In the market for a new pair of shoes or boots? Before handing over your hard-earned cash, first, take a moment to consider if the shoes’ construction is right for you.
Think of your favorite pair of shoes. How are they constructed — are they Blake-stitched, cemented, or maybe Goodyear welted?
While these terms may sound foreign to you, it doesn’t take long to understand the basic shoe construction methods, and with this knowledge, you can better understand your footwear preferences.
Being able to identify quality constructed shoes will also help you make informed future purchases so you can be confident that you’re buying exactly what you’re looking for.
Types of Shoe Construction
While there are many types of shoe construction methods, cemented, Blake-stitched, stitch-down, and Goodyear welted are what you’ll come across most commonly.
Cemented shoes have a sole that’s simply glued into place. Typically, footwear that’s cemented can’t be resoled. Consequently, they won’t last as long as resolable, repairable shoes.
In Blake-stitched shoes, a leather upper is directly attached to the outsole with thread.
Blake-stitched shoes will have stitching that’s not as close to the edge of the sole as Goodyear-welted shoes.
Additionally, you can see the stitching on the inside of Blake-stiched shoes (though you might have to pull back the upper insole layer).
This type of construction, while allowing for a sleek shoe profile, can sometimes allow water to enter the inside of the shoe.
Additionally, it’s more difficult to resole Blake-stitched shoes than Goodyear welted ones. Depending on the shoes, it might be possible, but not all cobblers will have the skill and equipment required.
In Stitchdown-constructed boots (this method isn’t commonly used for shoes), on the other hand, the upper is turned outwards before being sewn to the outsole.
This creates a ridge that kind of looks like a welt but is easily distinguished because you’ll be able to easily see where the upper meets the sole.
This very old construction method helps to keep out water, but can be costly to execute. Additionally, repairs may be difficult if the leather on the upper gets damaged.
Learn more about stitchdown construction here.
The Goodyear welt method is the gold standard when it comes to shoe construction. While, as mentioned, the best type of construction depends on your needs and the shoe type, the Goodyear welt is very versatile.
In this case, the shoe’s outsole is sewn onto a leather strip, called a welt. This method makes it easy to replace worn-out soles (relatively speaking) and is pretty good at keeping out the elements.
A Goodyear welt, which can be expensive to make, is common in quality boots and dress shoes.
Other Types of Shoe Construction
There are many other types of shoe construction — some being variations of the methods I’ve already covered.
Look Out For Fakes!
Beware that some brands create a false welt on their shoes or boots, mimicking the appearance of higher-quality Goodyear welted shoes but without any of the benefits.
One trick to discern a false welt is to check if you can see stitching on the sole of the shoe and, if so, if the stitching lines up with the thread on the top side of the supposed welt.
You can do this by measuring stitches per inch on the top and bottom of the shoe.
Check out this video for a bunch of examples of fake stitching and welts:
Which Type of Construction Is Best for You?
How a shoe is constructed is just one factor to consider when contemplating a purchase. The quality of materials used, brand reputation, and your intended use for the shoes are a few other important considerations.
Also, while some people love taking care of their footwear and getting them repaired when necessary, other people are happy to buy cheaper shoes and throw them away when they start to get worn.
That way, they can try out a wide variety of shoe styles. I, for one, am partial to the former approach (for one thing, it’s less wasteful).
Generally, Goodyear, Stitchdown, or Blake-stitched construction are all great options for dress shoes and quality leather boots.
Cemented construction, on the other hand, is what you’d expect in athletic
Now that you’re acquainted with a few of the most common shoe construction methods you’re ready to make informed decisions the next time you’re shopping for new kicks!
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!