop is called Segalin, Calle dei Fuseri, San Marco, 4365. She apprenticed, like I did, with a master shoemaker and took over the business when he retired. Her work is very high quality and totally handsewn bespoke. She has the advantage of access to all those wonderful Italian coloured leathers and hence her shoes are full of interesting use of colour. About a 50:50 mix of men's and women's shoes, she says she has a similar mix of locals and tourists. A beautiful shop which made me green with envy. I want one too!

Most of our clients choose a leather sole for their shoes. This has many advantages. One being that you get the full handsewn shoe with a handsewn welt and sole. Another is that the leather is breathable, thus healthier. A third is that they look great, for example, you can have an elegant bevelled waist on a leather soled shoe. But to some clients, these advantages are outweighed by one major issue. Slippiness. Now, I wear leather soles shoes all the time and have never had a slip in wet weather, but some people say they slip and slide around to a dangerous degree. I think it is because of differences in gait, but I don't really know.
So, for these clients, we offer synthetic sole.

The process is the same for measuring, making the last, the upper, and the fittings. We welt the shoe as per usual, except that we welt all the way round the heel, so that it joins up with itself (like a welted seat). Start just behind the heel point where it is still straight. When you get back to where you started, bevel the welt to match up with the bevel you cut on the start piece. Put some glue on the two pieces and stitch through.




The other difference is that we use a leather welt which you can buy by the metre. This is because it is easier to go all the way round a large shoe. You glass and soak it just like a normal welt.




Once the welt has been stitched on, we let it dry and then send it off to the factory to get a synthetic sole stitched on. You are obliged to have a square waist with this construction. They end up looking very nice, and the construction is very strong, but I think you sacrifice some elegance for practicality with a rubber sole. But tell that to the guy who is sat on his backside on the pavement in a storm.

Our course is two weeks away and all in hand, so that is exciting. The sun is shining, it's 28 degrees out there and I am going to sign off and finish early.

So, until next week, happy shoemaking!