How can you assess the quality of a shoe at a glance? Look to the welt. For the uninitiated, the welt is the strip of leather that runs around the perimeter of a shoe, binding the outsole to the upper component of the shoe. Welt stitching is a hallmark of exceptional shoe construction. Shoes of inferior quality tend to use adhesives rather than welt stitching, making the shoe nearly impossible to re-sole and more susceptible to water intrusion. There are two widely accepted welting methods – the Blake and the Goodyear welt – each with their own unique advantages.
The Goodyear Welt
If you can say one thing about the Goodyear family, it’s that they were an industrious bunch. In 1934, Charles Goodyear was a bankrupt hardware merchant serving time for unpaid debts who whiled away his time in jail by kneading raw rubber gum with a rolling pin. Ten years later, after nearly suffocating himself with experimental chemicals, Goodyear had (somewhat accidentally) cemented his legacy as the inventor of vulcanized rubber.
Then, in 1869, Charles Goodyear Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps and changed the face of modern shoe production by developing a new kind of durable, reusable welt. Prior to the invention of the Goodyear welt, outsoles were painstakingly hand-stitched directly to the underside of the insole. The Goodyear welt allowed the outsole to be stitched, either by hand or machine, outside the edge of the insole, making it far easier for cobblers to re-sole shoes. In effect, the Goodyear welt acts as a kind of bridge between the outsole and the insole of a shoe. The space between the insole and the outsole is filled with cork, giving the shoe an extra degree of support.
Blake stitching is the younger of our two contenders; a product of the Industrial Revolution that greatly simplified the welting process while retaining the structural integrity of the earlier Goodyear welt. In shoes constructed with Blake stitching, the upper component of the shoe is stretched around the insole, and then a single stitch binds the outsole, insole, and upper together. Because the welt is stitched within the inside of the shoe, Blake stitching requires a specialized machine to stitch the sole to the upper. Likewise, Blake stitched shoes are somewhat more difficult to re-sole than their Goodyear welted counterparts.
They are, however, far lighter than Goodyear welted shoes and typically less expensive as well. Blake stitching entails a simpler construction and more discreet welt than the Goodyear, without sacrificing durability or comfort. Blake stitching has become an integral part of the tradition of fine Italian shoe construction, whereas Goodyear welting is more common in English shoes. At Paul Evans, by virtue of our shoes’ Blake construction, we’re able to provide our customers with a comfortable, sturdy, and elegant shoe that is far more affordable than Goodyear welted alternatives.
Welt stitching is a hallmark of exceptional shoe construction. Shoes of inferior quality tend to use adhesives rather than welt stitching – making the shoe nearly impossible to re-sole and more susceptible to water intrusion.
At Paul Evans, we’ve made it our mission to bring high-quality shoe construction to a new generation of forward-thinking consumers. Blake construction is an absolute staple of this mission. Stop in, or shop online today and find out for yourself what quality shoe construction feels like.