What are the advantages of buying a pair of goodyear welted shoes? All the great English premium shoe brands such as John Lobb, Churches, Tricker’s, Edward Green, Sanders, Crockett & Jones and Loake shoes offer a comprehensive selection of goodyear welted, leather and rubber, soled shoes and boots. But since there are many less time consuming methods of production why after two hundred years does this remain the preferred method?
The answer is actually quite simple. Every other method of construction involves either sticking (bonding) the sole to the upper leather or stitching the sole directly to the upper leather. Well sticking the two together is all very well but with constant wear, temperature and humidity variations the bond can/will eventually fail leading to sole and upper to part company from one another – not ideal. Stitching the sole directly to the upper sounds reasonable until you realize that when it comes to renewing the worn soles the cobbler will stitch the new soles directly onto the old upper again.
Inevitably his needle will make new holes for the thread, effectively perforating the leather to an extent that the upper leather is at risk of tearing apart. He might get away with one re-soling but any more and the shoe is liable to fail. This method of attaching the sole is known in the trade as ‘Blakey’ stitching.
With a goodyear welted soling a long strip of one inch wide leather, called the welt, is stitched all around the upper leather where it would normally meet the sole. This is then stitched separately onto the sole leather. As a result when a new sole is required it can be stitched directly to the welt and the new stitching does not interfere with the upper leather itself. Eventually the welt or parts of it might need replacing but this is a fairly straightforward operation. If you are buying a good pair of shoes you will want them to last and this time honoured method of construction means they can last many years. It is a time-consuming method of construction but the great English brands such as John Lobb, Churches, Tricker’s, Edward Green, Sanders, Crockett & Jones and Loake shoes continue to favour this method.
One tip: when you take your goodyear welted shoes to the cobbler for a re-sole, do insist that he does a goodyear welted repair. Some will do a blakey repair thinking the customer won’t notice. Then the next time you take them for a repair the next cobbler will tut and say ‘who on earth did you get to repair these last time?’