Has Vass Lost Its Soul

Thruth

Big Winter Daddy
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This has been rattling around my brain for some time.

By virtue of the combination of quality and price Vass has become over time a darling amongst iGents and others outside of the forum and blog world.

Where else can you order high quality MTO footwear with minimal waiting time and price as compared to say EG and JL?

But - and this is my opinion and I look forward to the thoughts of others - I think this accommodation of iGents has caused them to lose their soul and turn their backs on their AH roots.

The typical iGent commission heavily favours wholesale copying of English and Italian designs. The choice of U & K last far outweighs that of the F - which is kind of English already - as well as the traditional AH shaped lasts (3636, Peter, New Peter, and on).

Moreover, the iGent penchant for atypical juxtapositions of material and colours have taken them further afield. Unbalanced HAF soles even.

Now from a business point of view they are thriving. But it seems they have turned their backs on tradition.

EG and JL limit this kind of wholesale bastardization by way of limited MTO options, high price and significant waiting times. You don't see them adding a Budapester last to their stable. Same for G&G, they stay true to their roots only tweaking their standards with Deco and bespoke exaggeration but they remain recognizable whereas Vass is a chameleon.

Has Vass' catering to the MTO crowd's whims caused them to lose their AH soul or is this simply a natural progression based on their successful business model?
 
generally speaking. thank you for bringing it up. fwiw, the vass thread will simultanously and mostly unintentional deliver.
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http://www.styleforum.net/t/130044/the-ultimate-vass-porn-thread/11550#post_7197558

Much of the hand-wringing we have seen of late on the forum on the issue of balance is so much of a tempest in a teapot, IMO.
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au contraire. it has just begun. as the good old saying goes: ignorance doesn't protect you from punishment - true dat
 
The Italian "U" and "F" lasts were, we're told, agreed by Pa Vass through gritted teeth: he wanted to sell more shoes, his buyers said there are only so many clunky Budapesters a man needs, so give us some options, and here we are. "R" is the "English" last, by the way. Personally, I like the combinations, and don't see anything more strange about Vass making Italian-ish lasts than Allen Edmonds making Norwegers. In any case, Vass's lasts are I think still quite distinctly different.

What I find reassuring, if frustrating on occasion, is that Pa Vass is still perfectly happy to fly in the face of convention for reasons of shoemaking integrity: he's decided, for example, that shell cordovan will not last and age well if stretched over the right-angled toe of their true Budapest last, so he's just flatly refused to make them. Likewise he will no longer make shell NST's, for a related reason apparently - he thinks shell will eventually split at those large apron stitches as it's too rigid, and he doesnt' want his shoes looking badly-made even in ten years' time. So I have no issues with Vass's sincerity in wanted to make great shoes.

They are walking a dangerous ground with their flexibility in combining colours, in that some people will always throw stones when a product doesn't look like their idea of what it should be. But personally I don't care a bit if they want to make red and yellow K-last knee-length austerity brogue budapester boots - or rather someone wants them to. As Larry Flynt's lawyer said, "you can't legislate taste". Vass's own make-ups are pretty tasteful, and the odd peculiarity ordered by one of our iGent friends, or punted on eBay at a fat mark-up by Ascot Shoes, doesn't undermine what the product is. All in all, I really like Vass, both for the quality they offer, and the personal service of dealing daily with a named individual on what you can and can't have.

The other question was where else one could find a quick and high-quality MTO service for a good price. Meermin isn't reliable on either, even with a decent price, so I'd rule them out as a direct alternative. But I've heard good things about the other Hungarians - Buday, Rozsnyai, there's Kielman in Warsaw and that hundred and fifty year old guy on the same street, though those might require a visit, and there's Antonio Mecciarello, who is highly praised. If and when I get around to trying them, I'll let you know.

Indeed the R last is the English last by Vass' definition. We don't see a lot of R makeups on the forums. I was just trying to differentiate by saying the F's round shape is far less severe than say the K and somewhere between the EG 202 and 82. While the standard Vass makeups are tasteful, again, we don't see them posted as much as concoctions that reflect the minds eye of the purchaser.

Meccariello has only recently been discovered by the forumites and does represent a similar combination of high quality, value for price, great customer service and short turnaround.

I guess I am trying to say that the business decision to sell more shoes has in a short period of time fundamentally changed what Vass once was and I wonder what other maker has gone through such a shift away from their roots.
 
