What is a welt?

A seemingly unimportant question, but a welt is a big deal in the world of quality shoes and boots.

Our photos show where a welt can be found in many of the shoes and boots we stock. In layman’s terms, it is a leather strip that is sewn around the edge of a shoe-upper to which the sole is attached.

Hardly headline news, but the welt’s existence makes all the difference when ensuring a shoe has longevity and can be efficiently repaired.

To give you a little historical perspective…the welt process we know today was invented in 1869 by Charles Goodyear Jr. He was the son of Charles Goodyear, the inventor of the chemical process to create and manufacture pliable, waterproof, mouldable rubber. The two Charleses has tyres and footwear all sewn up!

What made the Goodyear welt stand out was that it was a machine-based alternative to very labour intensive hand-stitching. They are clever chaps those Goodyears!

This is how a welted shoe is made. The upper part of the shoe is shaped over the last and then the welt strip is sewn to the upper.

Then in a separate operation, the sole is stitched to the same welt strip which holds the material firmly together. The space created by the welt between the upper and the sole is usually filled with cork, which is malleable and comfortable underfoot. The finished result is a largely waterproof shoe. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the pale stitch linking the welt to the insole of the upper and the dark stitch which links the welt to the sole.

It is true that welted shoes are more expensive to manufacture than other production methods, but they are relatively simple to repair which greatly enhances their value. The welt is the buffer between the upper and the sole meaning that the sole can be cut off and then a new one attached without damaging the upper.

All Goodyear welted Herring Shoes can be repaired by a competent cobbler. We offer an enhanced repair service on styles that have the logo below next to them, this logo means that they can be sent back to the original manufacturer to be re-soled while retaining the comfort of your worn-in upper. Factory repair is the gold standard.

Among our popular Goodyear welted shoes and boots are the Fencote two-tone brogues, the Blair II double monk shoes, the Soho Chelsea boots and many more. Simply type ‘Goodyear’ into the search facility or click this Goodyear welted styles link and it will take you to a full list so you can discover the wonders of welts!

Chris Clark

Author: Chris Clark

Chris is the Customer Service Lead at Herring Shoes. With over 10 years experience in the shoe trade, his expert knowledge is second to none.