Why Do Sharp Dressed Men LOVE Welted Shoes?
Sounds kind of…rubbery.
Like pink erasers.
Or old tires.
So why do you KEEP hearing about it…
In EVERY conversation about good quality shoes?
What exactly is a Goodyear welted shoe?
What advantages does it have over other kinds of shoe construction, like Blake stitched or bonded shoes?
Read on to find out what they are.
To start this off, I'll quickly explain the difference between bonded shoe construction, Blake stitch construction, and Goodyear welted shoe construction.
Types Of Dress Shoe Construction
This method uses an adhesive (like cement or glue) to attach the upper to the sole. There's no stitching. This is the least expensive form of manufacturing. They're basically producing disposable shoes.
There are some advantages to bonding. It usually produces a very lightweight shoe, for example. So for combat use, or for running shoes, this is probably the type of construction you'll want to go with.
#2. Blake Stitch
The Blake stitch method is a huge step up in quality from the bonded method. Instead of glue, it involves actually stitching the upper down to the sole. It's very common in Italian dress shoe manufacturing because it enables you to create a very sleek-looking dress shoe of high quality.
Imagine links in a chain. With Blake stitch construction, you've only got two links and they're directly connected to each other – the upper and the sole.
In Goodyear welted construction, the welt is the key. The welt is directly sewn to both the upper and the sole – but the sole is NOT directly sewn to the upper. So we have three links in the chain: upper, welt, sole. The welt separates the sole and the upper.
All right – I know what you guys are thinking. Why does that small difference in construction matter? Well – there are three reasons why the Goodyear welted shoe has an advantage over the other forms of construction.
Goodyear Welt Advantages
Men who wear Blake stitched shoes in the rain or snow often complain about their feet getting wet. Why? Because you've got the upper directly connected to the sole, and all that's connecting them is a thread. That's your only line of defense against the elements. Goodyear welt construction, on the other hand, does not provide an easy path for water into the shoe.
#2. Hardwearing Shoes
Goodyear welted shoes are built for a man who plans to own his shoes for a long time. He wants shoes that are of good quality material and top-notch construction. He gives them the tender loving care they deserve and prefers shoes that are easy to resole. This last point in particular makes Goodyear welted shoes the obvious choice.
The manufacturing process for Goodyear welting is one of the most expensive ways to make shoes – so it's chosen by manufacturers who spend a lot of money on materials, as well as on the craftsmanship and detail that go into the work. They're spending so much on that labor that it makes sense to go ahead and spend extra money on the materials. So they do. And it shows.
Goodyear welted shoes are the easiest to resole and can be resoled many more times than other types of shoes. The problem with Blake stitch shoes is that the upper is attached to the sole. If you're actually putting holes on the upper, you can only do that so many times before the shoe starts to fall apart.
You can get bonded shoes resoled. But again – it does a little bit of damage to the bottom of the shoe every time. And often they have such a low-quality upper it's not even worth it.
When it comes to Goodyear welted shoes, not only is the resoling going to be easy because the stitching is on the outside, but as long as the upper stays in great shape you can resole them as many times as you need to. You're simply replacing the sole. You're also going to replace the welt – but the upper is going to stay intact.
The Blake stitch has the stitching on the INSIDE of the shoe. On the Goodyear welt it's on the outside. A lot of guys say that's more comfortable.
Me personally? I love both styles. Yes, I love my Goodyear welted shoes. But I've also got a wide variety of Blake stitched shoes that I like. And I've bought bonded – yes, glued – shoes that I quite liked. Why? Because they were inexpensive and they got me started. I've also got running shoes, where bonding works perfectly fine.
This article wasn't about bashing one shoe style or saying one is truly better than the other. It really depends on what your needs are. But I think for many situations a Goodyear welt definitely has its advantages. It's one of the highest signs of quality when it comes to men's shoes.