Sheep herders and hunter gatherers were the only rudimentary civilization that spanned the great north of Europe and Scandinavia. But before even then pieces of golf we know today began appearing.
We start in 100 BC. The Roman games are in full swing and one of them is very similar to golf. It is called Paganica, involving the players to use a bent stick to hit a leather ball that is stuffed to give it some weight. Similarly, halfway around the world, a game with basic clubs and a ball are intorduced in the Song Dynasty of China between 960 and 1279.
Now here is the most commonly known part of golf history. The fifteenth century in Scotland proved a challenging time for golf. Just as it was growing in popularity it found itself banned my the King of Scotland. In 1457 the Scottish Parliament made a huge decision to put a ban on playing golf AND football (soccer). The reason; it was getting in the way of archery practice, which was of extreme importance for national defense. King James ll agreed with the new law and reaffirmed his decision in 1471 and 1491.
Finally after many years and some relative peace in Scotland the ban on golf and football in Scotland was lifted in 1500. And within two years King James ll took up the pastime himself!
It was after this great proclamation that golf in Europe began to really gain momentum. In 1552 the Archbishop Hamilton's Charter "recognizes the right of the people" and allows the people of St. Andrews to play on the long deserted golf course.
In 1567 it gains a great following as Mary Queen of Scots reportedly plays a game soon after the death of her husband Lord Darnley. With all of the Scottish royal family it begins to move south as King James Vl inherits the English throne as well as the Scottish in 1603. With this monumental move the game is picked up at Blackheath in London, England.
Like any great sport it begins to evolve. 1724 marks the year in which the golf ball is said to be stuffed with feathers instead of rough leather. Golf gains further popularity in the first recorded reference of golf making ground in North America shows up in Massachusetts on the estate of William Burnet, the current Governor of the area.
Before golf made strides in popularity, now it becomes restricted with the very first set of rules in 1744; made by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. And only 10 years later The Society of St Andrews Golfers is formed. A historic event given it is still alive and well today. This club also became the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in 1834. St. Andrews golf course changes again in 1764 when the course is moved around to have 18 holes instead of the 22 they had previously. This set the standard for all other golf courses in the world.
The golf ball is again reinvented to be a solid and made of strips of gutta percha ( dried sap of Sapodilla tree). The strips are put in boiling water and then molded to create the ball shape before being placed in cold water to keep its round shape. All of this taking place in 1848.
The game of golf reaches peak competition in 1860 when the very first ever Men's Open Championship taking place at Prestwick and is won by Willie Park Senior of Scotland. Golf's first champion is born, and the rest of the country is hooked.
Golf rests on its laurels for a few years as the next major development is not until 1885. The idea of an amateur event at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club is received with anticipation and enthusiasm and the first ever amateur game is played and won by Allan MacFie of England.
Now it is the golf clubs turn to receive an update. Golf clubs previously made of any kind of wood now are being restyled. Persimmon becomes the most popular wood to create golf clubs and is used widely by the golfing community in the 1890s.
PICTURE OF WOMEN GOLFING!!
Not until 1893 the women of Europe get a say. The Ladies’ Golf Union is formed in the UK resulting in the first ever British Ladies’ Amateur Golf Championship played in the same year at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Women waste no time in keeping up with the men and crown their first champion Lady Margaret Scott of England.
Once Europe becomes more progressive North America soon follows suit. 1894 sees the formation of The United States Golf Association (USGA) is formed in New York. This association is important for many reasons. Not only just to have a North American distinction but many purposes including service as an arbitrator for questions and concerns of amateur status. This marks the 5th charter member following the newly formed the USGA were the St. Andrew’s Golf Club of Yonkers, N.Y., Newport (R.I.) Golf Club, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Ill.
1895 marks another milestone for golf players as the championships become well established for both men and women. The US Amateur Championship and the US Open are played for the first time at Newport Country Club, Rhode Island and are won respectively by Charles B Macdonald (USA) and Horace Rawlins (England). As well as the US Women’s Amateur Golf Championship is also played for the first time at Meadow Brook Club in Long Island and is won by Lucy Barnes Brown of the USA.
5 years later Golf has becomes so popular it is the newest sport at the Paris 1900 Olympic Games! With a meager 22 players from four different countries to compete in a 36 hole course.
