Posted on September 20 2018
People often toss the word "quality" around when it comes to shoes. But, they often stop short of defining what it means outside of a good look or the correct size.
When people ask for quality in footwear, they should know exactly what they are looking for. Here, we list down some of the finer points of what makes a shoe truly stand out.
1. Look at the leather.
Much like diamonds, leather is graded. Full-grain leather is considered to be the best. It is leather does not need to be treated with chemicals or sanding because it is naturally free from blemishes. It gets its name from its source. Full-grain leather comes from the top portion of the hide, which contains all of the grain.
The second grade of leather is called top grain leather. It is smooth with a few blemishes that can be corrected with the usual leather treatment methods. Next, is genuine leather. This leather has gone through treatments like sanding or chemical washes to get its smooth finish.
At the lower end of the quality grading system is belly leather, which can be uneven and loose. Finally, bonded leather is recycled leather made by gluing together discarded scraps. These are weak and often used for other items like book covers.
The higher up the grade scale, the better the leather. In looking at the shoe, look at how even the color is and how the texture feels. Also, consider how the leather was processed. Chemical treatments can give the shoe an unnatural appearance and may not be as flexible on the foot.
2. The feel of the shoe is everything.
The real value of a shoe is in how it fits. The most stylish, aesthetically-pleasing shoe is meaningless if causes blisters to form on your feet.
All new shoes tend to take time to mold itself around the shape of your feet. But. ready-to-wear shoes take less time to break in compared to custom-made shoes. This is one of its benefits.
When trying on a pair of shoes, note where the shoe makes the most contact with your foot. Examples of these are the apex of your foot arch and the edge of your toes. Your feet should not feel pinched.
Walk around with the pair of shoes on to test if the shape of the shoe molds to your feet. Shoe sizes usually just take into account the length but do not consider the curves and other irregularities of foot shape. You need to do a wear test to see if it is suitable for you.
3. The shoe is well-soled.
Quality footwear also means that it displays excellent techniques in construction. One of the details to zoom in on is how the sole is attached to the shoe. There are different ways to do this, but for RTW shoes, the most common way is a method called Goodyear Welt. Here, the welt -- the stip of material around the perimeter of the shoe - is sewn together with the sole and upper part of the shoe. This technique is done with the help of machines.
Other methods include hand-welted, Blake construction, and Rapid Blake construction.
Each of these methods carries its own pros and cons. But, each one should have even stitching, without any misaligned or missing sections. These flaws can affect how the shoe fits by creating unnecessary creases. You can tell how well the sole is attached by running a finger around the welt to feel for any faults.