Indeed the R last is the English last by Vass' definition.

not sure about that. I can ask their lastmaker, though.

here is a top view comparing the R with the Modified by Alden. poor soul bought it through one of the sf proxies and couldn't return them. it's a difficult fit due its straightness and less curvature like let's say their own P2 or the like of 2o2/82 from EG.

r-ml.jpg


I guess I am trying to say that the business decision to sell more shoes has in a short period of time fundamentally changed what Vass once was and I wonder what other maker has gone through such a shift away from their roots.

fwiw, their lastmaker didn't mention a signifcant increase of total numbers whithin the recent years. probably a shifting among the various lasts.

remember what I told you about a shoemaker who claimed that his daily business changed from a local clientele to international customers. now, he copies a lot of styles which do not belong to the family business heritage. plus, the fact that a lot of these people have damaged feet due their shopping habits were driven by the looks and not the fit of their footwear. o-tone: I'm a shoemaker and not a magician. combined with a slight language barrier the communication got a lot more difficult.

anyway. the vass thread will deliver...
 
I guess they decided that being a small starving artisan is all very well, but selling stuff and being successful has its attractions too! Or to put it another way, I think their roots are still solid, even if the flowers aren't all to your taste.

Mimo, I do not begrudge them making their business strong. There has been no drop off in quality AFAIK. Customer service is still solid. Interesting though, the use of the HAF sole is almost automatic for them it seems. I asked for double soles on two pairs of boots and got HAF on both.

But, they come from the AH tradition which has lasts and shapes much different than anyone else. Their business decision to sell more shoes was sound and their roots might be solid but if they once sprouted carnations they are now sprouting chrysanthemums.

Actually I am not pining for the old shapes myself necessarily. It is more of a philosophical argument about the loss of the visible AH traditional styling cues from one of the most accessible AH makers.
 
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I asked for double soles on two pairs of boots and got HAF on both.

for me it would be disappointing that I have to specify the traditional method. that it finally went "wrong" is a different story, imo.
 
for me it would be disappointing that I have to specify the traditional method. that it finally went "wrong" is a different story, imo.

I think this underscores what I am trying to say here. The fact that the default is non-traditional says a great deal. That shift in default is the result of the MTO crowd at the expense of tradition. Not to mention the technical issue of an unbalanced shoe as a result.
 
I think this underscores what I am trying to say here. The fact that the default is non-traditional says a great deal. That shift in default is the result of the MTO crowd at the expense of tradition. Not to mention the technical issue of an unbalanced shoe as a result.

exactly
 
It is more of a philosophical argument about the loss of the visible AH traditional styling cues from one of the most accessible AH makers.

here is a pair from the current buday line up. afaik, their shop is just down the road from Vass.

buday.jpg
 
source: parisian gentleman, november 2013

Vass was founded in Budapest, Hungary, by the eponymous bootmaker. Slowly building up a very good reputation since a few years, mostly thanks to the English-speaking forum community, Vass has made a name for itself amongst shoe lovers around the world, amateurs and connoisseurs alike.

The reason for this enthusiasm is simple : the Hungarian house offers entirely handmade shoes for less than 500 euros.

The house models remain very classic, although how could we not mention the « U-shaped » model, developed by the brilliant Roberto Ugolini, that became one of the house’s signature models, and which is rather unusually distinctive. The designs are overall elegant, and the leather quality is decent.

Of course, the finishing touches could be perfected, but this is only a slight fault that is to be expected from handmade shoes in this price range; yet, this point is ‘ nitpicking ‘ considering the final product’s undeniable appeal.

The flip side, however, would be the house’s questionable quality control, or even its somewhat random overall organization which is rather embarrassing for such an acclaimed house. In this regard, Vass is the textbook example of a brand whose praises have been loudly sung by the fora and, as a result, that has quickly faced logistical problems and delivery delays due to a fast increasing demand and higher level of expectations.

That being said, when Vass’s shoes meet the said expectations – and they most certainly do the vast majority of the time – their irrefutable charm makes you understand what the fuss is all about.

+ + : The quality/price ratio, handmade appeal, and the very kind Mr. Kuti (sales director).

- – : Finishing touches, quality assurance, and logistical issues (despite a lot of good will).
 