A year later a rubber golf ball called the Haskell Ball is reputed to be the best and newest in golfing technology. This also surprisingly changed how current members play the game. It was a lighter and sturdier make and so traveled a lot farther than the old version and was easier to get a hold of because of its ability to be mass produced. Therefore golfers had to change there game to compensate for a lighter ball and the game rose in popularity.
The PGA is soon formed in the United Kingdom in 1901 and the American PGA follows 15 years later.
The early 1920's see wide swept championships held all over the world. The Ryder Cup in 1921 boasts professionals from Great Britain and The Walker Cup in 1922 featured a great competition between the USA, Ireland and Great Britain; and was won by the USA.
After the golf ball finds its' peak design the golf club changes as well. In 199 steel shafts on golf clubs are officially accepted by the R&A (Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews).
Women are slower to get their own competitions but not forgotten altogether. 1946 marks the year the US Women’s Open is played for the first time at Spokane Country Club in Washington and is won by Patty Berg of the USA. Only two years later The Ladies’ Professional Golfers’ Association (LPGA) is formed in the USA.
With the popularity of television it becomes clear what PGA must do next. Breaking ground in 1953 The Tam O’ Shanter World Championship of Golf becomes the first nationally televised golf tournament in the USA.
1964 A friendly match between the American Curtis team and France is expanded to invite other international teams to establish a Women’s World Amateur Team Championship. The trophy was provided by Mrs Espirito Santo Silva through the Portuguese Golf Federation. A total of 25 teams took part in the inaugural competition at St Germain Golf Club in France which was won by the home team.
1976 The Women’s British Open is played for the first time at Fulford Golf Club. It is won by England’s Jenny Lee Smith.
1980’s Metal woods made of stainless steel are introduced.
1994 The Evian Masters is played for the first time at Evian-les-Bains in France. It is won by Helen Alfredsson of Sweden.
2000’s Materials such as graphite, titanium, carbon fibre and tungsten are used to manufacture golf clubs.
2003 The World Amateur Golf Council becomes the International Golf Federation.
2010 The 150th anniversary Open Championship takes place on the Old Course at St Andrews.
2016 Golf will be played at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for the first time in 112 years.
Riding boots have evolved from a long line of boot styles dating back to the 12000-15000 B.C.E. But first let us discuss the basics before we get in to historical bit.
The term 'boot' has a very broad definition described as footwear covering the entire foot and lower leg; usually, but not limited to, leather. Simple enough. But for those in the 18th Century it was not so easy. More about that further on.
The first historical record of boots took place as mentioned above in a cave painting found in Spain as early as 12,000 and 15,000 B.C.E. The painting shows a man in boots made of animal hide, while a woman is depicted wearing boots made of the fur.
Pharaoh Khnumhotep (2140-1785 B.C.E.) is said to have some buried with his embalmed body in Egypt. You may be surprised to know that boots were also found in an Egyptian Pharaoh's tomb. While Egypt has a sweltering climate one could imagine they would become helpful in wartime.
The next civilization to catch on to the boot craze was the Scythians of about 1000 B.C.E. A spin off from the Greek people. Their boots were simple untanned leather with the fur turned inside for warmth. From historical records they appeared to be more like bags than the boot design we know today. They had also sewn leather thongs to hold them on.
The latter style also seems characteristic of many arctic natives. The Inuit are fairly well-known for their Kamiks. It is an efficient use of their resources and they take great pride in using caribou hide or sealskin; a big staple of their diet. Kamiks proved very effective as they were naturally water resistant. The boots began to take on more style as they were sewn together to create more of a moccasin shape. They also created a style of stitching with sinews (a piece of tough fibrous tissue uniting muscle; a tendon or ligament) to ensure no leakage within the stitches. (See above).
From the ancient world, making its' way into the medieval times the riding boot was a symbol of power and military prowess. Many kings and Roman emperors are said to have ornamental boots covered in jewels and diamonds to show off their wealth and superiority. This became a big indicator of wealth as most of the general population was barefoot or had crude sandals.
The first real forerunner to the riding boot design appeared in the ninth century. It was called huese and was made of soft leather and took more of a shoe shape.
The boot then began to quickly evolve changing every few centuries or so. In the twelfth to fourteenth centuries there was the estivaux, a short soft boot that gained more popularity than those that came before it.
