In the latter part of the nineteenth century Charles Goodyear junior patented a method of mechanized shoe construction. Having a separate leather welt was long recognized as the superior method of making shoes but his patent meant that the method need no longer be as time consuming and enabled shoes and boots to be made in far greater numbers in a production line by skilled workers. Footwear made in this way was known as goodyear welting and proved to be by far and away the finest form of shoe construction. Essentially the upper leather is stitched to a strip of leather, called the welt, which runs around the shoe. This welt is then stitched separately to the sole.
Goodyear welted shoes mold much better to the foot and once ‘broken in’ become sublime to wear. Footwear constructed in this way can also be re-soled without stitching new holes into the upper leather as the upper is not interfered with.
All the best English shoe makers to this day prefer the Goodyear welted method of construction for their premium shoes including: Loake, Alfred Sargent, Cheaney, Churches, Sanders, Barker, Grenson and Lobb.
Be sure to ask your cobbler to perform a goodyear welted re-sole when the time comes for a new sole. Otherwise he may be tempted to do a simpler blakey stitched sole which just isn’t as good.