|The Met, early 19th c. a pair of ladies' Congress Gaiters|
Did you know that elastic gores were first used on footwear in 1838? Indeed, by the 1840s, the "Congress" boot was all the rage in America as well as England, and featured a large triangular or U-shaped, set-in piece of either elastic web, or "shirred goods," the former being superior and preferred, on either side of the ankles, reaching to the tops of the boots. Congress boots fit tightly and smoothly, were comfortable, and were easy to get on and off - exactly the reasons why this type of shoe is still made today.
|The Met - 186s ladies' Congress gaiters|
|Tavistock's black elastic web gusset, set on the inside of the leg.|
Our culture is very much used to perfection straight out of the box, with the majority of modern footwear being made completely of flawless man-made materials. Many people having never polished shoes, had them resoled, stretched, or fitted by a shoemaker - that is, if there is even a shoe repair shop in your town.
|Move the buttons or don't - it's up to you|
Despite being a small designer brand with flexibility, American Duchess shoes are still mass-produced, even if that "mass" is only 200. This means we have to work within the limitations of both what our factory can produce, and what our customers desire - sometimes it can be a difficult balancing act, but while we always try to reach as many of you as we can, there will always be some we cannot.
The Tavistocks have certainly been a labor of love, and I am so very pleased with how they have turned out. They are at once an archaic design and a modern shoe, made to function as the originals did, but comfortably fit our 21st century feet in the way we expect. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
For more on this subject, check out Women's Shoes in America, 1795-1930 by Nancy Rexford.