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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just been mailing Weinheimer about which companies they supply in UK and this was the reply -

"
Yes of course Simon,

it’s Church, Crockett and Jones, Grenson, Sargent, Barker, Tricker and Lobb.
Sorry, what are you doing? Why you are so interested?

Best Regards
Uwe

Interesting when you think of the LARGE price difference between Barker & Lobb

Calf leather will largely be similar regardless of the process. So it looks like Lobb are charging 400% more on name and quality difference. That's A LOT to justify.

Does anyone think the difference is that marked?
 

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Weinheimer, along with all other tanneries, produce various grades of hides as the skins are purchased from various abattoir (which could be anywhere in the world) and until they are processed the quality of the finished skin is an unknown quantity - think of the difference between a 21 day aged aberdeen angus steak and a standard vacuum sealed piece of pink beef at the supermarket. So, when two companies purchase from the same source the difference can be quite marked.

The next factor to take into account is the individual hide as certain parts, like the central strip along the backbone and the rump, are of better quality than parts like the shoulder which generally have stretch marks or other flaws. The list of companies Weinheimer supplied pretty much covers all the factories left in the uk who then produce for other brands, so more prestigious lines will use the better cuts while their cheaper customers use the scrag end to cut costs.

Leather is not like cotton, like snowflakes no two skins are ever the same and can not be produced in a standardised way even if it is supplied by the same tannery, so considering all of this you can begin to see why prices can vary wildly. Weinheimer leather is not Freudenberg leather, it is apparantly made using the same process but the quality is not the same.
 

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Weinheimer, along with all other tanneries, produce various grades of hides as the skins are purchased from various abattoir (which could be anywhere in the world) and until they are processed the quality of the finished skin is an unknown quantity - think of the difference between a 21 day aged aberdeen angus steak and a standard vacuum sealed piece of pink beef at the supermarket. So, when two companies purchase from the same source the difference can be quite marked.

The next factor to take into account is the individual hide as certain parts, like the central strip along the backbone and the rump, are of better quality than parts like the shoulder which generally have stretch marks or other flaws. The list of companies Weinheimer supplied pretty much covers all the factories left in the uk who then produce for other brands, so more prestigious lines will use the better cuts while their cheaper customers use the scrag end to cut costs.

Leather is not like cotton, like snowflakes no two skins are ever the same and can not be produced in a standardised way even if it is supplied by the same tannery, so considering all of this you can begin to see why prices can vary wildly. Weinheimer leather is not Freudenberg leather, it is apparantly made using the same process but the quality is not the same.
Thank you for this detailed information. I find it very interesting, and it certainly pertains directly to the OP. While I hardly know very much about shoe making, I do know a little about markets and marketing. At least enough to know that prices are far more market dependent than cost dependent. So in addition to the likelyhood the Lobb may be using better materials for their shoes, not to mention possibly greater cost for the expertise that goes into the making, they are certainly selling to a different market than many of makes named.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Variance in leather quality wouldn't persuade me of the difference in price; the consistency of the leather is likely to be similar on the whole hide. Whilst there may be some difference, it's not likely to be 3-400%. You then get down to production costs. Of course, at the end of the day companies can charge what they like, if people will buy the value of what is being sold.
 

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Variance in leather quality wouldn't persuade me of the difference in price; the consistency of the leather is likely to be similar on the whole hide.
Any shoe manufacturer will have one or more leather buyers on their staff. His (or her) task is to source the best leather at a given price. They will decide if they stop buying a particular range from tannery X and start getting supplies from tannery Y. They also are likely to go to the tannery and select the hides right there. The buyers of Hermes are feared as they are likely to reject 80 % of all the hides offered and select only the few they like. (Because of Hermes' prestige, they are allowed to do that).

Every tannery offers every leather in three different grades and at three different price points, depending on the imperfections within a particular hide. It is the task of the 'clicker' (cutter) to cut those imperfections away, or, at least, have them at a part of the shoe where they are somewhat hidden. Most exposed part of a shoe is the vamp (forepart) which will need the best leather; on the inside quarter (side piece),you can get away with some blemishes.

Another sign of quality is that all the parts of a particular pair are cut from the same hide. Manufacturers who want to save, cut as many pieces as possible from one hide, then as many pieces again from another; so that the finished pair of shoes is made from the leather of several animals. John Lobb (RTW) claims that, at least for their St Crispin annual edition shoe, one pair is cut from one hide with everything left, ending up on the floor. Surely a very wasteful way of making a pair.

There is more to quality than just the supplier of the leathers.
 

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Simj, let me give you a concrete example.

Leather has something called 'growth' - these are stress marks along the leather from a growing animal, and leather can also have other imperfections.

A shoe maker can generally cust 3-4 shoes from one regular piece of leather. Lobb chooses to cut only one shoe from one piece of leather only cutting pieces without impefections.

Lobb then resells those pieces to other shoe makers who can get another 1-3 shoes out of it.

I'm not saying you think it's worth it, or it justifies the large price gap.. but it is a real increase in operating costs... and just one of the higher costs Lobb absorbs.
 

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Simj, your initial post would suggest that you considered origin of the leather to be the predominant factor in the cost of a finished shoe, hence my reply intended to inform you of how variable this one small part of shoemaking can be. Your second post I have to find fault with however, because your claim that leather will be consistent throughout the hide is just wrong; I work in the bespoke shoe industry and would only consider 30-40% suitable for use in shoe uppers, the rest used for linings or for students.

If you have decided to compare manufacturing processes as an indication of cost however, then you will be closer to the true value behind what companies charge; a Savile Row suit costs about a hundred pounds in material terms, but the expertise is priceless - and the same goes for shoes. It seems to me that you reason that a shoe is a shoe is a shoe, it simply isn't that clear cut I'm afraid.

p.s. As an aside, with regard to Lobb RTW's claims that one shoe utilises a single hide's best features with the rest ending up on the floor - this may be true, but whether or not that leather on the floor then makes it's way to another part of the factory and into another shoe wouldn't make such good copy for the catalogue eh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Simj, your initial post would suggest that you considered origin of the leather to be the predominant factor in the cost of a finished shoe, hence my reply intended to inform you of how variable this one small part of shoemaking can be. Your second post I have to find fault with however, because your claim that leather will be consistent throughout the hide is just wrong; I work in the bespoke shoe industry and would only consider 30-40% suitable for use in shoe uppers, the rest used for linings or for students.
I hear you. My point is of course there will always be a charge for the expertise in crafting the shoe; however how much of the final shoe quality is attributable to this and the quality of the leather in the additional mark up of various cobblers.

Who do you work for BTW?
 

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In terms of expertise, the task a clicker is faced with is to utilise the most suitable parts of a skin as possible, and this is dictated by the economy of the firm/customer they are working for - on a tight budget you could possibly squeeze 20 vamps from one hide in contrast to 3 or 4 in the finest handmade to measure shoes (this is of particular importance in handmade shoemaking as lasting is done by hand with leather that has not been mechanically "mulled" and will be most difficult to work with if not prepared correctly, without even considering how it will behave once worn by the customer if the uppers stretch in the wrong place..).

Don't forget, clicking is just one aspect of the process, is the last made to measure? Is the pattern for the upper a one off? How much handwork is involved, is it a handstitched upper? Is the sole hand welted, goodyear welted, blake stitched or simply stuck on with glue? The list goes on and on. So long as you steer clear of "fashion" brands that have no previous connection with footwear, you generally do get what you pay for with regards to the price you pay for shoes.
 
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