History Of The Goodyear Welt
In 1846 the sewing machine revolutionised the shoe industry and a decade later the introduction the Blake stitch furthered the development of shoemaking with a machine that could sew the soles of shoes to the upper.
Another decade later in 1869, Goodyear Jr. was able to purchase a modified sewing machine that improved upon the Blake Stitch. The design of the machine took different shape over the six year period between its purchase and final patent but now forms what we know as the famous Goodyear Welt.
What Actually Is A Goodyear Welt?
The welt refers to a strip of leather that is sewn around the perimeter of the upper of the shoe, onto the insole. The outer sole is then sewn to the welt, as opposed to being attached directly to the upper like the Blake stitch method. The cavity created by the welt between the insole and the outer sole is filled with cork, another natural product which provides insulation, protection, and comfort: as you wear the shoe, the cork filler takes an impression of your foot, like memory foam. This provides unparalleled comfort and support when compared to cheaper forms of manufacturing.
There will always be a ‘breaking in’ process for Goodyear Welted Shoes. The upper needs to soften and take the shape of your foot, the cork needs to mould, and the leather soles will need to be scratched up a bit on a dry, gritty surface to make sure you’re not gliding around your office like sartorial Swan Lake. Once this is done (roughly 5-6 wears) you will be supported exactly where you need to be and you probably won’t want to take them off to go to bed.
Why Invest In A Pair?
A Goodyear Welted shoe is certainly an investment, our Goodyear Welted brands; Berwick, Loake, Barker and Church's, which are all European made, price's range between $425 and $1095. The more expensive the shoe, the higher quality of the leather and more hand involvement goes into making them, for example a pair of Church's takes 12 weeks to make.
Investing in a pair of Goodyear Welted shoes is to invest in quality and in many ways sustainability, instead of a pair of fast fashion shoes that barely survive 6 months of hard wear that ultimately will end up in landfill, your Goodyear Welted shoes can last for years if you take care of them (see our article on how to correctly polish your shoes). Capable of being re-soled up to 6 times these shoes are built to last, and indeed become are an investment that pays in dividends. Ultimately the cost of replacing cheaper and less well-made shoes adds up until you've spent as much money if not more on shoes that you would if you purchase quality European made, Goodyear Welted shoes.