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Vass is a marketing phenomen. long before the iron curtain fell down, they started with brand ambassadors. one of their "supporters" was the investement legend André Kostolany. the list of testimonials is long and prominent.

me myself, I follow Vass roughly more than thirty years, when I saw a tv-production from german television. ffwd, in 1999, I visited Vass the first and only time in my life. we've been a group of four and one of my peers bought a pair, which is still going strong. what's been fascinating on this early summer Budapest saturday. the phone never stood still and the german clients orderd their shell budapesters in bulk. I would estimate around 50 pairs in the single hour we spent there... At that time, I thought I would return and get me a pair of these shoes.

the clothing boards destroyed my illusions and I really don't know, if I will ever return to this disney world of former Austro-Hungarian shoemaking glory...
 
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source: parisian gentleman, november 2013

Vass was founded in Budapest, Hungary, by the eponymous bootmaker. Slowly building up a very good reputation since a few years, mostly thanks to the English-speaking forum community, Vass has made a name for itself amongst shoe lovers around the world, amateurs and connoisseurs alike.

what shouldn't be forgotten, when "we" talk about Vass. in order to fulfill the demand on the market, they increased the number of their distribution channels. this caused a naturally change of target groups and I assume this is one reason of the shifting within styles.

ps: here is the link to the comprehensive write up about some popular shoe brands around the globe. a must read for the ambitious shoe enthusiast or soon to be. enjoy.

http://parisiangentleman.co.uk/2013/11/13/pgs-recommendations-the-2013-shoes-edition/
 
So, maybe I should not lament the loss of their soul as it is clear that in a very short period of time they saw a market niche and responded to the demand of their customers. It seems less of a problem to them than I make it out to be. There are enough other AH makers that the loss of Vass is inconsequential.

Maybe their gift to the world is affordable, high quality, handmade footwear. Full stop.

Natural selection and the strong survive.

Interesting where M. Jacomet places Vass in his article.
 
I think he's listed them in reverse order of average price, rather than any more complex assessment of value.

Also, I don't think you can say Vass has been "lost" to the realm of AH makers: they do, after all, still make their traditional styles. But as I said, I fear they may be headed for a backlash if their swift service and pricing changes as a result of being overwhelmed with iGent special orders. Heaven forbid the quality drops too.

That would be truly unfortunate should any or all of those things happen.

Yes, ordering according to price. But comparing Vass to others that will not be mentioned that have no negatives attached to them.
 
There are enough other AH makers that the loss of Vass is inconsequential.

hold your horses. you picked Vass due its most popular on the boards.

the shifting hits a lot of the AH makers. just look at the Buday number above.

fwiw, I've been told by a famous shoemaker that Vass already started with GYW. he couldn't tell the ratio, but its real. face it.

fortunately, no pun intended, there's a popular thread to catch up with the news...
 
So, maybe I should not lament the loss of "their" soul...

the next one ready to shift... ...must not happen, but the invitation to the igents is there.

source: keikari

Interview with Sándor Rozsnyai in parts, excerpt by yours truly.

I made classic shoes from the beginning, but I started the Rozsnyai brand with top-quality materials and finishing about 10 years ago. We still produce the traditional, classic models, complemented with more modern and exotic leather ones. I have always wanted to make timeless shoes that are wearable anytime. I’ve gathered my knowledge first through my family, later in school, and got the highest available degree in the Hungarian shoe industry. Our models are a little bit mixed: besides the traditional, classic, well-known models, we produce many pointed italian styles, modern pairs and special leather shoes. With Rozsnyai, classic meets contemporary. I am a maximalist: the pursuit of perfection motivates me.


In our shop the customer isn’t restricted to the display models, we also make MTM and bespoke shoes. You can come in from the street with a prior shoe or a drawing, with an idea, and we make it reality. Instead of well-known shoemakers, we don’t make shoes in bulk amounts; we have preserved the guild-like company form, so we can pay as much attention to every pair of shoes as they require. Our shoes are not just nice, they are comfortable as well. We also produce orthopedic shoes, all made to measure, so we have a lot of experience making shoes for all kinds of feet.
 
Yes I picked Vass because it is the most recognizable AH maker to most people on the forums. I also picked them because unlike most other established makers their original purpose has radically changed.

Ok then, so Vass' shift is influencing other makers and they are moving away from tradition too.

Now they are doing Goodyear and the rumour is confirmed. Another nail in the coffin. Or is it?

This thread started with a philosophical question as to if Vass had lost their AH soul. This confirms that, no? Although until they stop making shoes on traditional lasts it still will be part of what they do even if just a shadow.

I'm off to the new thread to see what else I'm missing!
 
