So often you find an amazing pair of shoes in the perfect style, fit and colour only to watch them fall apart over a couple of months of wear. This is because the cheapest way to commercially produce shoes is to glue the ‘upper’ (the leather or fabric body) to the sole of the shoe with an industrial adhesive. This can produce a clean finish to a shoe, and is a quick and inexpensive way to mass produce shoes. Footwear made this way however, doesn’t tend to last very long and can break relatively easily. There is a more expensive and more time consuming method of bonding the shoes together: which is called the Goodyear Welt.
The predecessors of the Goodyear Welted shoes are produced by a method known as the Blake Stitch. These were the first shoes made on a sewing machine, and were stitched through the upper into the sole to hold them much more securely than the glue alternative. This was a very light way of bonding the two that changed the production of shoes permanently. The problem with this method is that the stitch holes made into the shoe’s upper meant that the shoes were never fully watertight; and as such this method of construction is still used on many dress shoes, where a water tight seal isn’t necessary due to their function of being worn indoors.
Instead, Charles Goodyear Jr. designed a method of joining the upper of the shoe to the sole in such a way that there are no direct holes from the inside of the shoe to the outside, rendering them fully watertight. A ‘welt’ (or leather strip) is used to sew around the edge to the sole, and the upper is sewn with the lining on the inside, to provide a superior finish to the shoe. Over the last 150 years, this has developed into what is now known as the ‘Goodyear Welt’.
But is a Goodyear Welt really necessary? The Goodyear Welt is a higher-grade finish to a shoe than glue, which means that they will last a lot longer. In a time when fashion is slowing back down and the need for new and varied shoes comes to a halt, this means that buying a much better quality pair of shoes that will last you for longer is much more desirable. The welt also allows for relatively easy repair of shoes if the stitching breaks or if a sole needs replacing, making them a much more sustainable choice.
The welt is considered by many to be quite a desirable feature, with often the leather welt being made from a complementary coloured leather with stitching in a decorative colour. The combination of this aesthetic desirability, the patented waterproof design and the longevity granted by the technique means that shoes with a Goodyear Welted sole are far superior to their glued counterparts. But why take our word for it! See for yourself by finding our range of Goodyear Welted shoes here>