Some companies are transparent and born in this new reality. When I interviewed Cutterman’s founders, they demonstrated a lot of transparency by making it clear that their products are made with machines.
It is different from the initial positioning of Louie shoes , extolling the word manual without the production actually coping with the term.
Others are a little more cunning. Instead of calling it “handmade,” several shoe brands have named their lines “benchgrade” and “handgrade,” for example. Church’s used to call their best shoes “custom grade.” These are meaningless terms, just catchy labels that imply a manual pattern, not really saying they are.
Many other brands describe their products as “custom made,” “custom,” or “handmade,” none of which serve to describe the products they make. With so many manufacturers using it, these terms have almost lost their meaning.
For crafts to mean something again, we need to better understand the value of the concept. This not only means knowing more about the production process, but also breaking down some myths and identifying the real value.
- Are hand-sewn clothes more durable?
One of the biggest things about handmade is that handmade seams provide a level of flexibility and durability that sewing machines can’t replicate. In a way this is true, but most of the time not.
The earliest sewing machines made a chain stitch , a series of loops that make a chain-like pattern. They could be undone quite easily, and to make the rather clumsy machines worse, they did the job well.
Technical improvements allowed the machines to do the lockstitch. Two threads are intertwined and the stitching gets stronger but without flexibility. When used in stress-prone areas – such as the back of a trouser – they can burst.
The tailor, in turn, could do a backstop by hand. This stitch turns the thread over itself and allows the seam to stretch slightly. The result does not unwind as the current point or yield under tension as the stitch.
Based on how things worked at a time, we get the idea that hand-stitched stitches are forever superior, but this notion leaves aside some important technological advances.
There are already machines that can replicate the back stitch, and others that improve stitching with a complex series of stitches. Still, people still prefer manual labor and even old technologies. I wonder why?
- Do handmade shoes last longer?
Similar technological advances can be seen elsewhere. The soles of the shoes used to be sewn by hand, and today there are machines that make seamed and goodyear welt .
Before these machines were invented, mass-made shoes were just glued together, which makes a lot of difference to a stitched sole. Today, the differential in durability of a hand-turned shoe with a hand-stitched sole and a goodyear welted shoe will hardly be noticed during a person’s life.
You can buy a goodyear shoe for about $ 300. You can buy a hand-made shoe for about $ 600, and a custom-made hand-made shoe costs about $ 2000. Can you tell if one lasts longer and is more comfortable than the other?
Very likely, but I don’t know if a handmade shoe needs to be justified with practical arguments. After all, it would be hard to prove that it lasts ten times longer.
It is important to recognize not only when technology has progressed, but also to appreciate the complex and sometimes symbiotic relationship between machines and craftsmen. Machines have in many ways forced craftsmen to develop new innovations.
For example, the detail of the “beveled” sole , seen from above, arose because when the machines came into being, shoemakers needed to invent a manual detail that they could not replicate.
- Should quality ties be sewn by hand?
Ties, used to benefit from having their tabs gently joined at hand. This allows for manageability when giving and breaking the node, which. This clearance helps the tie stay in shape longer. Only a skilled craftsman used to be able to make that point, but now some machines can replicate it.
These are just a few points where, in terms of durability, the hand-made maxim is much better not so clear.
Why do people decide to sew the sole by hand? Why does a mark hold the waist of the pants with thread and needle?
Looking from the outside, the result is the same. In the pants, the manual stitch has a cleaner internal finish that is only seen by those who see the inside of the garment. The sole is sewn by hand sewn and fixed directly to the turn without a strip of fabric that weakens the construction. The difference in durability is very long term and not even the owner will visually admire this fully internal detail.
Even without anyone else noticing these details, some people are glad to know that there is still this kind of traditional work being done. There are people who see beauty in the ability to perform a task .
For that very reason, a manually finished buttonhole is admired. It has no practical advantage. When done well, it’s just a very well done manual job. The joy is to produce the best manual work possible.
When I talk about building types or how a product is made I’m not exactly talking about practicality or durability. Of course, some techniques are necessary for a better outcome, but craft art stands on its own .
That is, to value manual labor, we cannot think of the purely practical terms of craftsmanship. When done right, a handmade item puts a little romance in life.
Manual work must be appreciated within its own rules. There is no need to invent practical justifications for what is obviously a luxury.
If it’s worth it? It depends on what you value. Applying the same criteria to all types of men’s fashion products would be like criticizing a jazz improvisation with the criteria of classical music.
To appreciate a product only for its practical qualities is to value it only for its longevity, function and design. In this field, machines will almost always dominate, because their productions are made with more precision, more economical and increasingly lasting.
The advantage of handmade crafts has nothing to do with it, and as I said, it should not even be justified within these terms. On the contrary, craftsmanship is about humanistic values.When something is truly handmade, we appreciate not only as an object but also the testament of the craftsman’s skill. Machined products may exist disconnected from their manufacturers, but handmade objects tell of the person who created them .
We can also value manual work for its craft value. Processed products are made with perfection and precision. When grouped, they are indistinguishable. Craft products, in turn, have “personality” or “character”. What I mean by that?
I mean that they are made with the vision of an ideal in mind, but, as they are created by human hands, they end up with slight variations or inconsistencies. By existing slightly apart from the ideal, each piece affirms its own individuality to the world. We do not value handcrafted goods because they are perfectly made; we value them because they are humanly imperfect .
Voltaire believed that if we could accept and value these qualities in craftsmanship, we could learn something about life itself. After all, it is human nature to strive for perfection only to narrowly fail. By appreciating the irregularities in handcrafted goods, we can develop more realistic expectations and lead more enjoyable stocks.
Of course, very few things are done completely by hand these days, or even completely by machines. A handmade seam is no more durable than a well-made industrial stitch, and a factory shirt with a hand-sewn monogram offers neither human nor craft value. We should not confuse things.
Yes, we must value machines and their contribution to the commercial value of a product. They make things more affordable and durable. Manual work, however, is about humanistic and even philosophical values. In the end, these are the only truly sustainable handcrafted defenses.
At times it is unclear when a product crosses the line from one to another but we should pay attention to how the ratings are used. This will not only give us a more diverse appreciation for production, but will also allow us to preserve and protect the special role of true craftsmanship.