Shoe Dissections

Allen Edmonds: Norwich Monk Straps Dissection

Norwich Monk Straps (MSRP $345)

I’m going to keep this one relatively brief as I really feel like the pictures speak for themselves. Let me just say at the beginning, however, that the most interesting difference that I noticed between this and the other shoes that I’ve taken apart is that it came apart like it was made to be disassembled; and it was. Dissecting this thing felt like cleaning a gun. All the parts, namely the heel and sole, fit together so smoothly and felt like they could click back into place. When I first started doing this I was impressed by soles and heels that were more securely attached. If a heel was really stuck on I felt like it was probably a sign of quality since it certainly wasn’t going to fall off on you. But this Allen Edmonds shows you how the real skill, the real quality, lies in using just the right amounts of glue and thread, combined with the right skill and placement, to make the shoe a perfect balance between durable and serviceable. That’s mostly it. From here on out I’ll just give a few brief descriptions of what was happening at each step and a few other little things I noticed.

01 - jpGIoQO

03 - em7ki1k

This one was storm welted. You can see how the welt lips up over the upper just a bit to keep water from spashing up and getting between them. Some storm welts have a second stitch joining the welt to the upper, but this just has the one; probably for neatness of appearance. Here’s a diagram of a storm welt for anyone who’s interested: http://img.xooimage.com/files43/1/c/d/storm_welt-9b7b03.jpg

04 - ZeZUMkn

The heel! The first heel I’ve seen that is made from real leather! It’s visible already from the outside. You can see the difference in coloration between the layers of leather used to build it.

05 - T6JcXrg

Normally the first thing I do is peel back the insole / sole insert layers until I reach the true insole, but when I did it here I had an extremely hard time pulling the first layer back. Stupidly, I grabbed it with a pair of pliers and forced it. Then I saw cork. I couldn’t believe it. This was the actual insole! There’s no sole insert or padding BS. this sole has two parts: insole and outsole. Both are made of very thick leather, which makes for better padding and durability than any foam you could come up with. When I peeled back the insole I was actually peeling it away from the canvas rib that holds the welt stitches.

06 - tuHH7fP

Realizing this, I set to separating the heel. It took a bit of effort to wedge the screwdriver underneath it, but once I got it I almost popped it off in a single go. Lucky number seven, plus two staples near where the heel meets the waist. If you look closely around the edge where it’s a lighter color you can see where the leather grain flakes up and towards the back you can see some fibers. It might not be all that obvious from the picture, but this is a big chunk of leather.

07 - 8UOTTeh

…separated heel.

08 - MjYm6RV

I ran a seam ripper along the welt seam and it came apart like magic.

09 - ec2Q0nG

One interesting observation: if you ever watch the videos or see pictures of shoe manufacturing, sometimes you’ll see that the shoe is covered in what looks like cellophane in order to keep it clean during the later stages of construction. I always wondered how they were able to completely remove it as it seemed to be attached under the welt. Turns out, they can’t.

10 - 3sx61wQ

Beautiful, thick leather welt.

11 - Jp15tXU

Someone had mentioned before that higher-end shoes don’t have staples, but it turns out these do. From what I read about it before, these are used to last the shoe before it’s welted and are probably pretty necessary for any factory-made shoe. Not surprised or disappointed at all to see them,

12 - qgD1Ccf

Here’s the damage I did trying to pull out that insole.

13 - vncYGMM

Beginning to separate the upper…

14 - 75FwnlF

…separated the upper from lining. Here’s a strip of reinforcing material sandwiched between them to reinforce the buckle holes.

15 - R5MNx0e

…buckle bits

16 - HGCPaba

The heel / counter area was surprisingly busy. There was a counter / cloth padding / ribbon around the opening. This shoe didn’t have a topbead so I imagine the ribbons helped to reinforce the edge; just a guess.

17 - rFBnkPF

…a close-up of the layers.

18 - BkJ4Oth

The 3 pieces of the upper.

19 - SQcItMM

Compare this to the last pictures of the other dissections. It’s dramatically less complicated, mostly because of the simplicity of the sole. The recurring theme for this shoe was simplicity. It’s pretty much all made of the same material: leather. There’s no foam or plastic or synthetic materials other than the toe puff and heel counter. Everything, the upper, lining, welt, insole, outsole, and heel are all made of leather. Then there was the simplicity of its construction. I’ve never re-soled a shoe but if I were a cobbler I’d be happier to see one of these come in for re-soling than a Johnston & Murphy or Bostonian.

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2 thoughts on “Allen Edmonds: Norwich Monk Straps Dissection

  1. Absolutely captivating, i’m a lover of fine shoes and footwear. Thank you very much for sharing, i’m new to wordpress very grateful indeed.

  2. dude, these shoe dissections are absolutely cool as hell. I think as a historical reference they are invaluable. my wife thinks the final dissected layouts are amazing as art work and that they would be hot as a poster.

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