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The Gentleman's Guide to Goodyear Welted Construction

Posted on January 21 2020

It's a rite of passage for the young gentleman. He puts on his spanking new pair of Goodyear welted shoes and takes his first steps into adulthood. It is something he will remember all his life, because, as any gentleman would tell you, the Goodyear welted shoes are for all practical purposes immortal. Well, immortal enough to last you a lifetime, that is.

So, how exactly does a pair of shoes last you a lifetime? More importantly, what is a Goodyear welt?

To answer that, we must turn back the clock to the 19th century.

It's 1869. Charles Goodyear Jr., the son of Charles Goodyear, the creator of vulcanized rubber, develops a sewing machine to stitch the welt, upper and soles of a pair of shoes without the need for hand sewing. In 1871, he patents the machine. The technique which is time-consuming and expensive, requiring skilled craftsmanship, is still used to this day.

Here's how it's done. The upper of the shoe is folded between the insole and the outsole. The leather welt is placed along the edges of the outsole. The welt, upper and insole are stitched together. Finally, a stitch is made from the outside of the shoe which passes the bottom and the welt.

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And here's what makes it special. Since the sole isn't directly stitched to the upper, unlike other shoes, it can be separated easily. Gone are the days of throwing away shoes after the soles are worn out. Goodyear welted shoes can be resoled again and again, over a lifetime.

That's the secret. The Goodyear welted shoes may be expensive, but as any gentleman would tell you, it works out more sustainable in the long run. Instead of buying and replacing your shoes time and time, invest in a good pair of Goodyear welted shoes and keep it going for years. It also reduces consumption and wastage, contributing to the environmental health of our planet.


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