Sunday, October 19, 2008
Men who wisely spend their money on welted shoes, where the sole is sewn to the upper, can be more frugal than men who purchase fashion-oriented versions with glued soles (Gucci and its ilk come to mind here). When a shoe with a glued sole has worn through the bottom, the shoe has reached the end of its life and there's nothing left to do but dispose of it responsibly. Welted shoes, on the other hand, can have the soles replaced for a charge that's modest compared to the cost of a new pair. And that's an advantage in economically challenging times.
The relative ubiquity of shoe repair shops aside, welted shoes should be returned to their makers for the serious work of re-soling.
When shoes are returned to their maker, the re-soling process usually includes a new sock liner, minor repairs to the upper and a good polishing. But those are the icing and the cake itself is removal and replacement of the heels and then the soles, a process that should always occur on the last that was used to make the shoe originally (that's the last that WS Foster used to make shoes for Franklin Delanor Roosevelt in the photo). If a generic last is used the shoes will be a different shape, and perhaps a different fit, when they are returned to their owner.
A pair of re-soled shoes is good for a second lifetime, and with the benefit of years of patina, at a fraction of the cost of new shoes. Foster, for example, charges $260 (£150) to restore a pair of its machine-made shoes and $433 (£250) for bespoke.
That's shoe frugality.