Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Thursday, 22 September 2011

US Trunk Show Dates and The Leather We Use

First off, a piece of very exciting news. We are going to start doing trunk shows in the States with the head cutter (and her under cutter) at Gieves & Hawkes. This means that you can get your bespoke shoes and bespoke suits in one place, two birds with one stone and all that. As far as we know, this is the first time that both services have been offered at one trunk show in the States. So it really is going to be a head to toe service at this unique one stop shop.

We will be going three times a year starting this October (then further trips in March and June). Our first visit will be to Chicago and New York. The dates are the these:

Chicago, The Intercontinental Hotel, Michigan Avenue
Friday 14th and Saturday 15th of October
From 9am till 6pm

New York, The Plaza Hotel, 5th Avenue
Monday 17th, Tuesday 18th, and Wednesday 19th of October
From 9am till 6pm (9am till 11am only on Wednesday)

This is a very exciting project for us and we would be very happy to meet any of our fans over there, whether it is to get measured up for a pair of shoes or to discuss the courses we run.

If you want to come and see us, please email us to make an appointment,
It will be busy, so please don't turn up unannounced.

We will have a series of sample shoes for you to look at, along with leather samples and other shoemaking paraphernalia, so we will be able to design you the shoes you have always dreamed of.

We look forward to meeting you!

This week we saw a notable article in the September issue of The Rake about the refurb at Gieves and Hawkes flagship store at Number 1 Savile Row by Permanent Style creator Simon Crompton. He wrote at length about ourselves, with particular emphasis on our crocodile loafer, which we are very pleased about, as it a shoe we are very proud of.

Notice the matched scales (2 large skins needed); the way the hand stitched lake continues around the back; the military ribbon tug; the matte finish on the skin; and the purple lining. Yes, I'd wear those.

On to all things shoemaking. We often get asked about the leathers we use for making our bespoke shoes, so I am going to start an irregular series of posts on all the leathers. Starting with the rough stuff, which is the name given to all the cow hide we use for the insoles, soles, heels etc. This leather is from adult animals, and as a result, is very thick and dense. We buy ours from J & FJ Baker & Co Ltd  which is the last tannery in England which uses the traditional oak bark tanning method. Their hides are extremely high quality and used by all of the West End shoemaking firms in London. Very durable and hard wearing

So, first off is the toe puff belly. We use this for toe puffs (obviously) and heel stiffeners. You can also buy shoulders, but we prefer the bellies. Many shoemakers buy a heavier iron (4-6) leather for stiffeners, but we find that the toe puff weight (3 - 4 iron) serves very well for most shoes. If we are making a heavier shoe or boot, we will use the thicker skins.

The belly is very long and thin, as you can see, and is the thinnest part of the cow hide. It is also the worst in terms of quality, stretch marks and blemishes. But this does not matter as we skive it and it is an internal component.

Here you can see the surface. Many stretch marks! Yes, other animals get them too. Imagine what a calf does to your belly.

And this is the typical thickness of a 3-4 iron belly.

Next time, we will look at insole shoulders. I know the wait will be unbearable, but contain yourselves.

Until next week, happy shoemaking!