The two titans of high-end footwear go head-to-head. Discover the difference between Goodyear welt and Blake stitch to see which shoe construction is the right choice for you.
The term Goodyear welt has become synonymous with the highest quality of footwear. For centuries, Goodyear welt has provided the noblest gentlemen with superior footwear and the finest cobblers with an honest living.
But a Goodyear welted shoe isn’t the only option out there. In this article, we explore the key differences between Blake stitch and Goodyear welt to ensure you make a smart footwear investment.
What is a Goodyear welt?
The Goodyear welt is a method of shoe construction, defined by how the upper leather of the shoe or boot is attached to the sole.
First invented by Mr Charles Goodyear Jr in 1871, Goodyear welt has nothing to do with the type or quality of leather, style, the material of sole, or country of origin. It’s based purely on craftsmanship.
What defines a Goodyear welt is the welt itself. Traditionally, the welt is a strip of leather. Although, the welt can technically be a plastic or rubber material. But please, gents, for pity’s sake, expect the highest quality of Goodyear welt shoes to always use a leather welt.
The welt runs along the perimeter of the sole and is sewn to the upper part of the shoe. A second stitch then attaches the welt to the sole. This supports the shoe with extra layers of durability with a buffer and water-resistant seal.
Therefore, the shoe and the sole are separated yet connected by the welt. This crucial feature is what allows the shoe to be resoled multiple times.
Not only does this feature give you a long-lasting quality shoe you can trust, but it also helps curb the threat of ‘fast-fashion’.
What is a Blake stitch?
Blake stitching is done using a ‘single stitching’ method, invented in 1856 by Lyman Reed Blake. This succinct style of stitching, dating back to the industrial revolution, is performed specifically by a Langhorn sewing machine.
Regarding high-end footwear, Blake stitch shoes are often compared to Goodyear welt for their craftmanship and are closely associated with Italian shoes for their sleek appearance.
The upper leather is sewn directly to the sole to make a flexible piece of footwear. Such flexibility of a Blake stitch is due to the shoe having fewer layers and a much more discreet welt.
Like Goodyear welt shoes, the soles of Blake stitch footwear can also be resoled. That said, it’s much more difficult and requires a special Blake stitch machine to do so.
The difference between Goodyear welt and Blake stitch
Now we have a clear definition for each style of shoe, here’s a clear distinction to distinguish one from the other.
Goodyear welt – Using a double stitch method, the lockstitch is run through the upper, insole and welt, before a separate stitch attaches the insole.
Blake stitch – A single stitch is sewn through the outsole and insole of the shoe. This single stitch method creates an elegant, close-cut shoe without any external stitching on show.
Key features of Blake stitch and Goodyear welt shoes
A defining factor that differentiates between these two styles is water resistance. If you haven't guessed, Goodyear welt comes out well on top. So much so, you should avoid wet weather with a Blake stitch shoe.
The Goodyear welt fully utilises the welt within its construction, creating a very tight seal. Not only do the shoes look fancy, but they can also handle an adventure if it starts raining cats and dogs.
You can see why the Italians might opt for the Blake stitch with their Mediterranean climate. But for us Brits, the weather isn’t always our friend.
Verdict: Goodyear welt
Along with the quality of craft, the ability to resole the shoe is what makes Goodyear welt shoes last so long.
They’re easier to resole than the Blake stitch and the latter cannot be resoled as many times, as it requires new holes to be formed on each occasion.
Not only do Goodyear welted footwear produce longevity, but they also help in the fight against climate change, where the footwear industry contributes a shocking 1.4% towards global greenhouse gas emissions.
Verdict: Goodyear welt
A Blake stitch shoe is cheaper compared to Goodyear welt because of the heightened craftsmanship involved with the latter.
However, at the expense of Goodyear welt, you will have a shoe for a lifetime if you look after the leather. While you can still resole a Blake stitch shoe, it’s much more difficult and less reliable.
Verdict: Blake stitch (in the short-term) / Goodyear welt (in the long-term)
Blake stitch is notoriously sleeker and more lightweight than a Goodyear welted shoe. Due to a Goodyear welt being more heavily constructed by incorporating multiple layers, it’s inevitably heavier and moves less with the foot than a Blake stitch.
Verdict: Blake stitch
Blake stitch vs Goodyear welt: The verdict
We believe both stylistically hold their own. So, any winner of the beauty contest is in the eyes of the beholder.
However, if you want a pair of shoes that can genuinely last a lifetime and stay sturdy and fashionable in any condition, then do yourself a favour and choose Goodyear welted footwear.
At Percy Stride, we’ve been providing the very best Goodyear welted constructed shoes since 2016. By collaborating with the finest patternmakers, leather merchants and cobblers in the world, we're able to supply our clients with the very highest quality footwear.
Visit our store to gaze your eyes over our wide selection of Goodyear welted shoes and boots, fit for any occasion.