The spade sole

The spade sole

Here at Ace of Spades we are obsessed with the spade sole shoe, but what are spade sole shoes? This is a fashion in the shoe genre and is quite old, it even started at the end of 19th centry, in the 1880s in America. It has gone in and out of fashion and been popular many times throughout the 20th century. Now real spades can only be found on vintage stores and second hand like Ebay etc. And they are tricky to find.

So what are spades you might ask, well spade sole shoes is a term that refers to shoes with a special designed sole. The sole of the shoe have a form that resemble a spade, or shovel, at the front foot bed. The waist is usually bevelled and what is vital is the pointed edges connecting the waist of the sole to the front part. The size of the sole is wider than conventional shoes, and here we can see a variety of interpretations among the spade sole shoes. Some are ridiculous wide and some even have a thick sole. 

Closer view of the spade

Closer view of the spade

At a closer glance at the shoes, we can clearly see the width of the sole reaching further than conventional shoes. We can also find the two stitching lines along the welt required for sturdy construction. One can use a lighter color thread to enhance the effect of the spade. Making a contrast in colors like this makes the  spade pop and highlight the sole and the extravagant form of the sole.

The sole have its widest point just before the waist of the shoe, at this point the sole narrows quickly and creates a very sharp edge from the wide front to the bevelled waist. This almost mimicks the shape of a shovel or spade, placed underneath a shoe. Thus the name Spade. Some designs throughout history have been with a rounded edge, less sharp edge. This is debated if it is indeed a spade, and can be argued against or in favor of this, but we here at Ace of Spades are a true believer of the sharp edge of the sole to be defined as a true spade sole. 

If we look at modern shoes we can find this sharp edge on some bespoke shoes, usually a result of a bevelled waist or fiddleback. If this is a influence from the past one can argue, and in some cases it seems so. But again to be a true spade, we need a noticeable wider welt along the front of the shoe. Usually bespoke shoes shows their craftmanship through a very narrow sole, very tight welt to the upper. This design is today very popular and I can agree to its powerful impact on design and craftsmanship. But again, to be defined as a true spade we need that wide welt, and we are forced to sew two threads making the shaper edge usually found on bespoke shoes a very classy expression, but not a true spade.

Production of the spade

Production of the spade

These four main design variables of course did vary in between brands and what was popular during its decade, since each period had its own niche. Today the spade sole is but a memory and the old manufacturing technique is lost, When producing a conventional sole with goodyear welted shoe, or conventional handwelted for that matter, the sole welt is sown along close to the edge. And the dainty usually prefers the welt very thin and shallow, forcing the seam very close to the seam in the more high end options available.

The width of the welt thus becomes problematic for the spade design since structural issues and rigidity occurs. To solve this the welt is sown along two seams along the welt.

These two seam solution allows for the rigidity and structural reliability all along the welt even at the wides parts. some automated shoes have been made with this kind of sole, but we believe in the longevity of high quality shoes, and we currently only offer the handmade option.

More expensive but a shoe lasting a lifetime. Thus the choice in materials are very delicate, and that is why we only work alongside master artisans and mainly Italian leathers and Italian leather soles.

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