Yes I picked Vass because it is the most recognizable AH maker to most people on the forums. I also picked them because unlike most other established makers their original purpose has radically changed.

Ok then, so Vass' shift is influencing other makers and they are moving away from tradition too.

Now they are doing Goodyear and the rumour is confirmed. Another nail in the coffin. Or is it?

This thread started with a philosophical question as to if Vass had lost their AH soul. This confirms that, no? Although until they stop making shoes on traditional lasts it still will be part of what they do even if just a shadow.

I'm off to the new thread to see what else I'm missing!

no, the shift is due to the globalization and the access to these makers. the shift for all these makers is routet by their "new" clientele. as you said, some are more affected than the others. it's on the way...

there's not a new thread. I was talking about the existing Vass thread on sf. you can add the AH thread, which is already "spammed" with shoes, which do not belong to the AH heritage. repeated reports to the mods were to no avail. I assume this is a job for Harry Falcon.

fwiw, I'm glad for this particular thread here, as I prefer a philosophical approach to shoes of any kind. for me this is the bread and butter.
 
The nice thing is that this channel is not cluttered with postings about "hey look what I just got in the post"

Inevitably the market dictates what becomes of companies. Clearly the ability to access products online has pushed the globalization effect exponentially.

Maybe what is more important is the preservation of the traditional methods of craftsmanship. If we are to believe Rozsnyai he want to maintain the traditional approach whether he is making a Budapester or a pointy cockroach killer.
 
The nice thing is that this channel is not cluttered with postings about "hey look what I just got in the post"
indeed

Inevitably the market dictates what becomes of companies. Clearly the ability to access products online has pushed the globalization effect exponentially.

Maybe what is more important is the preservation of the traditional methods of craftsmanship. If we are to believe Rozsnyai he wants to maintain the traditional approach whether he is making a Budapester or a pointy cockroach killer.

imo, all of these makers want to do so, which is definitely a good thing. let's see how long this can be preserved. I guess the cockroach killers are made for a competition as it requires a lot of skills. needless to say that they are hideous.

alright, I got a dinkelacker in from a customer and the welt was damaged. assuming that they are handwelted it looked like a routine job. I took them to the workshop. guess what? a gemming failure. no handwork at all. he claimed them at the shop, where he bought them, but no response yet.
 
Interesting that you have seen gemming failures IRL. How old were the shoes
 
indeed



imo, all of these makers want to do so, which is definitely a good thing. let's see how long this can be preserved

So there appears to be a strong drive amongst a new generation of Japanese to become cordwainers. They are apprenticing across Europe and turning out - as reported - traditional hand-crafted shoes for the home market and for the world. Even setting up bespoke shops in Italy like Il Miceo.

Is this a cultural thing or have they sensed that there is a market in Japan for this? There is a history of Japanese companies and artisans reproducing historical pieces of Americana: workwear, military, work boots, denim, period clothing eg. The Real McCoys, Buzz Rickson. They dig old U.S. gunboats.

Is it just that Japan has an appetite for this kind of thing?
 
Interesting that you have seen gemming failures IRL. How old were the shoes

yep. quite an experience. this pair was five years old. what's been more "shocking" that they were simply not handmade. I talked to the SA in the shop and she was flabbergasted. not their fault, for sure.
 
Is it just that Japan has an appetite for this kind of thing?

I'm aware of this. actually you can do worse than working/apprenticing in the nicest cities of europe. also, they can anticipate that their fellow countrymen will become either client of the workshop or their own workshop be it in japan or europe. this is pretty unique to the japanese.

tbh, europeans are too lazy for the hard work of a craftsmen. that's why some of the trades are dying or already died. it's a shame.
 
yep. quite an experience. this pair was five years old. what's been more "shocking" that they were simply not handmade. I talked to the SA in the shop and she was flabbergasted. not their fault, for sure.

Certainly goes against the belief that they are all handmade.
 
Certainly goes against the belief that they are all handmade.

this particular pair, which was from an upscale line, wasn't even gyw and had a fake welt. disgusting. € 550 retail - a piece of junk.

ps: tomorrow, we should dig into my pet peeve the inevitable HAF sole. what do you think?
 
If not GY, what?

it's been machine stitched but not around the frame, hence the fake welt. tbh, I forgot to ask the guy in the workshop if there is a name. he sort of refused to give it one in the first place. so we just went ahead in the assessement as the fault was clearly visible. understandable?
 

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