The sixteenth century saw even more changes. With the first real stylistic differences since the beginning of the boot craze. They created high boots of soft perfumed leather and were worn to meet upper stocks. These would soon develop into the wide, floppy cavalier styles of the first half of the seventeenth century. This change marks the first drastic move towards the boots we use today. (See above)
These boots were fashioned to be very soft, slouchy boots with an elaborate boot hosen (socks) with lace trim flaring outwards to fold over the boots.
This is where the riding boot comes into existence. The high tops and great care to quality of leather was found to be quite helpful when on horseback as it protected the legs while being jostled around. And thus found its creation in a militaristic origin.
However as the boot became more of a fashion statement with various luxurious hosen available it was popular for all classes by 1815. The first appearance of boots for walking and daytime activities was spurred by a suggestion made in a fashion periodical.
The riding boot had its first royal approval when J. Sparkes presented Queen Victoria with her first pair of boots in 1837. The boots were elasticized and easy to slip on and off. Before this they had many laces to do up. If it was good for Queen Victoria it was good for all and the riding boot market exploded.
The elastic style held popularity until the 1860's when Balmorals (front lace in satin or coloured leather) became the "in" thing for more sophisticated outings. (See above).
Horseback riding became a very common past-time for eighteenth century noblewomen. It was a suitable way to display their figures in closely-tailored habits as they rode side-saddle through the London parks or across the lands belonging to country houses.
To them horseback riding was at once a chance to show off your skill in connection to the horse, socialization and perhaps even courtship. You can see how learning to ride and do it well was quite important. It was also a big fashion statement as to what kind of boot they were showing off; as riding horseback was the only time in the eighteenth century in which a noble lady could show off her ankle.
The styles consisted mostly of practical leather, and laced securely up the front. They would have protected the foot (and those thin stockings) and offered a sure footing in the stirrup.
Now fast forward to the present day and you have many top quality companies sharing their riding boot designs with the world. While the average boot has branched off to include riding boots, rainy day boots, winter boots, leather boots for everyday wear etc., Treccani Milano is trying to keep that authentic riding boot design alive.
The traditional English riding boot is made of a smooth leather, cowhide or pigskin, and for those traditional riders this is a must. Other materials include vinyl and leather.
The classic style again is high on the leg, as it started out centuries ago, that prevents the saddle leather from pinching the rider's lower leg. It also boasts a sturdy toe and has a distinct heel to prevent the foot from sliding off the stirrup, as well as a textured sole to further curve any slippage that could lead in falling from the saddle.
Now the modern riding boot has a surprisingly lower heel, which means the level of expertise involved in keeping your feet in the stirrup is increased tenfold.
For the casual rider a well-worn show boot is most common. While there has been an increase in new boot designs taking after athletic or hiking shoes resulting in space age synthetics and breathable materials to create what essentially is a "tennis shoe with a heel."
While as we saw earlier the riding boot can have many shapes and can be made with many materials. Today the most common material is patent leather. However this may change as Jodhpur boots are changing it up again with a design for saddle seat horse show classes.This type of event is held after 6:00 pm and requires formal attire to be worn. Thus a more formal look is necessary.
That is the complete history of the riding boot, from low-cut pointed toes to lace-ups to slip-ons and now a combination of new and old traditions.
Treccani Milano is celebrating its fourth year in the Yorkville area. While at present Yorkville is the best place to find the highest quality fashion, tailors and bespoke shoes, it wasn't always this way.
You may be surprised to learn about the dazzling past of the Yorkville area.
In the spirit of the area Yorkville was founded by an entrepreneur named Joseph Bloor (Yes, that Bloor). The village was named with inspiration from the Town of York, the precursor to the City of Toronto. After which Yorkville was officially incorporated as a village in 1853.
The area was first developed as a small village with only two main businesses.
The first of these industry's was the Yorkville Brick Yards in today's Ramsden Park. This company manufactured the bricks for the historic Yorkville Avenue Fire Hall. This same hall can still be seen today with the renowned yellow bricks the business was famous for at the time.
The second most prominent business opportunity in early Yorkville was the many beer breweries; the two most popular being the Severn Brewery and the Joseph Bloor Brewery.
In 1883 the City of Toronto decided it was time to annex the small village of Yorkville making it an integral part of the soon bustling city. However despite this grouping Yorkville retained its own unique personality.
