Most of today's manufacturers of quality shoes use different construction techniques to assemble and stitch their shoes, some of them inherited from the 19th century. They involve various levels of complexity, and of course achieve different degrees of comfort and durability. We explain here the construction techniques that use to craft our shoes.
The Goodyear Welt Construction
The Goodyear welt is one of the finest construction techniques available, requiring skilled craftsmen and time. It produces shoes that are highly durable, very comfortable, waterproof and that can be resoled, making them a very safe investment for any shoe lover.
With this technique, the shoe upper and its lining are sewn to a leather welt, which is then sewn to the outsoles. This way, there is no stitch piercing the shoes directly from the outside to the inside. The use of a welt also creates a gap between the insoles and the outsoles, which is filled with cork. That inner filling creates a strong resistance to water, and also provides a soft and malleable layer that will progressively take the shape of the wearer's foot and greatly increase his comfort.
The Blake Construction
One of the most used techniques in the dress shoe industry, the Blake construction has the insole and the outsole sewn together directly with the shoe upper sandwiched between them. Without as many sole layers as the Goodyear construction, the Blake results in thinner, sleeker and more flexible shoes, but also more vulnerable to humidity. Moreover, resoling is not possible with this type of shoe construction. Involving much less operations, Blake shoes are also cheaper.
The Blake Rapid Construction
A mix of the Blake and Goodyear constructions, the Blake Rapid involves a midsole to which is stitched the outsole from the outside and the insole from the inside. This way, Blake Rapid shoes are more durable and waterproof than regular Blake shoes.
The Bologna Construction
The Bologna, sometimes called sacchetto, is a typical Italian construction techniques, focused on producing very elegant and sophisticated shoes with a great level of comfort.
With this technique, the shoe upper and its lining are completely rolled into a tube, which is then directly stitched to the outsole. Therefore, the foot doesn't get into contact with the sole, but only with the leather of the shoe upper. The stitch is also positioned at the very edge of the shoe - where the foot won't feel it, and give the sole a curved aspect which is typical of Bologna shoes. If we add the high flexibility of the shoe that this simple construction creates, Bologna shoes are clearly the most comfortable shoes to wear.
However, like any fine item, Bologna shoes are quite delicate due to their thinness and will not appreciate to be worn in the rain.
Such processing has a unique characteristic: it allows to produce a very comfortable shoe in that the sole of the foot rests on a layer of very soft skin. The upper is hand-fitted to the last, then the mocassin is hand-stitched. During this process, the upper is assembled to another piece of leather called “mirror”. Finally the bottom of the shoe is stitched blake.
This process involves the preparation of a leather insole, then mounting the upper on the form with tips and counters in leather. Once the shoe is well-shaped one is about what distinguishes the Norvegian processing. That is, the hand stitching of the upper onto the insole along the entire perimeter of the shape. In a second step sewing by hand the remaining part of the upper appropriately folded back outwards with a first layer of said midsole leather.