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  1. #1
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    Default Rubber soled shoes

    Can someone explain the negative opinion of rubber soled shoes in this forum? Is it something about the look, such as how thick they are; or the perceived quality, durability, or comfort; or is it just that people consider rubber soles not wrong in themselves, but evidence of inferior materials or construction quality in other aspects of the shoe; or is it simply that they violate a principle that some people have that men's shoes "should" have leather soles?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

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  3. #2
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    Oh, there are a lot of reasons. First is the fact that rubber soles are frequently thick and clunky and ugly. it's true that there are a lot of thin, low-profile rubber soles out there, but you don't see the good examples all that often, particularly on less-expensive shoes. Second is the fact that stained, polished leather soles are prettier than rubber soles ever could be. But, you say, what does it matter? The pretty leather soles get scraped up and soiled as soon as you wear them outside. This is true, I respond, but they're still prettier in the store, which is important. Not in practical terms, of course. Third is the fact that leather is traditional, while rubber is new-fangled. Why should this matter? Well, I don't know, but it does. Fourth is the fact that rubber soles are cheaper than leather (I think), and isn't more expensive better? :icon_smile_wink: I'm sure that there's a fifth, sixth, and seventh reason, but I've pretty much run out of gas.

  4. #3
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    Leather breathes better than rubber. So my feet are sweatier in rubber soled shoes.
    Last edited by trolperft; March 13th, 2007 at 23:19.

  5. #4
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    Talking

    On top of all other reasons,
    leather soles sound better when you walk.

    Also,
    it's really hard to get rubber sole right in brown shades.

    That said, there are some nice rubber soled shoes, so there is nothing wrong with them per se. Leather soles are just better in most cases, but both types have a space in a quality wardrobe.
    Last edited by hreljan; March 13th, 2007 at 22:52.
    -Ex falso quodlibet-

  6. #5
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    Ask Andy demonstrates a strong bias for goods built on tradition. Leather soled shoes fit this criteria. My other theory is that the American shoes many members prefer on this forum employ Vibram soles rather than the thinner Dainite versions used by many British manufacturers.
    Yet another starving grad student... wearing English shoes.

  7. #6
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    Default Well ...

    there are nice looking sporty kind of shoes with rubber soles. And they may be found cheap (nameless brands in Russia). Also, English manufacturers make rubber soled winter shoes.

    The thing is that in Moscow, where it is cold for a very substantial part of the year, and not generally clean, your shoes get spoilt. And even the very trad AAAC-member will tire of doing re-soles on the shoes.

    So - it's either you buy something ugly and with pointy/ square toes made God-knows-where or wear thick sole rubber English-made or other decent footwear for bad weather (and then even Gucci makes thick-soled shoes) OR wear a Timberland or something similar and then change.

    I AM STRONGLY AGAINST buying leather soled shoes and putting a thin slice of rubber on it - that's sacrilege. But a very popular way of going about our weather. And many ladies do this to their shoes - but if you buy a Gina and then resole it ????

    Andrey

  8. #7
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    Ah, the dilemmas we struggle with. I too prefer leather soles and even try to preserve that new look as long as possible but one does have to occasionally touch the ground when walking. That said, the weather often dictates that I be more practical. My lug-soled Gucci loafers have survived walking in snow and rain and while they are rather ugly I can still wear them to work and look better than 90% of my colleagues. Some may advocate Tingley rubbers or changing shoes but I don't have that much time in my 12-14 hour work days. I have my eye on these rubber soled Alden shell cordovans (from Leather Soul) for rainy days.


  9. #8
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    Leather is just beautiful and lends itself to great craftsmanship. I live in the Pacific Northwest where the reality is that I HAVE to have several pairs of Trasks and Eccos to wear in the wet weather. I do not like to slosh around in the water, with leather soled shoes unless, on occasion, I choose to wear rubbers or galoshes.

    Leather to me gives me a great contact with the earth. It sounds nice to have a leather step, and I feel like a more classic man with more mature tastes knowing that I am part of an old cobblery tradition.

    Then again, I love Wallabees and crepe soled desert shoes and Birkenstocks.
    Last edited by arturostevens; March 14th, 2007 at 06:38. Reason: bad typing

  10. #9
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    Our decided preference for leather soled shoes, IMHO, comes down to asthetics...it generally just looks better. From a practical perspective rubber soles provide better traction/grip, they are arguably more comfortable on days when one must do more walking, they are more flexible and they wear much better (read longer) than comparable leather soles...and yet we prefer leather. We may slip and fall on our butts; our feet may hurt like he**; and we spend good money replacing our leather soles, on a more frequent basis but, my oh my, don't we look good! (wink!) Good morning gentleman...it is going to be a great day!
    Last edited by eagle2250; March 14th, 2007 at 03:50. Reason: correction

  11. #10
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    No one should ever wear good leather-soled shoes to walk through the slush of melted snow and sidewalk salt.

