Goodyear Welted Construction: The Makings of a Great Shoe
Hartt prides itself on crafting high-quality, traditional shoes. That’s why we insist on making them with sleek 270 Goodyear welt construction. But, what does that mean exactly?
What Is Goodyear Welting?
Goodyear welting is probably the most sophisticated, long-lasting and intelligent way of building a shoe ever invented. It’s a very detailed process that attaches the sole of the shoe to the upper part of the shoe.
First, a small strip of premium leather is sewn by machine from the bottom of the shoe up into its interior, then back out and around the perimeter of the shoe. The space enclosed by the welt is then filled with a cork material. Once the welt has been attached, another machine stitches the sole onto the shoe from around the outside. That’s the telltale sign of a Goodyear welted shoe: if you look where the top of the sole meets the upper side, you'll often see stitching all the way around.
The History of Goodyear Welted Shoes
The machinery used for Goodyear welting was developed in 1869. Prior to this invention, many people would make an appointment so their feet could be measured before a cobbler hand-stitched their shoes. The process was long and arduous, involving leather knives, needles and thread—and often blood, sweat, and tears.
Charles Goodyear Jr.’s invention revolutionized footwear forever, transforming what was once a manual process into something more efficient with a more reliable and quality product. Innovation ran in the family: Charles Goodyear Jr.’s father developed vulcanized rubber, a chemical process used to harden rubber. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the world’s largest rubber business, named their business in his honour.
Beware of Imposters
Many dress shoe manufacturers and cheap imports try to mimic Goodyear welt. Even some high-end, trusted shoe brands will try to fake the Goodyear welt using a plastic sole stitch that's completely fake. Some use cement construction, meaning it's just glued together. Don’t be fooled. If it’s a real Goodyear welt, the stitching appears on the bottom of the shoe and goes all the way through to the top near the edge of the sole.
High-end Goodyear welt shoes are more expensive, but you get what you pay for. Nowadays, you’re lucky if you get a full season out of most shoes. Some shoes look great on the shelf, but they wear out quickly. There’s something rough and real about a leather sole that’s much better than shoes made with synthetic materials and shoddy craftsmanship.
With Hartt Goodyear welted shoes and proper care, you can buy them once and you have them for your entire career. They actually get more and more beautiful over the years as the patina develops and the leather is worked in.
What Makes Goodyear Welted Shoes Superior to Other Shoes?
Hartt customers are savvy consumers, yet they’re always amazed at how long our shoes stand the test of time. People tell us they got married in the shoes 30 years ago, and they’re still going strong. Others report having the same pair of shoes for more than 50 years [Read Derek Oland Shoe Guys story]. A big part of this is thanks to the Goodyear welt.
Goodyear-welted shoes are made using the finest and most durable shoe construction method. Because of this, they’re relatively waterproof, minimizing water penetration into the insole. The way the shoes are stitched together essentially means they will never come undone. The sole should never detach and, if ever does, we replace it, no questions asked. The ability for the shoe to be re-soled extends its life expectancy significantly.
Hartt’s Goodyear-welted Shoes
People who wear Hartt’s Goodyear-welted shoes demonstrate that they understand and appreciate the value of a high-end shoe. The Hartt brand champions a return to investing in high-quality products that stand the test of time. Our fathers and grandfathers were stylish and valued their shoe wardrobe, shining their shoes the old-fashioned way. They valued their appearance in a way modern society has almost lost.
Attention to detail and appreciation for your appearance are quiet signs of respect for the work you do and the people you engage with. If you take the time to make sure you are put together from head to toe, it shows integrity. It shows class, style, and character—all very important things to portray as you move through your career. You can count on the Goodyear-welt to be with you every step of the way.