Goodyear Welt Review – Are Goodyear Welted Shoes Worth it?

Ah, the Goodyear welt. It’s a feature that so many gentlemen sought after in their shoes.

Dress shoes can be constructed in so many ways. Every method affects the appearance, durability, and comfort of the shoe itself.

Every connoisseur knows to keep an eye out for the construction method when purchasing a new pair. Do you?

If not, that’s okay!

Today you will be learning about the Goodyear welt if it’s worth getting, and how it stands up against other construction types.

Goodyear Welt Review

What is a Goodyear Welt?

The Goodyear welt was invented by Charles Goodyear in 1869. It is a construction method that involves stitching the outer sole into the perimeter of the upper.

As a result, it prevents the sole from falling off and makes it much easier to be re-soled in the future. It looks a little something like this.

How does a Goodyear Welt Work?

To begin, the upper of the shoe is folded between the insole and outsole. The welt, which is usually leather, is then placed along the edges of the outsole.

The shoemaker will then stitch through the welt, the upper, the insole, and back out of the welt. Lastly, a final stitch is made through the outside of the shoe and passes the bottom and welt.

What does a Goodyear Welt Look Like?

If you’ve ever seen dress shoes with a visible stitch on the sole and perimeter, it is most likely Goodyear welting.

Take this pair of Magnanni’s, you can see the stitching around the outsole. This usually indicates that the shoemakers used a Goodyear construction, but there are other things to look for, too.

On the top, you can see the final stitch that is put through during the last step of construction. These beautiful Fellmonger brogues are perfect examples.

Are Goodyear Welt Shoes Comfortable?

Yes, very much so!

When a Goodyear welt is implemented onto a shoe, it creates a cavity that is filled with cork. A cork footbed will form to your foot over time and makes every step softer.

This construction method also stops water and other outside debris from entering the shoe. While not waterproof, it is certainly water-resistant.

But, you also have to consider that Goodyear welted shoes take time to break-in. They are typically stiff and maybe a bit uncomfortable at first. Over time they will become one of your favorite and most comfortable dress shoes, though.

Goodyear Welt vs Blake Welt

Blake welting is one of the most common approaches to welting a shoe. It’s easier and more affordable for both the shoemaker and the consumer.

During the industrial revolution, it became popular as it was easily automated with machinery. This means that it can’t be done by hand and lacks that special human element.

The upper is wrapped around the insole and stitched between the outsole. This means that a single stitch attaches everything.

Blake welted shoes tend to be more comfortable and easier to break-in. You’ll find that they come at a better price point and re-selling is simple. Though it does require special Blake-specific equipment to do, which can be costly.

Goodyear Welt vs Stitchdown Construction

The stitchdown construction method dates back all the way to the 17th century. It’s been around for literally centuries.

It is believed to originate from South Africa when the Cape Dutch belonged to the Dutch — hence the name. They would take untanned hide from game animals, flange the upper outwards, and stitch it down onto a midsole and outsole.

Do you know the boot company Clarks? They used this approach for their classic Desert boot back in the 1950s and still do.

It isn’t uncommon for modern shoes to use both a Goodyear welting machine and the equipment needed for the Stitchdown technique.

One benefit of shoes made with this approach is that they will be easier on the pocket.

Goodyear Welt vs Storm Welt

The Norwegian welt or “storm welt” as many call it, is hands-down the best construction for water resistance and preventing weather from damaging the inside of your shoe.

Have you ever stepped into a puddle or had snow get into your shoes? It’s a time like that when a Storm welt could’ve saved you a lot of discomforts.

The interesting thing about this style is that the stitching is actually done on the exterior, not the interior.

The Bottomline

Goodyear welt shoes come at a higher price, but for good reason.

Their construction adds a lot of longevity to dress shoes and makes re-soleing them easy as pie.

Aesthetically, it adds a fine element of craftsmanship that you can tell apart from a regular shoe instantly.

Blake, Stitchdown, and Storm welt techniques all have their own benefits. The popular opinion is that Goodyear beats them all, but they each have their own unique uses.

A shoe made with a Goodyear welt will be a tad uncomfortable at first. The shoe may feel stiff, but eventually will break in and feel incredible.

A cork footbed is usually included as well, which adds to the comfort. If you’re ever shoe shopping, inspect the stitching on the outsole and around the perimeter of the upper to determine if it’s Goodyear or not.

All in all, it’s an incredibly effective technique for shoemaking and every man should experience it themselves.

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