    That said, rubber-soled shoes are unnecessary, in bad weather, if you wear rubber overshoes.
    Last edited by Isaac Mickle; March 14th, 2007 at 05:00.

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  13. #11
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    This is purely anecdotal, based on my own experience, but I think the interior footbed of shoes with leather soles hold up better than those with rubber soles.

    I have been told the reason for this is that the insoles of leather-soled shoes dry from both sides, while the rubber soled variety only dry from one.

    This could be hogwash, but it seems to have played out in my experience. That said, the rubber soled shoes I own are generally of lesser quality, so who knows?

  14. #12
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    Leather's prettier and I love the clicking when walking. That's enough reasons for me!

  15. #13
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    Jcusey's accurate remarks notwithstanding, I prefer good rubber soles to leather soles, so I may be the exception. Don't misunderstand me, a rubber sole on what I consider to be the perfect dress shoe, the EG Newberry wholecut, would look goofy for example. Pictures I have seen of the EG Dover with Dainite soles, also look goofy to me. I do not think the Dainite sole is that comfortable by the way, and it is not so practical. Those little circles collect a lot of dirt that is hard to remove.

    I think that thick rubber soles are more comfortable for long walks than leather soles. I do not think leather soles "breathe more" which I think is just silly. If it lets water out, how is it going to prevent water from getting in? I think leather soles do absorb a certain amount of water and so do not last as long in bad weather as rubber does.

    There is a limit to how thick a leather sole can be, for example the triple sole on my Weston Hunt Derby is not nearly as thick as the Medway sole on my Dundee. And elevating the feet above the muck is one of the principle ways that all-weather shoes weather-proof your feet. Their weather-proof welts, which cannot be perfect, have to resist far less moisture when they are above it all. So rubber soles can be more weather resistant than the finest leather soles for this reason at least. The weather-proof quality of rubber lies not in its imperviousness to water, but in its height. A leather soled shoe with a high quality sole is not going to allow water in through the sole anyway, but the welt. The leather might absorb water, but this does not mean it transmits it to your foot, unless of course you are really getting soaked for a long time, which would obviously be unusual.

    But the comfort issue is the most important to me, and if I had my druthers, my derbies would all have Medway soles. I think wholecuts, oxfords, and monks look silly with rubber soles. I may be forgetting a type or two. But this is an aesthetic issue.

    By the way, while leather soles always look more elegant to me than rubber soles, I FEEL more elegant in the rain with a Medway, sort of condescending to all the people with wet feet. And while thick black lug soles do look clunky, not all rubber soles are created equal. I think the Medway and Ridgeway soles look fabulous, and the nicotine-colored mini-lug sole available from Vibram and standard issue on the Weston boat shoe caricature, looks very nice, particularly in summer.

    By the way, I HATE combo soles like Alden puts on their walking models. I do not think they have the elegance of leather soles, and I do not think they afford the benefits of rubber soles. Toppies are similar, I don't see the point (except for maybe grip).

  16. #14
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    It's the sound. The crisp "clack-clack" of leather beats the dull thud of rubber, unless there is a particular need for stealth.

    It's raining here, the snow is melting, and the place is a sea of mud. I have three pairs of rubber-soled J & Ms from STP, thrift and eBay, respectively, that I bought expressly for this weather.

    I've thought about rubbers but haven't done it yet.

  17. #15
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    It's the sound. The crisp "clack-clack" of leather beats the dull thud of rubber, unless there is a particular need for stealth.


    This is quite a shock to many people: they're just not used to the sound. In my current job and previously, people always used to say 'we know when you're coming, we can hear you a mile off' or talk about my 'really heavy walk' or ask 'was I in the army?' etc.

    I also notice that some floor surfaces nowadays are lethal when wearing leather soled shoes: I suspect the specifier or architect never even thought that anybody would wear anything other than rubber on their feet.

  18. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackmccullough View Post
    Can someone explain the negative opinion of rubber soled shoes in this forum? Is it something about the look, such as how thick they are; or the perceived quality, durability, or comfort; or is it just that people consider rubber soles not wrong in themselves, but evidence of inferior materials or construction quality in other aspects of the shoe; or is it simply that they violate a principle that some people have that men's shoes "should" have leather soles?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

    Your answer lies on your question: "In this forum?"

    There is much positive to be gained from the information here at Ask Andy, but at one point one must be able to differentiate gainful information and purely bias opinion.

