In my last update, I talked about a sample that was *almost* what I wanted, but missed the mark on a key detail.
In this newsletter, I'll go into:
I. Version 4 Finalized
III. September ETA
IV. Last Call for Version 3.2 Shoes
The last round of samples didn't have the cap shortened like I asked. I found out it was a misunderstanding. They thought I only wanted the celastic toe support shortened, not the cap itself. The shoemaker was able to whip up a sample within a week, and they nailed it!
So here it is, a final side-by-side of v3.2 and the new v4! To keep it simple, v3.2 will always be on the left, and v4 will always be 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, and it also keeps the 3 components of the insole--leather, Poron, and cellulose board--together.
Oh you fancy, huh?
Suede has more friction than smooth leather. This should help prevent the back of the foot from slipping up.
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, it was a bit too much on our versions prior to 4. 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.
I think the reason why these Mexico-made version 4 shoes have less toe spring has to do with the next point.
With our USA-made shoes, there was a cork filler between the insole and the outsole. Our Mexican shoemaker asked, "Is this really necessary?" and the answer is no. With the cork filler removed, the shoes are lighter, softer, and more flexible right out the box, and I think it's the reason why there's 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 had them strategically lower the topline.
Thanks to your feedback to our March newsletter, I redesigned our heel counter. This design is most often seen on wingtips, where extra panels allows for the shoe to showcase more of its intricate detailing. I saw it on an Oxford though, and I said Whoa.
The stitching on our shoes got a lot tighter between v2 and v3, as we moved cut-and-sew from Wisconsin to the Dominican.
Between v3 and v4, the individual stitches appear to be the same size. However, the rows of stitching are closer in v4, and what a huge difference that makes in refinement. Everything's better in Mexico!
You may have noticed by now that v4 has round elastic laces, which look more traditional. The round laces glide through the eyelets more easily, which makes tightening and loosening them easier. I also expect the round elastic laces to be more durable (think of flat fabric vs rope).
Our old shoe trees were of a stock shape, made from red aromatic cedar.
When I first visited the shoe tree maker in León, I was concerned about the material and the price. Their most affordable option, pine, was 1.5x what I was paying for shoe trees before. The price for cedar was so high that I don't even remember it.
So I spent an evening digging through articles and forums about shoe tree material. Red aromatic cedar has one clear advantage over other shoe tree woods, and its in the name: aromatic. They smell great. Cedar repels pests and resists rot very well, often used outdoors with no treatment necessary.
There are claims that cedar is better at managing moisture by absorbing it, but this seems up for debate by people with a stronger grasp on science than myself. After all, luxury shoemakers use varnished woods for their shoe trees, and varnished wood is basically waterproof. It seems that the most important thing is that you use shoe trees, period.
The new shoe trees included with v4 are made from varnished pine. They look great and they should last longer than the untreated cedar ones, which can splinter. The new shoe trees are customized to our shoe shape, so that it fits perfectly. I was really excited when they told me I could provide custom-lasted shoe trees for you. This is typically only available with shoes that are $1,000+.
In the end, all things considered, I decided the higher price was worth it.
On July 18th, my sourcing agent sent me an update from all of our suppliers. The shoe tree maker expects to deliver trees and bags to the shoemaker by August 26th. The shoemaker expects our first batch of shoes to finish on August 17th, with the remainder to follow shortly. We're on target for September.
This is a Last Call to customers with outstanding orders to get a version 3.2 shoe now, before I list them in the Outlet Store for sale to the general public, next Thursday July 27.
If you have an outstanding order, and you'd prefer the prior version 3.2 shoes now rather than wait for version 4 shoes later, I may be able to send you something.
Whenever a SKU sells out, I change the product description and pricing to pre-order. When I get a return, I don't list this back in the store. I keep it on hand to take care of existing customers first.
Since we're getting closer to our restock, I'm looking to clean out my warehouse. I have a few pairs in the following SKU's:
These are in brand new brand new condition. They're covered under our 365-day return and exchange policy. So if there’s anything you don’t like about this pair, or there’s something you prefer in our new version 4, just reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll have you taken care of.
First come first serve, before I list them in the Outlet Store for sale to the general public, next Thursday July 27!
Oh man, am I excited! Thank you for your support and patience!
Mountain Evan Chang
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