In the footwear industry there are many ways to go about attaching the uppers of the shoe to its sole. This significant process is arguably the defining point of telling a good quality pair of shoes to others.
Often you will find where high-end footwear is discussed, the “Goodyear welt” method is contrasted to the “Blake stitch”. In this journal we will discuss each methodology, the difference between both and which to choose.
The Goodyear welt method and the welt machine was invented by Charles Goodyear Jnr in 1869.
The goodyear welt technique consists of the leather upper being folded between the insole and midsole. A leather welt is placed on the edge, outside of the outsole. First the insole, through the leather upper is stitched to the welt and then the welt right through the layer of the midsole is stitched to the outsole.
Goodyear welt enables the outsole to be re-soled easily time and time again when they are worn out. If your taking care of the upper, you’re effectively getting a brand-new pair of shoes with a new sole. The layers often found under the insole for example like cork or foam enables cushioning your stride and mould to your feet over time. Even the midsole can be changed to something that is more shock absorbing to support your ankles and knees. Lastly with the tight stitching throughout there is very less chance of damp or moist getting into the shoes, effectively making them waterproof.
However, the Goodyear does calls for sturdier craftmanship throughout the layers. Only certain skilled craftsmen and cobblers with the right tools can fully operate on the shoe as the makers do. The layers in the shoe makes the shoes heavy, losing its flexibility and becomes more rigid. Despite newer materials being tried and tested as technology advances. Traditional Goodyear welting shoemakers do things the old-fashioned way to be authentic and keep the methodology to its roots. Due to these approaches Goodyear welt is very expensive, time consuming and difficult to master.
Invented in 1856 by Lyman Reed Blake, the Blake stitching was the industrial revolution to Goodyear welting. It modernised the traditional process with the use of the Langhorn sewing machine used to stitch the insole to the outsole (on the inside) and the outsole to the insole (on the outside) without using any welts.
The Blake stitch is usually identified as the one visible stitch going around the sole of the shoes. It provides a nice aesthetic appeal which now even most Goodyear welt makers have taken approach to.
In this method as they are few layers involved this enables the shoe to be more lightweight and flexible. You will find more and more shoemakers will opt to go for Blake stitch because it is simple, just as effective as Goodyear, less production costs are occurred and the turnaround time to make Blake stitched shoes compare to Goodyear welt-built shoes can be 70% more efficient.
However, unlike Goodyear welting, the Blake stitch method makes resoling the shoes very hard. It can be accomplished but only if a Langhorn sewing machine is used and not all skilled craftsmen and cobblers have this machinery. Therefore, a relatively higher price is charged to refurb Blake stitched shoes in comparison to Goodyear welt shoes. As there are no welts on the edge outside of the outsole this makes the shoe less water resistant. But the outsole is nested tightly together with the close-cut uppers so it would be very surprising to see such case and does question the quality control of the brand purchased.
So, the burning question. Do I go for Goodyear welt or Blake stitch?
The answer is there isn’t a right or wrong answer. There is nothing wrong with Goodyear or Blake stitch itself, it does exactly the same thing and rightly so. Both are accompaniment top quality standards in handcrafting shoes. Here at Marc Brunell, you will see we have a choice of shoes using both sole stitching methods and each article is defined in its item’s description.
But should you have any more of further questions. Then please do get in touch and we would be happy to help.