    Of the seventy plus pairs of shoes I own very few are rubber soled, but with all the rain we get in the Pacific Northwest it's very nice to be able to put on my Allen Edmonds "Bergland," (black cap toe) or Allen Edmonds "Wilbert," (rustic brown Norwegian front handsewn split toe) rather than a pair of four or five hundred dollar "Shells." Besides with so many wonderful French, (Mephisto) British, (Churches, Grinson, etc. etc. etc.) American, (Allen Edmonds, Alden) rubber or non leather soled shoes why limit one's self!

    Now I don't recall ever having worn a pair of rubber soled shoes with a suit, but hey that's just my two centavos!

    Take the very useful information to be gained from this site and recognize what is not.

    Regards,

    Bill Woodward
    Portland, Oregon
    Last edited by 127.72 MHz; March 14th, 2007 at 07:24.

  19. #17
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    Aren't rubber soles harder to replace when worn out?

    Also, my leather soled shoes are more comfortable than my rubber shoes, not sure if that is a question of soles or of manufacturer... But it would make sense, as the leather eventually forms to you feet..?

    I also find that leather soles are better when walking around the office (we have rugs) where I get cought up in the rug with rubber soled AE, I can more around easier with my leather soled AE (especially when cornering)...

    And appart from that, like the other said; it breathes better, looks better and sounds better.

  20. #18
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    Also, and this is a purely precitical consideration, since leather is harder than rubber it provides a more stable platform. I wear leather soles for walking since my rubber sole shoes tire my feet faster because the tend to allow for more "rocking" that is side-to-side deflection when I walk. My podiatrist recommended leather soles for this reason.

  21. #19
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    Default personal preference

    Most of the time I would recommend leather for show, rubber for go.

    There are days when it is helpful to be "stealthy" at work (silent rubber soles), but the custodians will tell you that the black marks from rubber shoes irk them no end.
    "Experience teaches only the teachable." A. Huxley

  22. #20
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    My very first post on this forum, the better part of three years ago, was almost a duplicate of Jack's question. We've had quite a few similar threads since then. I'm surprised medwards hasn't posted some links already.

    A few thoughts of my own: A gentleman needs both rubber- and leather-soled shoes to be well dressed in all situations.

    I put thin, discreet, dressy rubber soles in an altogether different category of sartorial elegance from the thick rubber soles that are really only appropriate for sporting and ultra-casual wear.

    As my tastes have become more refined, I would now only wear rubber soles with a suit in foul weather. Nothwithstanding the dictates of friend Manton to the contrary in "The Suit," I will wear the dressier variety of rubber-soled shoes with a sport coat and tie. (I will also wear black shoes with a sport coat, also in violation of his dicta, although mostly to get some wear out of the black bluchers I bought before I knew better.)

    I think rubber-soled shoes look better for a very casual look. For example, today I am wearing a plaid flannel shirt and khakis with my brown A-E Wilberts. (I didn't go to the office today.) I think most (although not all) leather-soled shoes would be sartorially incongruous with so casual an outfit.

    For normal urban wear with a moderate amount of walking, I see little difference in comfort between leather and rubber soles. If a lot of miles are to be covered, I'd give the edge to rubber soles, ceteris paribus. Leather soles are cooler in summer heat. However, at least at my office, if the outside temperature hits 75 or so, they crank up the air conditioning to sub-arctic levels, so keeping my feet cool is not a priority. It is also why I exercise the option of wearing coat and tie even on the hottest days of summer.

  23. #21
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    For casual attire I have a few rubber soled shoes especially for poor weather conditions, In fact one of my favorite casual shoes are my Timberland hand sewn boat shoes with their rubber lug soles
    Last edited by satorstyle; March 14th, 2007 at 16:58.

  24. #22
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    i for one HATE rubber soles-




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    If you spend most of your time on carpeted floors leather creates no problems. But those of us who spend a lot of time on hard floor find leather much more likely to slip, leading to a fall. And leather is noisy, sometimes disturbingly so. From time to time I have to head for the hospital at 3AM--nothing like leather on the stairs to wake the wife up. I suspect those trying to sneak in at 3AM have a similar concern. Leather heels and soles are best for dry and dressy situations and carpeted floors. I can't carry an extra pair of shoes and change when I have to go directly from the office to dinner. If I had a cobbler anywhere close by, I'd have topys and rubber heels put on all but my PAs.
    Always First Class, Never full price

  26. #24
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    Your gait isn't the same. You look and feel lighter on your feet with leather soles. Rubber makes you lope, because it doesn't slip. Remember how creepers made you walk?

  27. #25
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    Leather soles hold the edge of the sole better over time. The shoe looks better over time than the warping scruffy looking rubber. To me the perfect sole would be a leather edge and rubber center.

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