Surprisingly enough Yorkville was once known as "the Canadian capital of the hippie movement." Young people would come in droves to check out the hip village in the city. The places to be were the Purple Onion and The Myna Bird to hang out and be inspired by the talent, which resonated between the walls of these establishments.
Yorkville reached its peak for Hippie sounds and popularity of the youth in the 1960s. It became a mecca for bohemian culture. It was also home to many hugely popular Canadian artists. Just a few of them are Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Buddy Guy and Gordon Lightfoot. Not to mention great literary genius' such as Margaret Atwood, Gwendolyn MacEwen and Dennis Lee.
Not only were there some soon-to-be famous people in Yorkville but also some very famous restaurants, pubs and music houses. There were over 40 clubs, coffee houses, and galleries in Yorkville featuring live music in the late 1960's. Chief among these is The Riverboat, as it was the starting point for many young and extremely talented artists.
After this burst of culture the music scene died down and the hippie era subsided Yorkville began to flourish as the high end fashion district it is known for today. In the 1970's through to the 80's many stores began to pop up bringing along with it chic cafes, art galleries and salons. The first among these were Harry Rosen, Holt Renfrew and other international designer brands.
Another event took place in the 1980's that changed the skyline more than the streets.
20 new condominium towers were soon built and another 6 major towers are planned, increasing the area population by at least 10,000 people. And so a new form of expression rolls in on the coattails of high end fashion boutiques and beautiful galleries bursting with local talent.
Today from Bloor street at Avenue Road all the way to Yonge street is the third most expensive shopping street in North America and the seventh most expensive shopping street in the world.
Yorkville is now known for its extremely high quality products from all over the world.
In this atmosphere Treccani Milano fits right in, adding our own take on fine Italian leather and bespoke services. That and the constant celebrities being spotted at Sassa Fraz just across the street.
Treccani Milano is the very middle of it. Take a look at the map below for a birds eye view of the Yorkville area.
Thread count is one of the first ways one can determine the worth of a fabric or sheet.
But is it telling you the truth?
After some research Treccani Milano discovers the secret.
The basics when discussing thread count or cotton count are the weft, warp, single-ply, two-ply, and compact vs normal yarns.
When someone refers to the count of a fabric they are usually referring to the construction and yarn specifications. This includes the weight per unit length or how many threads are in one square inch on any given area of the fabric. Often a small estimate of the thread count as a whole.
The weft and warp are what people in the industry use to the describe the two main directions of yarn. The warp threads run vertically while the weft yarns run horizontal. Those are the only two distinctions among the thread but together can take many forms and follow many patterns.
Ply is how many yarns are twisted together to make a single thread. Therefore when someone refers to one-ply they mean one yarn has been twisted to create a thread and two-ply involves two pieces of yarn twisted together. Thus it all determines the quality of the fabric.
Lastly compact yarn, as you could guess, is smoother and finer than normal yarn. These two variations are not relevant to the thread count but are another indication of quality. A low thread count with compact yarn can still yield a fairly fine piece of fabric or sheet.
Now let us go through the main types of thread styles:
Broadcloth, Poplin: Two different names but this thread is the same. It is characterized by its construction pattern, each weft yarn passes over one warp yarn similar to that of a chessboard to create a square like pattern. This thread is usually fairly strong, durable, and resistent to shrinkage. Because of its great overall longevity and flexibility it is most commonly used for shirts.
Pinpoint, Oxford & Basket Weave: This threading style is very simple. The usual difference between pinpoint and oxford is the type of woven yarn used. The weft thread passes above two weft threads which are quite close together before passing under the next two in a repetitive pattern. Thus where the basket weave comes into effect.
Twill, Gabardine, Cavalry & Herringbone: These are all the same thing just different components of one whole. The twill is the type of weave. Gabardine & Herringbone are just creations of the weave. This pattern has the weft yarns passing over many warp yarns, the next segment continues the same pattern but begins one warp later each time.
Now that we have our yarn patterns straight lets go over the basics of thread count, and why it important, if it is at all.
Yarn or thread count is widely used in many industries to determine the quality, and therefore cost, of each product. Yarn count is described as "a numerical value, which express(es) the coarseness or fineness (diameter) of the yarn and also indicate the relationship between length and weight (the mass per unit length or the length per unit mass)of that yarn". See above for thread count.
