the dark side of Florsheim Imperial Kenmoor v cleat wingtips - an investigation

Discussion in 'Men's Clothing' started by The Shooman, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. The Shooman

    The Shooman A Pretty Face

    Have you ever wondered why the older Florsheims used the heavily nailed heels on the double soled wingtips?
    V cleat florsheim.jpg

    One big reason was because those gunboats used a solid piece of plastic directly under the top part of the heal. In order to make the leather top part stick on they needed to use lots of nails to attach it to the plastic heel.

    If you look at most Florsheim you will find the heel attached to be plastic! Underneath that plastic is the leather sole attached. Even the shoes made in the 1950's have this, and indeed some other 1950's gunboat manufacturers have plastic heels also.

    Florsheim for some strange reason wanted to cut costs on such a beautiful shoe, so they made the weird decision to use plastic in the major part of the heel, BUT they encountered a problem, that is...the top part of the heel would come unstuck, so they ended up using multiple nails in the heal to attach it solidly to the plastic underneath.

    Now, according to this article the Kenmoors that used this famous heel were first made in 1958, so what did the gunboat heels look like in the 1940's and before? Were they heavily nailed, and when did Florsheim first start using plastic in their heels?

    Of course you will see some gunboats with an all leather heel, but me thinks these were cobblers replacing the plastic heels with leather after a repair job was done. Many old pics do indeed show plastic heels. All my old Florsheim Imperial v cleat wingtips have plastic heels...they look like leather, but when studied carefully they are indeed plastic.

    The investigation continues.The theory is that those multiple nails solely exist to attach the top lift to the plastic so it can grip properly. There is lots of evidence to support this idea, and the only way to really dispute this idea is to find an NOS model that uses those multiple nails with a leather layered heel. I am really starting to think that those multiple nails exist solely for this reason, to make it easier to attach the top lift to the plastic heel.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
    TOGLIATTI likes this.
  2. OP
    The Shooman

    The Shooman A Pretty Face

    O.k...looking at some old pics l have, Florsheim did use a row of nails on their 1955 hand welted gunboat, but is the heel plastic or leather?...hard to say looking at this pic.

    Also, notice how well secured the storm welt (L welt) is secured against the upper on the hand welted shoe below compared to the silly storm welts (t welts) Florsheim used on the goodyear welted shoes after the 1950's. It was a real storm welt...kept the water out, where-as most of the guboats you see by Florsheim used silly t welts that were machine attached from the inside instead of the outside like a real storm welted shoe should be. Alden and AE are made in the silly way also, they use the silly t welts.
    Florsheim lmperial Kenmoor 1955 (proper hand welt-goiser) 1.JPG
    Florsheim lmperial Kenmoor 1955 (proper hand welt-goiser) 3.JPG

    What l need to do is ask my good friend to stick a few pins in his 40's and 50's Florsheims with multi nailed heels to see if the heels are plastic or leather.

    But evenstill....many shoes had multiple nails around the heels in those days (see above), but none to my knowledge had two rows of those heavy slugs put into them. So possibly after 1955 when they started making the Kenmoor in 1958 they started to use those heavy slugged heels with plastic as the base.

    Just thinking out a loud here. It's possible, but we need to find solid evidence. I'll try and get back to this thread.
    TOGLIATTI and sirloin like this.
  3. fxh

    fxh OG Party Suit Wearer Supporter

    I would have guessed the nails are like refined city hobnails - and the V cleat - to stop wear?
  4. prince nez

    prince nez Well-Known Member Supporter

    Why would they use a plastic heel to save a bit of money and then use twice as many (presumably expensive) brass nails to secure the top lift to the plastic bit? Surely there was some other reason to use plastic than cost.
  5. OP
    The Shooman

    The Shooman A Pretty Face

    But they don't help slow down wear. My heel wore down quickly on the florsheims, AND my Cleverley bespoke solid steel heel piece (thick and solid) wore down much faster than my normal shoe heels.

    That is the big question...why would they use a plastic heel piece to save a little bit of money??? Maybe the money saved over mass production of these shoes was more than we think.

    When you use synthetics in various parts of the shoes, it is much more difficult to keep those pieces attached because those materials don't provide much traction. Since this is the situation, using the usual amount of nails probably wasn't enough to keep the heel secure so they used lots of nails.

    There would be no common sense reason to use plastic other than cost saving measures, and hence it is one of the great wonders in shoo making history.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
  6. Great White Snark

    Great White Snark Well-Known Member

    Who cares?

    The amount of genuine NOS vintage Florsheims kicking around now must be severely depleted and the new ones are made in India rubbish so the whole topic is an exercise in futility for everyone other than a tiny niche of shoe nerds.
  7. OP
    The Shooman

    The Shooman A Pretty Face


    I am sure this issue would be of interest to the many shoo nerds out there, but it is a case of them finding the information at this forum. Maybe some will find this golden nugget of info, but maybe many won't. Regardless, l think this exposure would raise many eyebrows if they were to come across this info.

    This golden nugget has been planted here just in case. Original posts and golden nuggets make forums great. Groupthink makes forums tired and dead.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
    sirloin and fxh like this.
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