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My friends over at Freeman’s Sporting Club never cease to amaze. Their latest creation, dress shoes with E. Vogel are a celebration of local trade and artisanal goods.
For Fall 2010 F.S.C. offers 2 styles. The first shoe is a five eyelet split-toe oxford blucher in brandy French calfskin. The second shoe is a plain toe three eyelet blucher constructed using black French baby calfskin. Both shoes feature genuine Goodyear Welt Construction and are fully lined for comfort and wearability.
F.S.C documented the process of building the shoes and here’s how it goes. Photography by Michael Waring
E. Vogel is a bespoke and handmade footwear business that has been in NYC since 1879. These master shoe and boot makers have been approached numerous times to create a private label collection. They have turned these opportunities down—until now. They have agreed to produce a line of dress shoes exclusively for Freemans Sporting Club. The artisanal nature of shoe construction and design are the perfect complement to our ready-to-wear and made-to-measure suits.
The hallmark of any Vogel dress shoe begins with the choice of hide. In the case of Freemans Sporting Club, our shoes are made using French calfskin for the upper.The French are the finest tanners of calfskin in the world and the leather used in our shoes is full grain, meaning there is no correction in the hide. As the French have a sizeable veal market, the skins come from small animals. This produces a beautiful, supple, tight grained leather. In addition, barbed wire fencing is not common on cattle ranches in France so the skins are free of the scarring prevalant in other leathers.
Once the last and leather have been chosen, a paper pattern is made by a master pattern maker. This pattern is then used to hand cut the individual pieces of leather that form the upper of the shoe. The individual elements are cut and sent to the upper making department where the pieces are sewn together to form the “upper”.
The master shoemakers at E. Vogel pride themselves on hand lasting each shoe they make. Once the upper has been stitched together, it is stretched over the last by hand and then tacked to the bottom of the last with nails. Hand lasting results in an upper that is perfectly fit over the last. This ensures that the vamp creases and breaks properly with wear, resulting in less cracking and superior comfort.
After the upper has been lasted, the shoe goes to be soled. This process begins by hand-tacking the insole on to the last. The insoles are made from pure vegetable tanned leather that is chosen for its breathability, comfort and durability. Similar to the french calf uppers, the insoles will gradually conform to the shape of the foot resulting in a custom quality to the fit.Once tacked to the last, the insoles are trimmed by hand to make certain they conform exactly to the bottom of the last.
THE GOODYEAR WELTThis process takes its name from Charles Goodyear Jr. who revolutionized the shoemaking industry in 1871 by introducing the machinery used to attach the sole to the upper in this manner.The finished upper is shaped over the last and fastened on by sewing a strip of leather called a “welt” to the inner and upper sole.The welt creates a cavity that is then filled with cork which serves as a cushion and allows the shoe to breathe. A four-layer sandwich is created: outsole, welt, insole and lining of upper.The final step is to stitch the outsole to the shoe through the welt.The number of steps involved in Goodyear welted dress shoes means they take much longer to manufacture than cheaper alternatives and the laborious nature of the process means that craftsmen take years to hone their skills.The system of Goodyear Welt Construction provides constant airflow through the shoe, keeping the shoe ventilated, durable and strong in addition to making the shoe easy to re-sole.