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Goodyear Welt Vs Blake Stitch
Have you ever wondered what the difference between a pair of shoes that cost under $100 and those that cost over $1000? Well, things such as quality leather, brand name, and country of construction are all factors; the biggest differentiator is the quality of the built quality.
By built quality, we’re referring to the method through which the sole is attached to the upper of the shoe. For reference purposes, here’s a quick rundown of the major players in a shoe’s construction: Goodyear Welt vs Blake Stich.
Of course, both construction methods have nothing to do with leather quality, style, material or country of origin. Still, it’s fair to say that these terms have become synonymous with high-quality footwear.
Most modestly, shoes don’t have welts. Instead, the outsole is simply cemented directly onto the bottom of the shoe upper. Aside from sounding quite inelegant, the issue with such shoes is that their soles cannot be replaced when necessary.
It’s just game over. The two common stitching methods, which are also a sign of good quality, are Goodyear welt and Blake Stitch. But what defines the two, and what makes them better quality. As with most things, the answer is convoluted.
Goodyear welting is customarily known for being the accompaniment of top-quality handcrafted footwear. The Goodyear machine was invented by Charles Goodyear JNR in 1869 and was used by the majority of cobbling institutions in Northampton.
On the other hand, Blake’s construction, currently notable as a far more European look, was invented in 1856 by Layman Reed Blake. This stitching technique is unquestionably linked to the industrial revolution.
This is because the specific stitching employed in the Blake method cannot be done by hand. Instead, it uses a longhorn sewing machine. This helps to sew all the layers without using welts, stitching through the outsole, insole, and the bottom of the shoe.
Below is a detailed comparison explaining why both methods are a stellar reputation in the footwear industry.
What is Goodyear Welt Construction?
Goodyear Welt is the oldest, most durable, and most labor-intensive of the available construction methods. On well-constructed shoes, the welt is a strip of leather that runs along the perimeter of the outsole. Its main purpose is for attaching the upper to the outsole. While it involves multiple styles, Goodyear welt construction can be done by machine or by hand.
Goodyear Welting is usually considered as a sign of high quality, particularly in boots. And aside from being so traditional, it’s very sturdy and quite possibly the best method of sole shoe.
The welt is, in most cases, a strip of leather, though it technically can be plastic or rubber that runs along the perimeter of the shoe’s sole. In Goodyear welt construction, shoemakers take a strip of leather and sew it to the upper of the shoe. The sole is then sewed/attached to the same strip of leather. It’s a way the upper and the sole.
This two-level stitching makes it really easy to resole a Goodyear welted boot, as the welt serves as a buffer between the outsole and the insole. Thus, a cobbler can separate the sole and attach a new one by machine or by hand, without special machines. Note that Goodyear welt shoes aren’t restricted to any particular sole. The Vibram leather and anything suitable can be part of a Goodyear welt shoe.
Goodyear Welted shoes are typically water-resistant because of the stitches being separated by a leather barrier. Shoes with Goodyear welt construction are generally more durable, more comfortable, and tend to last longer. Of course, there are several different types of Goodyear welts, but we’ll be talking about the term as it’s generally defined.
One important thing about this construction method is that it improves water resistance. The fact that it’s not part of the outsole or the upper makes it far easier for the shoes to be resoled without changing the fit, provided it’s done on the same last it was initially made on.
Among the best shoe construction methods, blake is the simplest and most common. It is a by-product of the industrial revolution as the stitching is done on the inside of the shoe, which is rather impossible to do by hand.
On the Blake stitched shoes, the upper is attached to the sole from the shoe’s inside. While this doesn’t work as water-resistant, a Blake stitch adds more flexibility to the shoe itself. And it’s less expensive.
Like Goodyear welts, shoes with Blake stitched construction can be resoled once the outsole is worn out or damaged. The method is also ideal when looking for a close-cut sole. The method does not involve external stitches, so the body of the outsole can be cut extremely close to the upper.
Goodyear Welt vs Blake Stitch
These two shoe construction methods are just a few of many. There are plenty of other methods to go about sewing shoes to the outsoles- though when it comes to high-end footwear, the Goodyear welt is mostly contrasted with the Blake stitch.
The first part of Goodyear welting is preparing the insole for stitching, which is done by creating a vertical rib that runs across the insole. Some manufacturers may create the rib by cutting and forming the insole, while others will do so using a supplementary material like linen tape.
The next step is to last the shoe. This basically involves stitching the outsole over the last and then attaching it along with the insole to the last. The last part is the actual welting. At this step, a shoe-specific thread is sewn through the welt, the insole rib, and the upper.
The welt is then attached to the outsole through a separate stitch. A lockstitch is used in both stitching points, meaning the chain won’t unravel if it breaks down at any particular point in the boot.
As earlier mentioned, Blake stitching is one of the most common shoe construction methods. It is generally used in Italian shoes, where the upper is sewn directly to the sole to provide a more flexible shoe.
The flexibility is obtained from the fewer layers, which also offers a more discrete welt. Similar to Goodyear welts, Blake stitching is practically done by machine since the stitching is done on the inside of the shoe.
The process is simpler and cheaper compared to Goodyear Welting. However, on the flip side, it is harder to resole the shoe because you’ll need a specific Blake machine.
Blake stitching is also less water-resistant because it allows direct access to the foot from the exterior. It’s not any worse, but it’s pretty delicate footwear.
Goodyear Welt Construction, Pros, and Cons
First, the stitching method makes it really easy to resole a Goodyear welted shoe. The welt acts as a buffer between the insole and the outsole. Thus, removing the old sole and attaching a new one can be done by hand or by machine, but without any specific machine. Moreover, the layers make the shoes more supportive and water-resistant.
As you may have already figured out, Goodyear welted shoes are usually more expensive due to the additional materials and labor required. Also, the extra layers that provide more structure mean you will be sacrificing flexibility.
Blake Welting: Pros and Cons
One impressive thing about Blake stitching is it’s lighter, more comfortable, and offers a more modern look. The upper is wrapped around the insole and sewn between it and the outsole. A single stitch attaches everything together.
Although the actual stitching is hard to do by hand, Blake’s welding allows for resoling once the outsole is done. And with fewer layers than Goodyear welt, blake welted shoes are usually more flexible.
While blake welted shoes can be resoled, the process involves a specific machine to do so, making it much harder and even more expensive than resoling a Goodyear Welted shoe.
Also, the flexibility offered by the fewer layers means that the shoe is less water-resistant. Water can easily wick up through the sole and start to pool real fast. Some users complained about irritation at the bottom of their feet due to the interior stitching.
The Bottom Line
To sum things up, it’s good to state that both methods are meant to serve different purposes, and thus, no one particular method is objectively superior to the other. Most men, however, are best served by one or two pairs of classic, timeless dress shoes made with Goodyear welt construction.
Along with these two pairs, you can supplement your wardrobe with a pair or two of more aggressive, style shoes such as tassel loafer and double monk.
But if you’re considering the shoes as a more trendy item, then go for Blake welt models. Goodyear welt method seems to be the most popular method of English and British last.
Blake stitching, meanwhile, is a perfect method and preferred technique of modern shoe designers. These shoes are relatively cheap, and you may afford to pick a few more casual options with cement sole, for instance.