In the world of men's shoes, there are shoes, and then there are Goodyear welted shoes. The Goodyear welt construction method requires a well-trained shoemaker who values patience and accuracy. Hundreds of years of experience and ingenuity in shoemaking have gone into creating the Goodyear welted shoe. And despite advances in production, hundreds of steps are still required to produce just one pair. The result, however, is a leather shoe that is more durable, more comfortable, and more desired than any other shoe you will likely come across.
The upper leather, lining leather, and a specially prepared piece of leather (welt) are stitched to the ribbing already attached to the insole. The welt is then stitched to these components and the outsole. The final stitch is key and cutting through it means complete removal and repair of almost any component within the shoe.
In Australia, 99% of shoes you will find on High Street, and even in department stores, are made using cement construction. With this method, the leather upper is glued directly on to the outsole. It is a cheap, quick, and an effective process used to produce footwear on a mass-scale. The major disadvantage of cemented shoes is that once the sole needs replacing it is difficult to resole and not cost-effective. As with all mass-produced products, longevity does not feature strongly with cemented footwear.
The Goodyear Welt Advantage
History of Goodyear Welt
Prior to the 1860s, shoemaking was done entirely by hand. Costly, time-consuming, and inefficient, this all changed when Charles Goodyear Jr developed a modified sewing machine that used a curved needle and awl to sew the welt onto shoes without needing to penetrate the insole.
The Goodyear Welt Construction method became the standard in shoemaking and enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity through to the mid-20th century.
Advances in shoe manufacturing, however, made shoes more accessible, affordable, but sadly, more disposable. Glue replaced stitches. Rubber replaced cork. By the turn of the 21st century, Goodyear Welted footwear was all but forgotten.
Goodyear Welt Shoes Today
Thankfully, within the last decade Goodyear Welt Construction has experienced a renaissance of sorts. There are several possible reasons for this: The digitilisation of almost everything; rejection of fast fashion; sustainability through quality; a longing for the old crafts; simple economics, i.e. cost-per-wear. The why’s are up for debate. The logic behind them is universal.
Men's boots and shoes constructed via the Goodyear welt method are considered superior and are known to last for decades. This is because almost any component can be replaced, and the process can be repeated many times over. The realisation of just how expensive "cheaper" shoes are over time, and how many of them end up in landfill every year, is startling and completely avoidable.
Comfort is another understated benefit. The granulated cork filler cushions one's stride and moulds to one's feet over time. A variety of different midsoles and outsoles can be attached or replaced to suit your preference, such as a closed-channel leather outsole, or Dainite studded rubber outsole.
For those looking to add a pair of Goodyear Welted shoes (or boots) to your collection, The Thomas George Collection meets you with a triumphant ‘yes’. Goodyear Welted footwear can do so much. Durable. Comfortable. Virtually waterproof. With only 1% of the population wearing them, they aren’t going to turn heads at first blush, but that understatement is also its greatest strength. Invest in Goodyear Welted footwear – the initiated will know.