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Knowledge is Power: The Goodyear Welt

While you’ve been browsing the range of shoes on our website you’ve probably come across the term ‘Goodyear welted sole.’ But what exactly is one? 

Goodyear welting is one of the oldest and most labour-intensive processes in shoe making. The welt itself is a strip of material, often leather but canvas, rubber and plastic are also used, that is secured into place around the perimeter of a shoe’s outsole. This process was traditionally performed by hand until the machine based ‘Goodyear welt’ revolutionised shoe manufacturing in 1869. However, despite the use of a machine, the process is far from automated and still requires a skilled operator to work the device.

The Goodyear welting process can be broken down into four main steps. Firstly, the shoe must be prepared for welting by the creation of a ‘rib’ across its insole. This rib can be created either by adding an additional piece of material to the insole or by cutting and reshaping the insole itself. The uppers of the shoe must then be stretched over and attached to its last, the mold around which a shoe is built. This ensures that the shoe’s shape is retained throughout the welting process. Next, the uppers and insoles of the shoe are attached to the welt using shoe-specific thread. Finally, the shoes outsoles are attached to the welt using a lockstitch to prevent unravelling.

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What are the benefits of a Goodyear welt?  

The main benefit of a Goodyear welted pair of shoes is that they can be repeatedly resoled, prolonging the life of the shoes considerably. Because the welt sits between the insole and outsole it acts a buffer between the two, allowing the outsole to be removed without damaging the rest of the shoe. The process of welting also makes the shoes relatively waterproof and increases their durability. Welted shoes take considerably more time and skill to manufacture than shoes produced by automated machines and are therefore valued for their craftsmanship and high levels of quality.  

About the Inventor 

The Goodyear welt is named after its creator, Charles Goodyear Jr., who was born in 1833. Charles Goodyear Jr. was the son of Charles Goodyear, the man who invented the process of vulcanising rubber in 1844. Goodyear Jr. clearly inherited his father’s inventing abilities and developed the machinery used in the Goodyear welting process in 1869.

Last Note

If you’re a fan of fine footwear, it’s highly likely that you already have at least one pair of Goodyear welted shoes in your collection. But if not, why not treat yourself to a pair today and see what all the fuss is about for yourself? Trust us, your feet will thank you for it!

Copy by Tom Mankin

Image provided by Tricker's Shoes.



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