A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Trip to B. Nelson With My Vintage Edward Green Twickenhams

          As I mentioned last week in the Vintage Edward Green for Paul Stuart:The Twickenham post, the shoes appeared to have been re-soled at some point. We were precludedfrom returning the shoes to Edward Green for re-crafting since the company's policy is to not accept shoes that have been worked on previously by another cobbler/shoe repair man. It was also not entirely clear whether Edward Green is still in possession of the now-defunct 201 last for the size 10D, which would be necessary for re-crafting.

          Since I had seen and heard such wonderful things about the work being done by Nick V. and company over at B. Nelson on 55th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues (140 East 55th Street), this seemed like the perfect opportunity to engage their services.

          After bringing the shoes into the shop and discussing what I was looking to have done with one of Nick's cohorts, I decided to have the shoes re-heeled and re-soled using a J.R. Rendenbach sole and heel (website here). There were less expensive options available, but as Edward Green apparently uses the Rendenbach soles in their manufacturing process, this seemed like the right way to go.

          Picking out your replacement sole and heel is basically all you need for a standard re-soling, but as many of you probably already know, "Bells & Whistles" is The Uptown Dandy's middle name.

          After further discussion, I decided to add metal toe taps and channeled soles. The toe taps are useful in that they should prevent the tip of the sole from wearing thin prematurely. A less expensive toe tap is available which is basically nailed over the tip of the sole. However, with a metal toe tap, a portion of the sole is actually carved out so that the tap is flush with the sole. To my eye, this provides a smoother, more aesthetically-pleasing look.

          The channeled soles, on the other hand, are purely cosmetic. With most shoes, the sole stitching is "aloft," or exposed. With channeled soles, an extra layer of leather is added which covers the stitching. It really serves no purpose other than to get the average shoe connoisseur excited.

          In addition, a leather piece was added at the back of the shoe to reinforce the stitching which had come loose after years of having the heel of the foot jammed down into the shoe sans horn. Finally, I asked, if at all possible, that the sole edges be given a natural wood color which we thought might work better with the antique chestnut color of the leather.

          Quite simply, we were stunned by the finished product.

          Generally, the uppers were cleaned and polished (but not shined), which really brought out the patina and vibrant tone of the antique chestnut color.

          I was very pleased with the treatment on the sole edges. The light wood color works very well with the leather color, and I also like the, for lack of a better term, two-tone aspect that the sole edge has now. It is certainly an interesting option to keep in mind going forward when resoling lighter-colored shoes like these, as it seems to give the whole package a little more "oomph" than the typical black or brown edge treatment.

          A closer look at the sole edges from the front of the shoe. You can see here how the metal toe tap is really flush against the sole:

          Additional photos showing the sole edge running the length of the shoe:

           The heels received the same light-wood color treatment. After holding this pair next to another pair of Edward Green shoes, I noticed that the new heel on the Twickenham has a wider circumference than the typically narrower or slimmer Edward Green heel/sole treatment.

          For future re-soling, I might enquire as to whether its possible to keep the heel as slim as it was, but that is nitpicking of the highest order and certainly not a knock on B. Nelson's work. Just to reiterate, my satisfaction level exceeded all reasonable expectations.

          I did not specifically ask for a bevelled waist (which I assumed was a special feature offered at additional cost), but nonetheless, the waist is bevelled. To my hand, the widest point on the sole (near the ball of the foot) is slightly bevelled as well. In the photo below, there is a slightly dark line on the right side of the waist - that is basically an indentation along the waist which probably highlights the bevel better than my attempts to describe it. That indentation continues toward the Rendenbach logo at the center of the sole. You can see the Rendenbach heel in this photo as well.

          A closer look at the metal toe tap.

          An added benefit of the re-soling was what appears to be a lessening of the leather creasing just behind the toe box and right below the vamp. The leather on the left shoe still shows some creasing, but it seems less severe than before, and the leather in the same area on the right shoe also seems much smoother now. Perhaps that is just wishful thinking on my part- you can look back at the original Twickenham post and decide for yourself. Also, the shoes feel a bit snug after resoling, which is probably to be expected.

          All in all, expectations were high based on B. Nelson's reputation. Incredibly, I found that my lofty expectations were met and far exceeded by the capable craftsmen at B. Nelson. If that were not enough, the work was completed within 7 days (as promised) and at a fraction of the cost and time of a factory re-craft by any of the well-known Northampton shoemakers. This is not to say that there are no benefits to a factory recraft - there certainly are many and we look forward to seeing the results of those efforts in the future. However, when factoring in the competitive pricing, the lightning-quick turnaround time, and the superlative workmanship, Nick V. and the team at B. Nelson are definitely worth the shoe connoisseur's strong consideration.


  1. "Aloft" vs channeled really makes no difference? That is hard to believe. Surely stitches that are protected from abrasion hold up longer--?

  2. Like a week longer.... channeled soles get un-channeled fairly quickly,
    and after that both types of soles are on an even playing field...

  3. The choice is not simply "stitched aloft" or channeled soles. To be exact, many shoes are stitched with an open channel where the stitching is done in an open groove that is not closed. Alden, A&E, and C&J Bnechgrade are done this way. Closed channel slices and peels back the channel so it can glued shut. I haven't seen many shoes stitched aloft.

    I wonder why it is not possible to have the heel be cut to match the original dimensions. I find the aesthetic of the heel to be an appealing aspect of the higher end shoes I own. I would want that replicated in a resole. The heel you show almost looks as if the shoe employs a 360 degree welt, something I rather dislike.

    I have had about twenty pairs of shoes fitted with inset taps by Nick V. and have been very pleased.

  4. I am intrigued by the metal toe taps. Do they make noise when you wear them say on hard floors. I had some shoes once that had heel metal taps and got rid of them becuase 1) they were noisy and 2) made me slip sometimes.