Saturday, December 11, 2010

Know Your Welts

In this era of blogs, bloggers and bloggers who blog about blogs there is no excuse for being an uneducated consumer.  The plethora of information available online is indeed staggering, but with so much knowledge at our disposal one would think that many of us would be at the top of our game.  Ironically enough, I believe there is a misconception when it comes to shoe construction - that is, if a shoe is not Goodyear welted it is a piece of shit.  This could not be further from the truth and, while a Goodyear welted shoe is something to look for in an expensive shoe purchase, let us not forget about the other methods used in making high quality shoes.  With that being said, I'd like to briefly talk about Blake construction.

Ducal shoes sums up Blake construction as such:

"In the Blake construction the last is removed from the shoe; and the welt, the sole, the insole and the upper are sewn together using a single seam.  The last in reintroduced and the workmanship continues with milling, grinding and dying of the soles and heels.  The final result is an extremely comfortable and light shoe."

As with any construction, Goodyear and Blake alike, the quality of the construction depends on the factory producing the shoes.  At the end of the day, you cannot tell how good a shoe's quality may or may not be solely based on the welt alone.  All of that aside, I'd like to dispel any rumors or misconceptions that Goodyear welts are the be all end all when it comes to shoe construction.  A high quality Blake constructed shoe will often be sleeker than it's Goodyear welted counterpart due to the simple fact that its stitching is of the interior variety, whereas a Goodyear welted shoe's stitching is visible on the outside of the shoe.  It is my personal opinion that Blake construction improves the looks of more "formal" shoes, such as shortwings and double monks.  Please refer to the incredibly nerdy diagrams below for more information.

Goodyear:

Blake:


[Diagrams courtesy of La Botte Web.]

-L.A.S 

25 comments:

  1. Informative information is indeed what we need to become sartorially educated.

    Thanks for this post, including the 'incredibly nerdy diagrams'.

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  2. I am no shoe expert. I'd like to hear a shoe expert's take, but since all I have at hand is a master at cutting and pasting the most pretentious and overwrought encomiums to trivial "sartorial" minutiae, I'll put the question to you: where is the welt in the diagram of the Blake "welted" shoe? And is it a coincidence that, Googling "blake welt", this blog post is already the third result behind your source? Some "facts" may be little-known for a reason.

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  3. Anon 11:52- Please, don't take my word for it because obviously you think I am an idiot/asshole.

    Read this:

    http://the-last-shall-be-first.blogspot.com/2007/12/shoe-construction-blake.html

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  4. SO FUCKING BORING. I BUY SHIT CAUSE IT'S CRISPY NIGGA.

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  5. McDonald's chicken nuggets are crispy. Sometimes it's best to learn a little about a product if you expect it to last for decades. Ironically, Mcnuggets may live as long as a pair of John Lobbs with all those preservatives they inject into them...

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  6. If by your word you specifically mean the word "welt", then I won't. QED. Blake constructed shoes do not have a welt. Know thyself your welts.

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  7. Anon @12:38- Arguing over semantics, especially when it comes to clothes/shoes/etc., is pointless. Referring to "Blake construction" as a "Black welt" is not unheard of.

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  8. Its incorrect, wherever it is heard. There is no welt. To call it a "Blake Welt" is to perpetrate a misnomer for the sake of drawing a false equivelance to the better reputed Goodyear welt. If you were in the business of selling shoes, that kind of weasel wording may serve a purpose. Otherwise, and especially if you hope to impart knowledge about a subject, its not merely a semantic distinction. Its the difference between understanding the material and parroting lingo.

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  9. Anon @1:00- Post updated so we can all be friends again.

    And "better reputed" is completely subjective.

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  10. Anon @1:00- Also, you asked to hear a "shoe expert's take". Ducal's description above mentions the phantom welt you are questioning....

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  11. "Better reputed" is indeed subjective (hence "reputed"). It is certainly worth knowing the difference, and why one type of construction may be preferable over another. Thus, examinations of terms (a.k.a. "semantics") are useful when most "information" is simply a collection of buzzwords that give context and variety the short shrift. That goes for anyone who cares about the topic and not just pedantic anonymous dweebs like myself.

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  12. Anon- Dude, your passive aggressive and subsequent self loathing comments are keeping things interesting over here. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  13. I'd be willing to bet that this anon is beyond boring in real life since he gets his kicks out of arguing about the semantics of shoe construction. GET A LIFE.

    PS: if you're going to use words like "encomiums" at least use the correct form of "it's".

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  14. I was just looking at those same images within the past couple weeks!

    Despite the hilariously terrible music, these are some kind of neat videos of people using shoe manufacturing equipment: http://www.youtube.com/user/goodyearwelted

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  15. "PS: if you're going to use words like "encomiums" at least use the correct form of "it's". "

    Someone knows how to keep things interesting!

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  16. L.A.S. - This thread is a perfect example of why you should consider an end to the unconvincing voice of authority that you post with. Vouching for the fit and finish of garments that you have never seen in person, parroting incorrect info -- it all becomes a huge distraction.

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  17. ^^Exactly. Lawrence is such a goon. This blog wouldn't even exist if Lawrence actually did work at his day job.

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  18. Blake or Blake/Rapid stitching have a place in the shoe world. But there are other ways to get sleekness. A nailed sole, as some of the Central European cobblers (notably Georg Materna) use, and as RM Williams uses on some of their boots, is one such option. But in general I think a good rule of thumb is:
    -Goodyear or nailed sole for dress shoes and boots
    -Goodyear or Blake/Rapid for loafers
    -Goodyear or Norwegian for casual shoes, such as split-toe derbies
    -Norwegian or storm welting for inclement weather shoes/boots.

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  19. Anon @12:36- You criticism is duly noted, but know that in this case I actually own a pair of Blake constructed shoes and thanks to the shoe buys I have been a part of with Run of The Mill I have been hands on with a large variety of shoe construction/welts.

    Joe- Couldn't agree more.

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  20. This stuff is cool, if you're going to spend 500+ on a pair of shoes or $1500+ on suit you should know why you're paying up and the engineering/construction is a large part of that.

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  21. The Blake stitching on the insole tends to irritate my toes if I am doing a lot of walking. This may be because the two pairs of Blake constructed shoes I own are relatively low end. But it has lead me to prefer Goodyear welted shoes on the whole.

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  22. The Goodyear construction shown in the diagram is not one. It shows a leather holdfast, ans so represents a hand sewn construction. A diagram of a GY welt should show the tissue strip, glued (gemming) characteristic of this mechanized technique.

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