The words welt and welted are widely used when referring to shoe construction but it would be useful to give a little detail to avoid confusion over what are welted shoes. To begin with a welt is a strip of material usually around an inch wide which runs around the entire shoe or, most often with shoes, just to the heels. The upper of the shoe which bends inwards towards itself is stitched to the inside side of the welt. This stitching is therefore invisible on the outside of the shoe. The sole is then stitched to the side of the welt which projects away from the shoe. This means that when it comes to resoling the shoe at a later date the new stitches go into the welt and not the upper itself. After a number of resoles and the welts therefore weakened new welts can be fitted but the integrity of the upper remains good.
Welts can be made of a number of different materials but leather and plastic are the norm. Plastic is cheaper but cobblers dislike it since it’s difficult to stitch into.
Welted shoes have a cavity under the insole and between the welt which is traditionally filled with cork pulp. This fabulous natural material provides additional cushioning but also helps the shoe to mould to the shape of the wearers foot.
Although welted shoes are generally regarded as the finest very few modern women’s shoes are made with welts. Welted construction adds to the price of the shoe and women’s shoes tend to be more fashion and price oriented.