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In my last update, I said that we were leaving Modern Vice. With the help of Mexico Footwear Agency, we are evaluating 2 shoemakers in Léon, Mexico.
My dies--for cutting leather into my uppers--were held up at Modern Vice for awhile, but they finally made it to me, and they reached the shoemaker last week. They should have the sample done this coming week.
The other shoemaker decided to just draw up new patterns, because they had some ideas on how to improve on them. I got this sample last week, and this update will be mainly about this redesign.
Before I even get into the redesign details, the remarkable thing is that they did this without me asking. During our time with our US-based shoemaker, I always felt like I was bothering them with each design revision and sample request. I think this isn't so much an issue of character, so much as capacity. The US-based shoemaker only had 1 or 2 designers, and their plates were always full. This Mexican shoemaker has a team of 7.
Now, let's do a detailed comparison of our original design to their redesign!
For simplicity's sake, our old pattern is always on the left, and the redesign is always on the right.
The first thing you probably noticed is the change in the cap to vamp to quarter proportions.
This area in Oxford shoes tends to have a gap between the 2 quarters. It's usually solved with either stitching or a flap like this. I think this flap would be the more durable out of the 2.
In combination with the longer cap, these sharper lines and angles make the redesign look more masculine.
I think they removed an eyelet for aesthetic reasons when they shortened the quarters. Functionally, having less lacing makes it easier to slip into the shoes with our elastic laces.
I'm not sure if there's a function to this, but I've seen it on other dress shoes and it looks nice.
I think the stitching looks much better. Note that there will be a logo in the footbed, they just didn't have my logo stamp available.
Suede has more friction than smooth leather. This should help prevent the back of the foot from slipping up.
I'm not sure if the tip on the right is actually sleeker, or if it's an optical illusion from the cap being longer. Either way, I'll take it!
The toe upturn is called toe spring. It's a useful feature if done right, as it helps you not kick the front of your shoes, especially on dress shoes where there's extra length in the front. However, I think it is a bit too much on our shoes. It's strange because our last (the plastic mold around which shoes are built) doesn't have that much toe spring, but the shoes do. When we get to a redesign of our lasts, I'm going to reduce it. For some reason, this sample from Mexico has less toe spring. I'll ask about it. I hope the rest of the shoes we make in Mexico will have less toe spring.
This part tended to bother some people's ankles. It's much finer in the redesign and as a result much softer. As a further measure to spare people's ankles, I will ask them to lower the topline a bit too.
Continuing on the trend of straighter lines, I believe.
I don't know how, but the interior of the redesign is roomier.
Your feedback on the redesign is appreciated! Feel free to share your thoughts so I can have them ready before I meet with the shoemakers. I'm personally thrilled with this redesign. I have a lot of questions and suggestions of my own.
I didn't want to do any redesigns for V4 because our main priority is getting back in stock ASAP. But because their redesign actually put them ahead of schedule, rather than waiting to receive for my old dies, I let them go at it.
Of course, the next question is: How long would it take to make a new set of dies? The answer: 7 working days. I think that's definitely worth it, if you guys like the redesign as much as everyone else I've shown it to. And that time would likely not be a bottleneck, since it can be done simultaneously with other more time-intensive steps, such as those involving leather.
At the end of March, I will be in Mexico to meet everyone and discuss everything.
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