Blake vs Goodyear
A stitch in time saves nine. And amongst cobblers, how the stitch is stitched could not be of more importance and it is arguably the defining point of a good quality pair of shoes. I am of course, referring to the age-old argument of the advantages of Goodyear welt vs the Blake method. At Undandy we believe in enriching both your mind and your sole, so, let’s delve into the different types of stitch construction or welt that your soles are attached along with the advantages and disadvantages of each type of construction.
Most modestly made shoes don’t have welts, and instead the sole is simply cemented directly onto the bottom of the shoe upper. Apart from sounding fairly inelegant, the issue with shoes made in this modern way is that the soles cannot be replaced once they done their duty. It’s simply game over. The two titan methods of stitching and the sign of a good quality shoe are Goodyear and Blake. But what defines the two, and which is the better quality? As with most things, the answer is complicated. Goodyear welting is traditionally known as being the accompaniment of top quality of handcrafted shoes. Used by the majority of Northampton cobbling institutions, the Goodyear welt machine was invented by Charles Goodyear Jnr in 1869. As well as the upper being folder between the insole and outsole, a leather welt is placed on the edge of the outside sole along with a vertical rib on the bottom side of the insole, which runs parallel to the outside sole. Once the upper is put in between the soles, sitting in between the rib and the leather welt, and stitched all the way through the layers.
The final step is the visible stitch through the welt and the bottom sole which gives the Goodyear its trademark look that can be seen a mile off by shoe connoisseur. As the Goodyear calls for more layers and it a more strenuous construction, the cost of these shoes goes up substantially, but the initial cost is outweighed by the fact that due to the heavy duty of the sole stitching, the soles last longer and can be re-soled easily time and time again. However, the shoe loses its flexibility with the layers and sturdy construction. Of course, stylistically they are truly authentic in a dress shoe, but do lack the grace of a Blake stitched sole which is more lightweight. The silhouette of the Goodyear lends itself well to the English city look, and weather, being the most waterproof sole!
Each pair of Undandy shoes are stitched using the Blake construction, now recognisably a far more European look, which was invented in 1856 by Lyman Reed Blake. This particular type of stitching is undeniably linked to the industrial revolution as the particular stitching used in the Blake method cannot be done by hand and uses a Langhorn sewing machine. This facilitates sewing all of the layers without using welts, stitching through the outsole, insole and bottom of the shaft of the shoe.
This particular method has become synonymous with Italian shoemaking, and who wants to argue with Italians when it comes to style? Shoes that have been Blake stitched are characteristically close cut, as there are no external stitches, the outsole can nestle tightly to the upper, making the shoe less rigid and large. Goodyear welting has several layers to build up the tough exterior, and as Blake has less layers, this allows for the sole to be more flexible, which is a plus when seeking both style and comfort. As a result Blake stitched soles are infinitely easier to wear in quicker than a Goodyear welt. Esteemed menswear fashion houses such as Berluti prefer the Blake method over the Goodyear because the feel of a Blake stitched sole is much more elegant, flexible and lightweight, in keeping with the sophisticated feel of Italian tailoring.
As the Blake method has a far simpler construction with a single stitch than that of a Goodyear welt, this also directly affects the price point of Blake stitched shoes compared to their Goodyear brothers. The Blake also allows for resoling once the outer sole has seen the best of pounding the pavement and inclement weather but is less hardy than the Goodyear and these types of Blake stitched shoes should be avoided when wet weather is forecasted!
Dear gents, now the two sides of Blake and Goodyear have fought their corners, you can now make a more informed decision when it comes to your sole. And you never know when you’ll be able to ‘shoe-up’ someone with your extensive cobbling vocabulary. Ultimately, both types of construction are well worthy additions to your shoe wardrobe, both having unique advantages against the other. In all honesty, it’s an impossible choice, like trying to decide between Patek or Rolex, Natalie Portman and Penelope Cruz, a Maserati or a Ferrari? Why on earth should one decide?!
Find out more about how your Undandy shoes are crafted here.