The yarn size refers to the thickness of each piece of yarn, and ply is the number of individual yarns used as a strand. This is where we get one-ply and two-ply.
Now there is a lot of controversy over what is a good thread count and what is an unnecessarily high count. The experts state that a good thread count is about 400. Anything more and the company is fooling you into thinking there is better quality than 400. An expert in the industry explains, "In reality, to achieve a higher thread count manufacturers are generally using a lower grade of cotton that becomes very thin when spun," Tannen explained to us. "They then twist this thread around itself to create a `multi-ply’ thread. When they use 2-ply thread and weave it to a theoretical 300-thread count (150 horizontal, 150 vertical) they call it a 600 thread count sheet and sell it that way.”
Thus companies are using two-ply and even four-ply and calling it 800 or even 1000 thread count making it seem like the best option as thread count seemingly equals quality. Customers must be wary of these techniques when picking out bed sheets or the like.
Companies have also been known to apply waxes and polishes to sheets before being shipped out that trick the consumer into believing the fabric is incredibly soft, which will unfortunately break down after a wash or two.
Thread count is not what it used to be and staying informed and up to date on the newest tricks is your only hope to get the best quality. Treccani Milano also recommends looking at the stitches in any fabric to determine quality. If they are close or invisible, with no visible tear when lightly tugged, this will ensure a decent quality fabric. That is just another way to determine strength and comfort if the thread count seems unreliable.
Shell Cordovan leather is first created in the city of Cordoba, Spain, where the leather received its name. It was first prepared by the Moors in the area. And from this point in time it traveled to other cities over the centuries.
Shell Cordovan was adopted by The Horween Leather Company in 1905, the first of its' kind for razors. But when disposable razors began to appear there was less demand and they switched the process a bit to yield finer leather for the retail industry.
The term cordovan leather applies to the product of both the tanned fronts and tanned butts of a horse, but is especially used in connection with the term galoshes, meaning the vamps or boot-fronts of a shoe. Shell Cordovan comes from the fatty butt and shoulders of a horse. See image below.
Shell Cordovan, specifically from the Horween family factory, goes through a very intense process.
After removal from the horse, the hide is measured from the root of the tail 18 inches forward on the backbone. This decides the value of the hide based on length and quality. The hide is cut at right angles to the backbone and the resulting pieces termed a "front" (the forward part) and the "butt".
The Horween Leather Company in Chicago has the longest history of tanning Shell Cordovan of any tannery currently operating within the United States. As mentioned before in the early 1900's they switched from focusing on razors to shoes, gloves etc. And the process was fairly easy.
The raw material is imported horse hides that typically come from France and Canada where horses are still raised as part of food industry. The irregular oval shaped shells are tanned, stuffed, shaved, and then polished. The entire process takes approximately 6 months which is why it is so highly prized among leather enthusiasts. Let's break down the process . . .
The most important step is called hot stuffing. After the razor craze ended Isidore Horween concocted a new mixture for tanning by increasing the fat and oil content to create more supple leather. All of this affected a process called hot stuffing. It is technically part of the tanning process where they reintroduce fats/greases/oils to nourish the fibers of the skin. These impart very favorable characteristics, like water resistance.
The process is started by steam-heating wooden drums, adding re-tanned or veg tanned leather, and add a special blend of greases, waxes, and oils that is privileged information and mixed in house special for each product. After this first initial process of adding oils and fats the hides are then pounded with greases, waxes, and oils into the skins by the tumbling action of the heated mills.
The process is specifically different from other fat liquor methods used where emulsified oils/fats are used to condition and nourish the fibers of the skin — the steam heat is not required to melt the oils/waxes/grease to penetrate the fibers. Hot stuffing is special because it allows them to use raw, less refined conditioning agents like beeswax, tallow, lanolin and paraffin.
The re-tanning process after the first initial mixture is added to the leather that creates the sensory quality of the hides. Feel, look, smell etc.Due to the difficulty in applying dyes, Shell Cordovan is available in a narrow range of colors. Only those that you see in the diagram above are what Horween can offer.
Finally after it has been first initially hot stuffed the hides are then slicked onto glass frames to dry. Subsequently each shell is hand curried and shaved by highly skilled artisans to expose the shell. Dyes are hand rubbed on for a finish going deep into the hide. After all of that hands on work the shells are hand glazed to achieve the rich, glossy look and feel prized by fine craftsmen worldwide.
