CARMINA SHOES – Models & Meanings

The elegance that attaches to a pair of Carmina’s black Simpson patent leather Oxford shoes is indisputable, even if the name is a bit of a mouthful.  Whatever the pronunciation, what does it mean, and are these terms or names exclusive to Carmina as a shoemaker or to quality shoemaking as a whole?

When ordering shoes online some understanding of the terminology is useful.  In order to be of as much assistance as possible from Baltzar’s ivory tower, we thought that some clarification of the terminology, the vocabulary and other features of quality shoes, as well as for Baltzar’s leading supplier of them, Carmina, would therefore be in order.

Explaining the vocabulary (wordlist)

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Eyelets: the holes on the flap that the laces go through

Flap: above the vamp, holds the eyelets for the laces and covers the tongue.

Heel Cap: on the outside of the quarter, around the heel, giving the shoe strength and structure.

Lining: fabric that covers the inside of the shoes.

Quarter: the center to back section below the ankle, on both sides of the shoe and around the heel.

The Insole: the sole, on the inside, on which you rest your feet on.

The Outsole/Sole: the sole, on the outside,  with which your shoes touches the ground.

Toe Cap: on the outside of the vamp, covers the toes, giving the shoe strength and structure.

Tongue: covers the top of the foot and protects it from the laces.

Top Line/Collar: the often cushioned egde of the quarter where the foot is inserted.

Upper: everything from the the sole and up is considered the upper.

Vamp: the center to front section between the quarter and toecap, covers the foot.

Welt: the part that fixates the upper, insole and outsole, through stitching, to each other.

Goodyear Welting

All Carmina shoes are carefully manufactured with the same techniques established by Charles Goodyear in 1869.  Goodyear welting is about the oldest, most labour-intensive and skill demanding shoemaking method; the reward, however, is the production of the most durable shoes.  What does Goodyear welted mean; why does it stand out from other constructions; what are the advantages?  In principle, a Goodyear welted shoe possesses a sole in which all the layers, including the outer material, the inner and outer sole and everything in between is sewed together through a welt stitch to create superior durability and the ability to access each individual layer for restoration.  And there are other benefits too!

  • Design: 

The unique stitching technique along the edge of the sole of the shoe is also a significant design element: quality is beautiful.  

  • Solidity:

Goodyear stitching enhances the strength of the shoe by ensuring that the sole, insole, upper and welt are well joined together.

  • Comfort:

The mid-sole is filled with cork instead of foam which improves comfort, enhances ergonomics and increases breathability

  • Beyond the sole:

All the different parts of a Goodyear welted shoe can be replaced individually without impacting the rest of the shoe’s structure.

  • Durability:

Combined together the various components of a Goodyear welted shoe produce the most durable piece of the style jigsaw.

The Last - The blueprint of a good shoe

The last is a solid form made from hardwood.  It is around this rigid block that a shoe takes its first shape. The last has therefore a shape similar to that of an average human foot.  Its purpose is not only to ensure that the shoe fits, but also to provide a template for design elements. When a shoe is repaired it should ideally be put back on to its original last.  Carmina’s repair service is offered through Baltzar and our partners Engelska Herr and Richard Gelding.

Each last has its own structure and composition, making it unique in terms of fit and design, especially the toecap, the insole and the quarter.  Carmina has several different lasts to choose from; we have listed our top three. 

Rain

Brown Calf Rain Captoe Oxford Shoes

Rain provides an elegant look to your Oxford shoes with a slight tipping at the end of the toe-cap; not rounded or pointed but instead a subtle squared-off front.  Rain is available in different width’s and has a design that fits the purpose of a slightly wider fit.  The quarter is enhanced where the heel of the foot meets the shoe; and the shoe has a double leather stitched insole.

Simpson

Black Simpson Patent Leather Oxford Shoes

Simpson is based on Rain, although slightly narrower over the toe and stretched out in the front before the not so subtly squared off toe.  The sleek design generates a smart and elegant look. An excellent example of its formal elegance is illustrated by the black patent leather Oxford, a must-have companion to your black-tie outfit. 

Forest

Carmina Brown Polo Suede Forest Tassel Loafers Sole

Forest has a rounded toe, regular instep and a bit more space across the forepart. It has since its release been one of the most popular lasts from Carmina which is due to the enduring nature of its classic design.  The more forgiving and looser fit of Forrest  is best suited for casual shoes, such as loafers. 

The Oxford Shoe - Models & History

Laced shoes can broadly be divided between those with closed and those with open lacing, or Oxford and Derby.  The Oxford shoe, which dates to the eighteenth century, has closed lacing: the two sides of the upper are sewn to the vamp, or the front part of the shoe, and are drawn together by laces.  The Derby, also known as Blücher, has shoelace eyelets attached on the  outside of the vamp as two flaps.  The Derby is the less formal and is often made with a rough sole and outside welt, or Norwegian stitching. 

