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Know Your Footwear

Sunday, 10th March 2019

GOODYEAR WELT vs BLAKE STITCH

I often get asked why my footwear price ranges differ so much, Trying to explain is quite difficult, so to help us all out, see the facts of the different footwear constructions that I sell. 

It is a well-known fact that welted shoes last much longer than shoes made using other types of construction methods. Welts are the pieces of leather where the sole of the shoe attaches to the upper leather. Most cheaply made shoes don’t have welts, the sole is just cemented directly onto the bottom of the upper, so when the sole wears down the shoe has to be thrown out.

Quality shoes, however, have their soles stitched to the upper so a cobbler can easily replace the sole. The two most common shoe construction methods in the industry are the Goodyear welt and the Blake stitch.

THE GOODYEAR WELT

Due to its longstanding heritage, little needed maintenance, waterproof durability and clean aesthetic, 

The Goodyear welt is arguably the most prolific construction method within the leather footwear industry. The Goodyear welttakes its name from Charles Goodyear Jr., an American inventor who automated the previously hand made welting process in 1869. This very same method is still used by cobblers around the world today.

The first step in constructing a Goodyear welt is to stretch the upper over a last and bring it together with the insole, mid-sole, and welt using what is called a welt-stitch; one of two elements in the Goodyear welt, along with the (rapidstitch)that holds the entire operation together. From there, in a relatively simple last step, the welt is cemented and rapid stitched to the both the mid and outsoles. All 

A slight modification of the Goodyear welt is known as the Storm Welt. The Storm welt construction uses a welt similar to that of a Goodyear constructed shoes but wider. The extra width allows the welt to be bent upwards, creating a seal around the junction between the upper and the mid-sole. Aptly named, the Storm welt is generally considered to offer greater moisture protection than a simple Goodyear welt. 

THE BLAKE STITCH

Shoes made using the Blake stitch go without a welt altogether. It simply uses a single channeled stitch running straight from the outsole through to the interior to hold the different elements of the shoe together. Some modern shoemakers slip a lining within the shoe to hide the Blake stitch from a bird’s eye view, however the more traditional method was to leave the Blake stitch visible.

The Blake stitch has become less common. While a Blake stitched shoe can be resoled, it needs a specific Blake machine to do so – making it much more difficult and expensive than resoling a Goodyear welted shoe. While fewer layers make the sole more flexible, they also make it less water-resistant. Water can wick up through the sole and begin to pool more quickly and easily. There are also some men who complain about irritation at the bottom of their feet because of the interior stitchin