After being tanned, leather from the "front" is typically used in the production of gloves, or it can even be blackened, to be used in the tops of shoes. The "butt", after tanning, is passed through a splitting-machine which removes the grain, or hair side, revealing what is termed the "shell".
Shell cordovan is always in short supply due to the limited horse hides available as well as the long production process.
A product made of shell cordovan will last multiple lifetimes. Because of the unique, non-creasing characteristics of shell cordovan, footwear can last a very long time by replacing the soles as needed. Thus in our own shop at Treccani Milano we can create shoes that can literally last you a lifetime.
Tanning in its simplest explanation is the process of altering the raw protein structure of animal skin, preserving it from decay and turning it into leather. The good news is all Italian leather is sourced from butchers within the same area. Animals may have been harmed, but not at the cost of fashion.
Leather, from any country, has prehistoric origins as I am sure you can guess. Cave people as well as natives used leather for its durability, waterproof substances and natural warmth. As the human race evolved so did the way we viewed leather. Not only was leather created for warmth but also, much later, as fabulous fashionable accessories.
The creation of tanning leather first arose from a very common problem across nations. The leather would break down within a year, rot in the heat and stiffen in the cold and collapse over time from decomposition. The earliest techniques are thought to include smoking and rubbing of animal fats into the hide.
This problem was solved with early tanning methods which began in the Medieval time period. Thus medieval cities exploded with tanning methods unique to their region. Soon after this process grew in popularity, guilds-early style unions, formed to protect the secret tanning concoction of each tannery. These techniques are still closely protected family secrets that have been handed down from generation to generation. Most of which are in the areas that have been producing the world's best hides for over half a millennium.
But let’s now focus on Italy. Each region in Italy has their own specific style and leather product of choice. While not subject to these borders this is where most Italian leather comes from. For example; whole hides and bovine leather production for belts and soles is primarily located in Santa Croce, Florence; lamb skins are processed primarily in Solofra near Naples; and whole hides used for furniture or automotive upholstery are produced in Arzignano.
What leather do you have in your home? Chances are it is from one of those three places.
The most common form of tanning in Italy is called vegetable tanning. This is the earliest form of tanning dating back to 1500 B.C. originating in Egypt, Italy, and Greece. Italian tanneries are a combination of the past, present and future. While the ingredients stay the same technology has them striving boldly forward.
The tanning process uses eco-friendly natural tannins that occur in the bark of quebracho, chestnut or mimosa trees to give the leather its distinct personality and color.
Italy accounts for around 16% of world leather production and over two-thirds of all leather produced in Europe.
From Hide to Purse:
STEP 1: PICKING THE HIDE
The animal skins are immediately salted and cured for preservation during transport. When the hides arrive, master cutters separate them into three parts - sides, shoulders, and belly.
Here is a definition:
Croupon/Sides - Strongest and most valuable piece of the hide
Shoulder - Known for its neck rings
Belly - Due to the loose structure, it's not as firm
STEP 2: SOAKING AND LIMING
The skins are deaired, degreased, desalted, and soaked in water for two days. After soaking in the wooden drums, hides are taken out and treated with the milk of lime. Liming occurs when the weakening of hair is dependent on the breakdown of an amino acid called cystine. It's a removal process on the surface of the skin. Liming also removes grease and fat from the hide. Fleshing and Splitting is then carried out which removes all the hair once and for all.
The hides are then looked over by specialists in the tanning business to verify that all oils, hairs and other marks are removed from the hide. Once this verification is made the hides are placed in big drums to be soaked. This soaking removes the lime solution, lowers the pH level and smooths the grain for optimal conditions to be tanned.
STEP 3: TANNING
The type of vegetable tanner you use yields a different result. We will discuss only the most popular. Chestnut wood is the most famous and ancient extract that is used in vegetable tanning because of its prevalence across France and Italy.
Leathers tanned with chestnut are elastic, light, and resistant to traction and abrasion. Chestnut tanned leathers are commonly used in the production of high-quality Italian shoes that are made with care and precision.
Another type of tanner is Quebracho extract that gives the leather a special reddish color with an unmistakable warm touch. Leathers produced using quebracho extracts are said to be enchanted with a sense of well-being that only gets better over time.