How to wear it

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Oxfords are nowadays made from an abundance of different materials, including calf, faux and genuine patent leather, suede to some extent also canvas. Classic Oxford’s is mostly seen in black or brown calf leather, followed by different kinds of brogue patterns. In a well established wardrobe you will find various shades of brown from light walnut to dark oak. The occasional oxblood red and olive green. Calf leather still the preferred material. The more unusual colour the shoe carries, the more niche is also the occasions you may wear it. We therefor recommend, however intriguing the thought of a pair of green or red shoes is, to start with the basics. 

Black and brown Oxfords can be worn to literally anything. At Baltzar we love a pair of shining Oxford’s equally to light jeans on a Sunday as we do to  the office with a pinstripe suit. Note that the lighter shade of brown you are wearing, the lighter shade of clothes you need to match it. Dark grey and navy only goes with dark brown. 

For the formal settings when a morning coat or a black suit the required attire, it is only the black which should ever appear on your feet. With semi-formal receptions the time is often the tell of what shoes to wear, although brown is allowed after six a clock in 2018, you do not need to be a genius to realise it looks nasty with a pair of bright shining brown shoe when the sun has set. 

Captoe Oxfords

The captoe is without doubt the most common and timeless classic Oxford shoe style in modern and ancient existence.  The default colour is black, but it’s also well represented in stunning dark brown, cognac, tan and even oxblood and green.  The distinguishing feature is the extra piece of leather, the so called toe cap, that is added to the toe box.  In addition, it also always feature a heel cap.

If you don’t possess a pair of patent leather shoes, or polished calf leather plain Oxfords, black calf leather cap toes may serve double duty as a tuxedo shoe: just ensure they’re shining bright!

Wholecut Oxfords

What marks out a wholecut is how the leather is cut: a single piece of leather is stitched together once above the heel.  This is in contrast to most shoes that are made from multiple pieces of leather sewn together at several places.  A wholecut has closed lacing which, together with the single piece construction, presents a clean or slick appearance.

The style, which can be regarded as a work of art, can also feature a brogue medallion on the toe cap.  A black wholecut in patent leather or mirror polished calf leather works well as an evening shoe for weddings, funerals and other formal festivities.

Brogue Oxfords

Broguing is a way of decorating shoes using perforations and pinking, and can be applied to any type of shoe.  The level of decoration determines whether the shoe is a semi or full brogue.  A distinctive sign of a full brogue is the curved toecap, also referred to as wingtip.

A brogue shoe is considered to be a sportier alternative to a plain Oxford or wholecut because when broguing first made a appearance it could only be applied to sturdier, chunkier shoes made for country wear.

The Loafers - Models & History

In contrast to lace-ups, slip-on shoes, without laces, include loafers and moccasins.  Loafers are one of the most appreciated shoes for men worldwide and have long been accepted as a classic.  They come in various shapes and levels of formality depending on how low the instep and quarter are cut, as well as the material.  Loafers also look good in colours and exotic leathers which has encouraged makers to innovate.

Loafers have been around for ages, originating from the moccasins of native Americans and the various welt-stitched loafers or slippers of European aristocracy.  They gained ground because of the simplicity of not having to tie laces, as well as being softer and sometimes more comfortable then classic lace-up shoes.

Penny Loafers

The penny loafer finds its roots long before the penny came in to the picture.  American shoe producer G.H. Bass of Wilton in 1936 made a take on the Norwegian Aurland moccasin and called it the ‘Weejun’.  The model featured a diamond shaped strap across the vamp.  The Weejun loafer became an immense success and started to appear at Ivy League universities where students adopted the practice of putting a penny under the cross leather strap for increased swag and good luck, and to pay for phone calls, which at that time were two pennies.  The pennies came and went; the name stuck for ever.

Penny loafers are often combined with summer suits or jeans and chinos and a polo.  In the UK, penny loafers are acceptable to wear with a dark suit, like this pair in dark brown calf leather.

Tassel Loafers

According to legend the first tassel loafer was commissioned by actor Paul Lukas through Brookes Brothers New York, and made by legendary shoemaker Alden.  The laces of his Oxfords had curled up after being worn-out; he took a liking to this worn-out look and accrdingly gave instructions to have a pair made.  The rest is as we say history and the tassel loafer remains an immortal classic and a key piece for young sartorialists as well as retired CEO’s.

The tassel is considered a casual shoe.  Wear them with bare ankles, or with shorts, or with your trashed jeans on a hangover Sunday brunch.  When it comes to wearing them with a suit, a degree of finesse needs to be applied.

Baltzar loves Shoes

Black calf rain captoe Oxford shoes.  Suddenly the name doesn’t sound as alien as before.  Hopefully, this article has been helpful in giving you a better understanding of quality shoes, rewarding you with the confidence to make an informed decision when ordering online.

At Baltzar we offer the most popular lasts and models from Carmina, all with the durable Goodyear welting, ensuring long lasting shoes for all occasions.  Models and lasts that we do not carry can be ordered and we would love to introduce you to the made-to-order system.  Just email us or visit one of our stores.

Order your shoes from Carmina now, by clicking the images below!

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