The Shoe Welt Showdown: Blake vs. Goodyear

different shoe welts Black welt vs Goodyear welt

Quality shoes are complex: they have a wide variety of construction methods for every aspect of the shoe, and these options all have their pros and cons. In the welt showdown, we are going to look at shoe welting, and what you need to know when making a decision on the type of shoe welt you want in a pair.

First of all, what is a welt? Put simply, the welt is the layer of material that rests between the insole and the outsole of your shoe. The insole is the layer of material your foot makes contact with when you’re wearing your shoes. The outsole is the layer that makes contact with the ground. In order to create extra support and water resistance, and for a superior, more durable construction, a welt layer is essential. Another term we will be using here is the upper: the pieces that construct the main portion of the shoe, the portion your foot goes into.

Custom shoes with goodyear welt

Types of Shoe Welts

What is the difference between black welt and goodyear welt

There are three main varieties of welt attachment, but we’re going to look at two today. The third is called cementing, and it’s simply gluing the layers together. It’s cheap, easy to do, and is usually found on more casual shoes that are less well built. Here, we’re going to focus on the Goodyear and the Blake welt, as they are the more durable options which speak to a higher quality of shoe.

The Blake Welt

Industrial and flexible -the Blake welt is more common than the Goodyear. It’s more common because it’s easier to construct. The Blake welt’s industrial construction method requires a specific machine and cannot be done by hand. In a Blake welt, the upper wraps all the way around the insole, resting between the insole and the welt layer. A single stitch pushed down through the insole passes through the upper, the welt, and the outsole. It comes to rest perpendicular to the shoe’s layers.

Benefits of the Blake Shoe Welt

The Blake welt is simpler to construct compared to the Goodyear. It does require a specific machine to create, but on the whole, it is less expensive than a Goodyear welt. The stitch goes through only a few layers, making it more flexible. Because of its simplicity in construction, resoling is simple as well.

Drawbacks of the Blake Shoe Welt

On the other hand, because the Blake welt requires a specific machine, resoling can be more expensive, despite the initial construction of a Blake welt being on the less expensive side. In addition, while fewer layers does make the shoe more flexible, it also makes it less water resistant, and in some cases, less durable. Some men say their foot becomes irritated by the interior stitching on the insole, as well.

The Goodyear Welt

Custom and intricate -the Goodyear welt is less common and more complex. It’s more expensive to construct because the design is more intricate. Not to mention, shoes with Goodyear welts are handmade. Because of the intricate hand-construction, the welt is also more durable. For these reasons, most shoemakers and footwear connoisseurs consider the Goodyear to be the superior welt.

Construction of the Goodyear Welt

When we say the Goodyear welt construction is complex, we mean it. There is a three-step system involved in constructing a Goodyear welt. First, the shoemaker prepares the insole by creating a perpendicular rib that extends below the insole into the welt. Sometimes the rib uses material cut and sculpted from the insole material itself, or it can use an entirely different material. The maker then stretches the upper into the shape of the toe, and presses it up against the insole rib. A second rib, made from the upper, rests next to the insole rib.

Goodyear Shoe Welt Benefits

A major benefit of the Goodyear welt is that the two separate stitches makes for an easy resole. Also, while they are more expensive to construct up front, due to the extra materials and manual labor required, the lack of necessity for a specific machine makes for a less expensive resole. While the ribs make for a less flexible shoe, it is more supportive, durable, and water-resistant.

A pair of burgundy patina chukka shoes with goodyear welt.

So Which Shoe Welt is Right For You?

When picking a welt style, your choice comes down to trade-offs. In the Welt Showdown, we’ve highlighted some of the pros and cons, now it’s just down to what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to forego. If you’re looking for a hardy shoe that is going to last you for many, many years, go with a Goodyear. The Goodyear welt, with its durability, more involved construction process, and resoling capabilities, is widely considered the superior welt. Therefore, we strictly offer Goodyear welt shoes here at HARTTER MANLY. We want your shoes to last a lifetime and to only fit better with time. Like most elements of a man’s wardrobe, it’s a good idea to have a variety of options. If you’re only looking to invest in one pair of shoes now, take these tips into consideration. Head over to our store and shop our shoe collection, or book an appointment to customize the perfect pair for you.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

AUTHOR

Ezra Lambert

Ezra Lambert is a barber and freelance writer. In addition to his work in men’s grooming and lifestyle, he has also written numerous fiction pieces: two screenplays and a YA novel. He lives in San Diego, CA, with his dog, Toni. 

You can order your normal shoe size. Our products run true to size.

Would you like a more precise recommendation? Use the Feetsizr app to measure your feet for the perfect fit.