Once a tannin is selected the master must pick the right ratio of ingredients to have the desired result. Once that is done the leather is soaked again in large wooden drums for several days where hides are colored and softened. After being removed from the drums, we move on to drying, shaving, and finishing operations to remove the excess moisture and give the leather a uniform thickness.
STEP 4: DRYING & FINISHING
The leather, now tanned/coloured, is sent through a dry press where a majority of the water from tanning is removed.
That is the entire process. Spanning up to 40 days to bring you the Italian leather product of your dreams.
The Goodyear Family's first factory was bought on the banks of the Little Cuyahoga River in East Akron, Ohio in the United States. It was an old warehouse building converted into a strawboard factory. The Goodyear family bought the building in 1898, a little while after the Goodyear welting machine was invented. No longer done by hand the Goodyear family expanded to create room for the demand they would soon find in tires and shoes.
The best bespoke shoes to this day still represent the Goodyear construction of durable materials with the ability to be as flexible as possible. The Goodyear welt named after the family is a symbol of that. While a comparison of two very similar bespoke shoes may have you stumped the difference is barely noticeable. But it can be the difference between a shoe lasting 2 years versus a Goodyear shoe lasting a lifetime.
The stitching technique allows the sole to be completely replaced when worn done, thus allowing the shoe to breathe new life until this needs to be fixed again. Thus a shoe could last as long as you, if you take care of the top half of the shoe.
The name Goodyear comes from exactly where you might expect. The same founder as Goodyear Tires. (Founder shown above).
But what came first? The tire or the Welt.
The answer is the welt of course. In 1869 by Charles Goodyear Jr., the son of Charles Goodyear, created the machinery that would eventually take over the luxury shoe market. While they did start out in bike tires and automobile tires they did transition into Goodyear Welt we use today. However using machinery is simpler it takes half the skill level to create it.
Thus the Italian artisans at Treccani Milano still use the traditional form of stitching the welt and soles together completely by hand using the expert skill passed down through many generations.
How is a welt used? Here is a step-by-step explanation of why welts are so important.
A welt typically refers to the strip of leather, rubber, or plastic that is seen along the perimeter of the outsole and then stitched to the upper and a strip of canvas. This process is known as gemming. The gemming is then cemented to the insole of a shoe, as an attach-point for the sole.
Check out this video of our artisans at work creating a shoe and stitching by hand:
Why it's important/ the best welting:
Based on the above information it is clear to see the superiority in the Goodyear welt and stitching techniques. Not only is a better quality of stitching but allows a shoe to be easily fixed and given new life. It retains the bespoke custom look while getting a small upgrade. The welt can also act as a buffer between insole and outsole, with some space created to add cork for your comfort.
What may seem like an obvious wardrobe choice for a day of exercise was not so obvious back in the early 20th century. When it came to tennis long sleeve thick cotton shirts were the norm. That was the way it was done until one professional athlete had a vision . . .
In 1910 a tennis outfit was traditionally called a "tennis white" consisting of long-sleeved white button-up shirts, flannel trousers, and ties. This, as one can imagine, was extremely hot and uncomfortable. And so for a young tennis pro and Wimbledon winner, Rene Lacoste felt something had to be done.
Before the fame of Lacoste clothing Rene Lacoste had some success in the sporting world. He won Wimbledon in 1922 and was also the French seven-time Grand Slam tennis champion. While today he is most widely known as the man behind the great fashion line Lacoste. He should receive more recognition for his huge impact on the tennis and golf world. Rene Lacoste saw a problem and felt something had to be done. So he got rid of the long hot attire and opted for a shorter look.
Lacoste described it as “a white, short-sleeved, loosely-knit piqué cotton (he called the cotton weave jersey petit piqué) shirt with an unstarched, flat, protruding collar, a buttoned placket, and a shirt-tail longer in back than in front”. The polo shirt was born and Lacoste was the first to debut the polo at the 1926 U.S. Open Championship. It was later the next year that Lacoste received the nickname ‘crocodile’ from his American counterparts and thus he adopted the term and put it on his shirt, creating the Lacoste design we know today.
The term ‘polo shirt’ comes from where you might guess: the game Polo. In 1920 a Polo player, born and raised in Montreal, named Lewis Lacey had a similar idea and began putting a polo player on his shirt as a mark of his sport. He began manufacturing the shirt embroidered with the logo of a polo player. The design was actually created at the Hurlingham Polo Club near Buenos Aires. The ‘polo shirt’ was formerly referred to only the long sleeve button-down shirt but after the invention and acceptance of Lewis Lacey’s design the term ‘polo shirt’ became universal and spread not just to polo but to tennis and golf as well.
