NOTE: This section is still under construction.. please contact us if you have any questions!
Construction begins in the very same way as our hand-welted footwear - high quality full grain leather is hand selected for colour, depth of character, and durability. Once the best hide has been selected, the process of 'clicking' begins. "Clicking" is the process by which the hide is divided into individual pieces of leather, based on which sections of the hide are best suited for which sections of a boot or shoe. A pattern is used to cut the pieces to the precise shape and size required. The pieces are then thinned out (skived) on the edges as necessary, and then folded over to create a smooth edge that won't fray, and keep the water-shedding ability of the top "grain" intact. Additional reinforcement is added to any pieces than will experience additional stress, such as the top openings and the facings, where the lacing eyelets will be added later.
Insole - the backbone of the shoe
With the upper completed, attention is turned to the foundation. In shoemaking terminology, an "insole" isn't the typical insert put in for comfort reasons. Rather, in a good pair of shoes, it's the piece of leather to which everything else is ultimately sewn. It's sometimes called the backbone of the shoe, and that's not a bad analogy. We use thick vegetable tanned leather for this step, first cutting it to shape from a hand selected hide and splitting to the precise thickness we need before finally wet molding it to our lasts and affixing a steel shank.
Using such a robust foundation ensures a long life for the shoes, and because vegetable tanned leather is hydrophilic (moisture loving) by nature it is particularly well-suited to keep moisture levels under control while the shoe is being worn. This keeps feet happy and healthy even in you're on them all day.
The process of stretching the upper part of the shoe over the "last" (the wood or plastic form around which the shoe is constructed) is called "lasting". While large factories have machines to do this (and basically every other step too) all Ryaton footwear is lasted by hand.
First the heel stiffener, another piece of vegetable tanned leather, is brushed with a specially prepared paste on both sides, and is inserted between the upper leather and lining leather at the heel. These layers are pressed into place and the side stiffeners, more vegetable tanned pieces, are also inserted. By a series of actions to get everything lined up correctly, the upper is placed over the last and the first "pulls" are taken.
On alternating sides, the upper is slowly pulled tightly over the last. Each pull is secured by driving a nail through the upper, stiffener, lining, and insole, and into the last. Care must be taken to ensure that everything is properly lined up, and that lasting is proceeding quickly enough to make all the necessary pulls before the glue sets.
Brass nails are used to hold the shoe together in the nailed construction method. Borrowing on a technology used in boat building, "clinch" nails are driven through the layers of the shoe and against an iron anvil, whereby they are deformed, or clinched. The clinching prevents the nails from pulling back through and creates an incredibly strong connection between the upper and midsole, yet they can be removed in order to replace the sole when needed. Modern advancements in glue and machinery have seen brass nailed construction largely relegated to museums and old photographs, we think it's still a worthwhile tradition to keep alive. There's simply not a stronger construction out there.
That's not to say we're against all modern advancements. Far from it, in fact, in the interest in maximizing comfort we've included the best bit of microcellular cushioning into the midsole of every pair. We've taken to calling it "cloudfoot technology" because that's what it feels like. A leather sole is finally stitched on over the midsole and a leather heel is built up layer by layer. A final coating of wax is applied to seal the edges, a molded leather footbed is added, and these shoes are ready for an adventure.