There are various ways of making men’s footwear and pretty much everyone agrees that goodyear welt construction is the best method. Let’s explain why:
The simplest option is when the factory has the upper stuck onto the sole with powerful glues. This is certainly the cheapest and fastest method of construction. However once the sole has worn through to the upper you have little option but to throw the shoes or boots away. A re-sole may be attempted but they are rarely successful. Also the upper has no rigidity and can offer little support to the foot. This may be fine for light weight shoes but not for more serious form of footwear.
Another option is when the factory stitches the sole directly onto the upper. This is known as Blakey stitching and makes re-soling possible. However with each re-sole additional holes are punched through the upper which will eventually become weakened and the re-sole will eventually fail. This method is widely used outside the UK and is only marginally more expensive than gluing the upper to the sole.
With goodyear welt construction a leather welt, which is a strip of leather about three quarters of an inch wide, is stitched to the outside edge of the upper. This creates a void in which pulped cork is packed. The welt is the separately stitched to the sole. This creates a far more rigid form of construction allowing a great deal more support for the foot. Also the shoe or boot can retain its shape without collapsing. Additionally the cork filler helps to mould the insole to the shape of the foot creating significantly more comfort. When it comes to a re-sole the new sole is stitched to the replaceable welt and therefore does not degrade the upper leather.
Goodyear welt construction by contrast to the three simpler methods mentioned above is rather more time consuming. For a pair of shoes to come through the factory can invariably take from 6 to 8 weeks. But to get a better looking, fitting and supporting shoe and one which can be repaired isn’t it worth it?
In a world where we are trying to move away from disposable single use products goodyear welt construction is the ideal solution.