What is Goodyear welting?
Goodyear welting is a nearly 150-year-old construction method for making solid and durable shoes. It is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process that involves a lot of handwork and specific machinery operated by skilled workers. Every pair of Lennertsons is built with this construction
But how does it differ from other types of construction? Why does that matter? And how can you spot decent constructed shoes, so you don't waste any money on crappy shoes that'll break within the first year? Let's find out!
There are many different types of shoe construction. But for boots and dress shoes, 3 are common: Cemented, Blake stitched, and you guessed it: Goodyear welted.
Before we look at all three separately, it's worth noting - as shown in the video - that all types of construction can have a line of stitches on top of the sole that runs around the upper of the shoe. However, in only 1 out of these 3, those stitches are actually real: a genuine part of the construction. And those are Goodyear welted shoes. You might have that visual line of stitches on cemented or blake stitched shoes, but they're faux stitches. And 'faux' is just a fancy word for 'fake.' :)
On a more serious note: there's nothing wrong with a decorative stitch, but just know that these don't actually tell you anything about the type of construction or quality of a shoe.
The cheap option: Cemented shoes
Cemented shoes have glued soles. The shoe's upper is built and finally glued to an outsole, not much more to it. It's a cheap and fast method that makes for cheap and fast shoes: very low quality.
The biggest issue with cemented shoes is that at some point, the outsole will start to separate from the upper, at which point you might as well throw the shoe out. Cemented shoes are really hard to repair. They're not durable, not sustainable, and your feet just deserve better as far as I'm concerned.
Next up is Blake stitch construction
You can tell - by its name alone - this is a stitched construction. With blake construction, the outsole is stitched directly to the insole. The stitches are visible from the outside at the bottom of the sole and inside the shoe on top of the insole. In case you see stitches on top of the outsole running next to the upper, these are still decorative. (unless it's a 'Blake rapid' construction, but that's pretty rare, so let's not get into that)
Blake stitch makes for a sturdy and decent construction. However, if you live in a place with a lot of wet weather (I'm looking at you Belgium), they're pretty impractical. Because when you step into a pool of rainwater, those stitches will soak up the water and lead it straight into the shoe, getting your feet wet. I've had this happen to me: it's no fun!
Goodyear welting takes the cake
Goodyear welting has been around for over 150 years. It is a very labor-intensive production, hence also more costly to produce. Out of these different constructions, it definitely makes for the most durable shoes.
First, the upper and insole are built to the last. Next, the welt - a narrow strip of leather - is stitched to the upper and insole. This creates a cavity underneath the insole, which is then filled with a layer of agglomerated cork. This is an excellent feature as the cork will take on the shape of your feet over time. Finally, the outsole is stitched to the welt in a SEPERATE stitching run. It's these stitches you'll see on top of the welt and at the bottom of the sole.
A Goodyear welted shoe is incredibly durable and will last you many years, if not a lifetime. One of the very best features is that it is virtually endlessly repairable. When over a long period you wear through the sole, a skilled shoemaker can take it off and stitch on a new sole time and time again.
Concluding: how do you spot the difference?
To be honest, it's sometimes hard to tell for the untrained eye. But here's a clue: almost all brands or manufacturers that sell Goodyear welted shoes will tell it's Goodyear welted. It is such a costly endeavor for a business, we want you to know. Look at us: we put 'GOODYEAR WELTED' beneath our logo on our shoes whenever there is space for it.
It's kinda like the 'stainless steel kitchen knife' of shoes and boots: if you look for it, you'll find it.
If you've learned something from this blog, feel free to connect with us to talk some more shoe.
Don't feel like reading? Watch the video instead:
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