The Goodyear Welt and 4 Reasons Why it Matters
by Michael Pelzer
If you are a fan of high quality footwear, you might have heard of the Goodyear welt (GYW). If you haven't heard of it, I don't fault you -- before Adelante I hadn't either. In this post, I will detail the 4 reasons why you should think about choosing a Goodyear welted pair of shoes. But before that, let's talk about what a Goodyear welt actually is.
So what is a Goodyear welt?
First let's start with a welt; which is simply a leather rim sewn around the edge of a shoe upper to which the sole is attached.
Now, here's why all this matters.
1. A Goodyear welt is durable
If you are spending $200+ on a pair of shoes, you probably want them to last awhile, so durability is key. By using a series of lockstitches between the inner sole, the welt, the upper, and the outersole, the GYW creates a durable stitch. More importantly, even if one stitch breaks, or is cut, the rest will not unravel.
You've probably had a pair of shoes where the sole separates from the rest of the shoe. Chances are that this was a result of its construction, namely the upper being simply glued to the (probably rubber) sole of the shoe. The beauty of a GYW is that this won't happen; the entire shoe is stitched together, no questionable adhesives keeping things in place.
Don't get me wrong, you wouldn't want a pair of Goodyear welted running shoes. The difference is that you expect to toss out a pair of runners at the end of a season; you shouldn't expect to do the same with a pair of leather shoes.
2. Goodyear Welted Shoes Are Resoleable
I am sure that for many of you resoling your shoes is not the norm. You buy a pair of shoes, wear them until the sole falls off and then toss them in the trash. It doesn't have to be this way. Fast fashion has conditioned us to purchase low-cost footwear and dispose of them when they fall apart a few months later.
A Goodyear welted pair of shoes, on the other hand, is built to last. Over the first couple of years of owning a pair of GYW shoes, the rubber and leather on the sole of the shoe will begin to wear -- and that's okay. When the wear becomes substantial, you can take them to a cobbler to resole the shoe, adding years of life to your shoes.
3. Goodyear Welted Shoes are More Economical
To be fair, it isn't just Goodyear welted shoes that are more economical, but rather high-quality handmade shoes in general. In a previous post, Julia noted:
"The reality, in fact, is that slow fashion is more economical over time. Investing in fewer, high quality items actually saves us money in the long run because those items last longer. Instead of buying inexpensive things frequently, we can buy better things less often."
Think about it this way: if you buy an $80 pair of dress shoes annually, you are going to drop $800 on shoes over the next decade. If you purchase a high quality pair of handmade, Goodyear welted shoes for $225 that will last you the same amount of time, you can save....well you do the math.
Buying better things less often is not only a far more economical way of consuming...it is also more responsible. Textiles are notoriously difficult to recycle, and the rise of fast fashion has led to a deluge of old products ending up in landfills — almost 11 million tons annually in the US alone. The equation is simple: buy less + buy better = less waste.
4. Goodyear Welted Shoes are Gorgeous!
This one is pretty simple — higher quality goods tend to look better. At the end of the day, you are probably buying a pair of leather shoes because of how they look, not because they protect your feet from the elements. So make the investment and get something that is a noticeable step up.
I think this image speaks for itself:
The Goodyear Welt: In Summary
The choice is pretty simple: get a Goodyear welted pair of shoes. They are more durable, more economical, will last you a lifetime, and are stunners on the looks front. This is why it was a no-brainer for us to use GYW construction on most of our styles; not just on our men's styles but also our women's shoes. By handcrafting incredibly high quality shoes using gold-standard production techniques like the Goodyear welt, we are delivering on the promise of a pair of shoes that will last you a lifetime at a price that won't break the bank.