Here's just a quick post on the differences between Bruce's and Mr X's bespoke lasts that they made for me. Most of this stuff is now covered in my blog in much more detail.
After having Mr X make up a goodyear welted trial bespoke shoe for myself, l finally decided to give Bruce's last the flick and start from scratch again. The shoe was extremely comfortable, but the last wasn't near as artistic and beautiful as l was hoping it would be. l had many bad feelings that the last was going to be ugly, and l was right. l am so glad l never had John handstitch me a shoe on this last, he and l deserve much better than that. l choose to blame myself for the Fred Flinstone last (Fritzl last ) because l asked Bruce for a traditional English captoe last, but l didn't specify `SLEEK' and show him some pictures of highend shoes with sleek lasts, so miscommunication occured. So be it...lesson learned, it could have been alot worse. It is so easy to make mistakes when doing such a big project like this in Australia; l thought l had covered every little detail but l still forgot the most important and basic thing...to mention the word `sleek' and show him pictures. You can't leave anything to change on a project like this in Australia...you have to nurse everything very carefully and fully guide the process...you have to be a complete control freak and make sure everything is done how you want it. No-one would dare tell the blokes at John Lobb or Gaziano & Girling what to do, but in Australia it is much different...you have to have good general knowledge of shoemaking and need to direct the project yourself and tell the various parties how you want it done. If you are any old blow joe off the street and want a proper bespoke shoe made in Melbourne, it is full with danger and you will likely fall flat on your face because the parties won't know what you want. You need to know what you want,what each craftsman is capable of and how he works and what he prefers, and then mould it all together into the one project; that is the hardest part. Mr X likes and wants certain things, John likes and wants certain things...so things aren't always straight forward and sometimes solutions need to be worked out so it all flows nicely. l could have had Mr X stitch the uppers together and last the pattern for John, but John doesn't want it this way because he hand welts differently to how Mr X would do it...have to mould the different shoemaking schools to make the project flow, that's just one example.
Fortunately Mr X has come to the rescue and made me another last based on this Greek beauty here:
It actually looks similar to the Vass F last but it is a much classier looking last in person and will make up a very smart looking shoe. Mr X copied the wood last to my measurements and refined various parts of the last to make it even better than the wood last. This is the result below:
Now lets compare the two lasts (light blue = Bruce Millar last. Darker blue = Mr X last)
Bruce Millar last = a bit blobby and less shapely and less sophisticated. More aussie caveman shape for primitive men. Boring and ugly.
Mr X last = much nicer highend shape that is alot more scuptured. Interesting and handsome.
The light bloo have been eating donuts and sitting on the couch every night, but the dark bloo lads have been working out and eating healthy foods. When it comes to a shoos appearance, the last is everything...it's gotta look really reallly good! Fat boys cum last, they are the outcasts of footwear. The lean machines will always win the race in the end and turn the heads, everyone wants to hang with those guys.
More blobby/fat light blue last with less shapely look, more rounded toe and less sculpture on the sides (chubby boy). The dark blue has much better toe, much more sculptured on the sides and generally a sexier beast with less fat/blob on it overall (fit in shape boy).
Mr X last has much more refined ankle area, but Bruce’s last is more caveman style. Herman Monster/Munster and Fred Flinstone would like the light blue heel because it is shapeless and very very fat and made for primitive folks, but modern day men like the dark blue last shaped for normal men.
The two fit boys in dark blue v's the chubby guy in the middle:
Ugly toe v’s sleek sophisticated toe:
See the difference!
I loved the shoo Mr X made me on the blobby last, it reminded me of my shoos from Mr Kiss…Fritzl would have loved it too , but in this case it was not what l wanted…l wanted something very sleek with a mainstream highend English shape. Mr X completed the shoe overseas while he was away so l lost some control over the project (BIG mistake), but it was the only way it could be done with the limited time we had on the project. Fortunately Mr X used his common sense and made a shoe that matched the character of the last. Instead of getting a nice refined shoe with a close cut waist with a single sole on an elegant last with beautiful highend Italian style antiquing, l got a big double sole gunboat type of shoe on a meaty last without the antiquing…l was shocked at first, but l quickly realized that Mr X made it according to the character of the last and it worked out the best. Mr X also did built in arch supports and the shoo is the most comfortable and fits the best of any shoe I’ve ever had, l hardly feel l have them on my feet and they feel completely different to any shoe I’ve ever worn, they are great! The only real disappointment was that Mr X didn't have time to do a proper closed channeled sole, so it is stitched in an open channel like a Church's shoo; but it doesn't matter because it was only a trial shoo...the best stuff is yet to come, with John it will be perfect, he is the best stitcher there is and he likes sleekness.
I see Mr X next week to get another pattern drawn up on my new last and then start again with a different shoo project.
It’s quite surprising to hear about the hidden talent around Melbourne too. There is one bloke who is an amazing last maker (one of the best) who doesn’t speak a word of English, but he does some casual `last' work at home for a certain workshop. Unfortunately l won’t be able to use his services because l am not an old mate and l don’t speak his language (he is even off limits to Mr X).
There is no substitute for bespoke shoos, but it is hard work. The fit, the love that goes into the shoe, the ability to customise everything, the stories, the experience and the relationships you develop are far superior to the coldness of buying pre-made shoos from a shop. Buying pre-made shoos from a shop is almost an insult...it's cold and clinical and the last isn't even made for your feet...the maker makes the shoo without you even in mind. Having shoemaker make a pair with you in mind make you purrrr like a kitten, much better than having outworkers who don't know you make it. Knowing the workers and forming a warm relationship with them makes it a much better experience.
l feel like Mr X is like a dad. l've been over to his place many times, had many chats, met many of his family various times and feel really comfortable there. Mr X likes me being around too. No special behaviour for me...just family life that goes on as normal when l am there. The Mr X shoo will always have a special place in my heart because it is such an intimate shoo.
Last edited by The_Shooman (2011-12-30 10:05:40)
Am I mistaken or is the right shoe Bruce last not plumb/straight? See third photo. It seems to vere to the right at the top.
lt's all good Meister.
One of the things which really annoyed me about Bruce's lasts was that the instep height wasn't made bespoke for each foot like l requested. One shoe had the lacing closed and the other had the lacing slightly open. Not impressed!
lf l had have known the last was going to be so blobby l would have had a derby made up instead of an oxford. Still...it was a good experiment. Now it's time to get down to business and get the good one made up.
Last edited by The_Shooman (2012-01-01 08:56:44)
l even managed to talk Mr X into doing inbuilt bespoke orthotics in all my Vass shoes. l am a very lucky fellow to have him agree to this.
looks like you felt the same as me about your bruce lasts, ive been a little in contact with springline, but after seeing this
http://www.styleforum.net/t/168002/shoe … rt-ii/9285
about 1/2 way down (the lazyman shoe) from cliff on springline lasts, i'm even more determined to get the project moving
My orthotic guy has offered to do me a moulding suitable to transfer to a CAD drawing and then for making into a plastic last. He says he has someone in South Australia but would Springline be better?