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Things to know about welted shoes

If you value high-quality footwear, you can't avoid welted shoes. But what exactly is this type of shoe? How do you recognize welted shoes, how long can expect to enjoy them and what needs to be considered when buying and maintaining them? We address these and other questions on this page so that by the time you finish reading you will feel like a true shoe connoisseur, feel more confident before you buy your next shoe and know exactly what you should pay attention to.

How do you recognize welted shoes?

A decisive aspect for the quality of a shoe is the way the upper is connected to the innersole. If these two parts are sewn together, one speaks of welted shoes. These differ significantly from cheap shoes whose uppers and soles are only glued together. Sewn-welted shoes bring with them a much more comfortable fit. But there are other advantages: Sewn shoes are much more durable and can be repaired by a specialist if necessary, while inferior versions quickly end up in the rubbish bin after a few months or even weeks of intensive wear. However, caution is also required with the supposedly welted shoes. There are certainly imitations that are manufactured particularly cheaply, since inferior or completely unsuitable materials are used. In some cases, customers are deliberately deceived. This is often done in the form of a decorative seam that only gives the impression that it is a sewn Goodyear welted model. In reality, however, these shoes are glued.

How are welted shoes made and what exactly is Goodyear welted?

The often higher price of welted shoes compared to glued shoes is not only due to the significantly better wearing comfort and the longer lifespan, but also has to do with the complex manufacturing process. The upper and lower parts of the shoe are finally sewn by hand by trained specialists. There are also welted shoes that are machine-sewn. This method of shoe construction is then called “Goodyear welted”. This name goes back to the method patented by Charles Goodyear in 1872, which has become the most frequently used method in the machine sewing of shoes.

How long do Goodyear welted shoes last?

There are several factors that play a role in the durability of goodyear welted shoes. First of all, the material used should be mentioned here. Only first-class leather should be used and processed professionally. The leather is usually prepared in the tannery before the shoe is made. It is important to know that in addition to the upper and inner-lining leather, the insole and outsole should also be made of leather for a high-quality sewn shoe. However, there are of course also considerable differences in the quality of the leather itself. The material used should be firm and at the same time supple and breathable. Box calf (calfskin) and bovine (cowhide) are particularly common types of leather, and Cordovan (horse) or Chevreau (goat) are also used less frequently.

How do you care for Goodyear welted men's shoes?

Even after your purchase, you can do a lot to increase the lifespan of your high-quality shoes – mainly with the right care. This begins with the way you put on of the shoe and extends to the treatment of the leather with appropriate care products. We have summarized some of the most important tips for correct shoe care:

  • Use a shoehorn when putting on and taking off your shoes.
  • Use shoe trees when storing your welted shoes.
  • Give your shoes regular breaks, we recommend 48 hours.
  • Care for your shoes with appropriate cleaning and care products (see below).

Step 1: Cleaning

Basically, the proper care of Goodyear welted shoes can be divided into three phases. In the first step, they should be cleaned. This may sound banal at first - but there are a few things to consider. Use a good dirt brush for cleaning. This is usually a little rougher and is therefore ideal for removing dust, dirt, clay or other residues. If the dirt is particularly stubborn, the brush can be moistened with water. However, the following applies: "Less is more". Do not use too much water and under no circumstances wash your valuable leather shoes in the washing machine. Things are different again with suede shoes, for which there are special brushes.

Another tip:

If your shoes get very wet, stuffing them with newspaper before cleaning can help, which removes some moisture from the leather. However, never put the shoes on the heater, as this quickly breaks the leather. This would drastically shorten the lifespan of your Goodyear welted shoes.

Step 2: Nourish and impregnate for long-lasting protection

After you have carefully removed dust and dirt from your shoes, another brush is used to apply shoe cream. It is important to make sure that you choose the right colour shade - to match your shoes - and that you do not use the same brush with several shades. A distinction must be made between shoe cream and shoe wax. The former ensures that the leather remains supple and retains its colour or changes slightly if desired. Shoe wax, on the other hand, does not penetrate the leather, but forms a protective layer that keeps moisture and dirt out. In addition, it is advisable to treat the shoe sole - if it is made of leather - with a leather sole oil every few months.

Step 3: Polishing

To bring the professional care of your Goodyear welted men's shoes to a proper conclusion, use a soft cleaning cloth and a shining brush so that your favorite pairs shine again like on the first day out of the box.

Practical tip: Shoe care sets
If you want to avoid searching for the different brushes, cloths, care products and other items that are part of proper shoe care, you are well advised to buy a shoe care set. These are often stowed in a classic shoe valet box and contain everything that is necessary for the proper treatment of high-quality leather shoes.

What should be considered when buying Goodyear welted shoes?

In our previous treatise on Goodyear welted shoes, we have already touched on many points that you should consider when buying the right shoe. We have summarized these and other decisive features and questions in a clear manner in the following list:

  • Are they real welted shoes or are they only provided with decorative stitching?
  • What leather are the shoes made of? Is it of high quality enough to enable a long lifespan?
  • Is the sole made of leather or is it a rubber sole?

There is another important aspect to these points that should be taken into account when buying Goodyear welted men's shoes - and that is their fit. Handmade shoes are made on a last (a shoe last is a 3-dimensional wooden mold upon which a shoe is constructed). This has a significant influence on whether the shoe has a narrow or wide shape and thus whether it is more suitable for narrow or wide feet. There are very serious differences here, which is why we strongly advise you to try out your new shoe before buying them. At the very least, you should make sure that you can return the shoes free of charge after buying them online if they don't fit.

What should be considered with shoe trees?

As described above, you should make sure that your Goodyear welted shoe has the right fit. In order to keep it that way for a long time, it is advisable to use a shoe tree. We recommend wooden shoe trees, as they are better able to absorb moisture from the shoe than plastic. Ideally, these should be inserted immediately after taking off the shoes. The advantage: If a shoe tree is used regularly, your shoes keep their fit and craeses are effectively prevented. In addition, shoe trees made of wood - for example of red cedar - have a pleasant side effect: The oil contained in the wood exudes a pleasant natural fragrance.

Derby or Oxford - what's the difference?

The absolute classics among the shoe models include the Derby on one side and the Oxford on the other. Both make an ideal business shoe. But how do they differ from each other? To spot the difference, you have to take a closer look at a certain part of the shoe - the lacing – specifically whether or not the laces are opened or closed from the vamp (front part) of the shoe. If there is a seamless piece of leather from the top of the tongue to the front of the shoe you have a Derby. The Derby has an open lacing system in form of two quarters (the side tabs) that are sewn on to the vamp. On these quarters the shoelace eyelet facings are punctured. In comparison, the Oxford features a “closed lacing” system in which the quarters, where the shoelace eyelets are punctured, are sewn closed under the the vamp.

We answer your questions

We hope that the information you get here about Goodyear welted shoes will make you feel well positioned when you decide to buy from our online shop. If you have any questions about high-quality leather men's shoes in general or about the extensive range at Langer & Messer, our experienced team is at your disposal - we look forward to hearing from you!