Lacoste changed the fashion and sporting worlds again when he retired from the sport in 1933 and took up with André Gillier, a friend and clothing merchandiser. Together they worked to market the new design to Europe and North America. I’m sure you can guess how successful that venture was.
By the late 20th Century the tennis shirt was adopted nearly universally as standard golf attire, and, as some may know, most tennis clubs today require the polo shirt as part of the standard uniform.
Another polo shirt trailblazer worth mentioning is Fred Perry who, in 1954, created his own polo shirt design. But he took the logo to the next level. He improved the design by adding a log that was stitched right into the shirt rather than ironed on the way Lacoste was currently doing it. This method became very popular among the teenagers at the time and was a solid competitor for Lacoste for a number of years.
While Lacoste, Perry and Gillier were the true creators of the polo shirt it wasn’t until Ralph Lauren, a New York native, made it that the name really began to stick and take over the sporting world from head to toe.
As it turns out Tuxedo shoes did not come first, second or third to the tuxedo ensemble we know and cherish today. In fact very little is known about tuxedo shoe origin only that it was added to the tuxedo name as it grew in popularity.
But here’s what we do know . . .
The tuxedo itself gained popularity in 1888 when the style was named after Tuxedo Park, a Hudson Valley enclave for New York’s social elite to go sip champagne, etc.
After this unofficial naming it grew from the social elite to be welcomed by many in the 1930s. However, the tuxedo at first only included the jacket. That was all.
This idea grew when it was even more integrated into the average male’s daily life. With more customers there was a greater demand and thus new pieces of clothing were added to fit that demand. With the invention of special pants and other suit accessories that began to appear in the 1900's, such as the vest, the idea of a tux resonated across the world to reach the status it has today.
Somewhere, in all of that, tuxedo shoes appeared and gained prominence along with the whole outfit. In the beginning there was one tuxedo shoe style, but that has since branched out to welcome the modern look with the traditional.
The traditional tuxedo shoe has a rounded toe. It is usually black or dark brown with 3/4 quarter to 1 full inch heel. It is called a rounded toe because the shoe is designed to wrap around the front of the wearer's toes to achieve a minimalist design. Thus with great design comes also some great room for variations as it is said if your foot has more width in the front, you will likely be stretching the size of the shore to create an almost pointed look to attain the same effect.(The shoes shown below can be seen at The Bata Shoe Muesum in Toronto, Ontario as worn by Screenwriter David Shamoon when he attended the 2012 Academy Awards® ceremony in Los Angeles).
The modern tuxedo shoe design (shown below) boasts a square toe which fixes the whole issue of sacrificing comfort for fashion. The modern man can have both a sleek , and socially acceptable, look while maintaining his toes have room to breathe. While the comfort level of the tuxedo shoe has shifted the heel height has remained within the exact same parameters.
Defining characteristics of formal footwear remain about the same as they always have. The phrase is ‘aesthetic minimalism’. Meaning a “small, slim, and narrow feet give a light, quick, and (and hence) young lift to the overall silhouette”. So its light and easy to dance in while also a chic fashion choice. While tuxedo shoes also happen to look like slippers sometimes.
One interesting tidbit of information explains the high gloss and absolute need for formal shoes to be shined to high standards. This is because the shoe is supposed to act as a mirror to reflect “the outfit’s various silk facings as part of black tie’s sophisticated contrast of textures”, all adding to the grandeur of the tuxedo itself.
And then there are the many variations on the two main styles mentioned above. Below is a picture of one such spoof on the classic style.
The immense transition tuxedo shoes have taken over the course of time and are just a taste of the variations one can find.
The alligator is less common and therefore more expensive as well as superior over the crocodile. With better softness, texture, firmness, and overall more uniformity in scale patterning alligator leather is highly prize as the top Crocodilean leather.
Alligators are specific to the Southern United States while Crocodiles are found in Central America, Egypt and Australia living in both fresh and saltwater, lending to its lack of luster among leather seekers. Thus Treccani Milano uses only the finest leather, which from the above information is clearly alligator.