Goodyear Welt: The Easy Standard

For many people, “Goodyear Welt” is synonymous with a well-constructed shoe. Since 1869, the Goodyear welt has offered an easily resoleable option for footwear of all kinds. For most people, when thinking of a well known higher-end shoe brand, it’s probably a com that uses Goodyear welts.

Of course, construction of a shoe is only one part of what makes a quality product. Materials – either of the shoe itself or in the Goodyear construction – can be low or high quality. There are plenty of Goodyear welt shoes that have an upper or welt that won’t make it to the first resole.

How It’s Made

Goodyear Welt

Goodyear welt construction starts with taking the upper and attaching what’s known as a welt along the bottom edge. The welt is a thin strip of material – typically leather, but it can be made of plastic, rubber, or other flexible materials – that can be seen when looking down at the shoe from above. This welt is stitched to an outsole (glued on before stitching). Generally, this means that the stitching on the bottom of a Goodyear welt shoe (if visible) will be close to the edge of the shoe.

During a typical resoling of a Goodyear welted shoe, the cobbler will remove the outsole and leave the welt attached. With the welt open, a new outsole can now be sewn onto the welt, preserving the leather on the upper of the shoe. The limiting factor in the number of resoles is based on how many times the welt can be sewn through. A bad cobbler can mangle a welt in just a single resole, while a good cobbler can resole on a welt 4 or more times.

This also shows the importance of using high quality materials in construction. Some of the cheaper Goodyear welted shoes will use a plastic or even canvas welt. These materials will often crack with wear, and can rip or tear during a resole, defeating much of the purpose of buying welted footwear. While a welt can be replaced, it is far more labor intensive and will often cost as much as a new pair of mid-tier shoes.


Types of Goodyear welts

Goodyear welts typically come in either “360 degree” or “270 degree” style. In a “360” style, the welt runs the entire length of the upper, encircling the shoe. This provides a chunkier look, and gives a bit more protection from water entering at the heel. For particularly wide 360-degree welts, they can be noticeable when wearing, with the heel striking a bit sooner than in other shoes. Some may find this initially uncomfortable, but most will quickly adjust.

The Rear of a 360-Degree Welt (Alden LHS)

“270” welts only run along the mid and forefoot of the shoe, ending near the front of the heel. In this style, the rear of the shoe is typically left open, with only nails holding the leather down. While not as good for weather resistance, the 270 style provides a tighter heel section that can either be used to create a slimmer style or emphasize the welt up front.

A 270-Degree Welt (Alden Indy 405)

Benefits of Goodyear Welt Construction

This type of construction didn’t gain a reputation for being the main construction for high end footwear for no reason, and there are many benefits.

Easy Resoleability

One of the key benefits of a Goodyear welted shoe is the resoleability. Not just that Goodyear welting will typically allow for more resoles on a given pair, but also because just about any shoe store will have the tools to do so. Unlike Blake stich, Stitchdown, or other construction types, every major city is likely to have a dozen or more locations that can resole the shoe. With this, resoles are generally quicker and more affordable when it comes time.


Due to the way these shoes are constructed, a void is created in the midsole of the shoe. For almost every manufacturer, this void is typically filled with a material that will create an imprint of your foot. Most use cork, but others will use soft leather, poron, or other materials. This gives you a 1 to 1 mold of your foot over time, and increases the comfort of the pair once broken in.

Weather Resistance

With no stitching running from the exterior of the shoe to the interior, Goodyear welted shoes offer much greater water resistance than some other forms of construction. Especially in 360-degree form, a Goodyear welted shoe can take pretty severe weather and keep feet dry. Assuming the rest of the materials are up to the task, of course.

Many People’s First Goodyear Welted Shoe – The Allen Edmonds Park Ave

Drawbacks of Goodyear Welt Construction

While the benefits are clear, the Goodyear welt isn’t perfect. It has several notable drawbacks that are worth mentioning.


While there might ultimately be a cost saving for someone who goes through multiple resoles, initial purchase price of a Goodyear welted shoe will be more expensive than some of the other construction methods, assuming materials are equal. Goodyear welting requires additional materials, time, and machinery at the factory constructing the shoes. The cost of these will need to be passed onto the buyer in order for the company to remain afloat.

Thick Design

By definition, this type of construction requires the use of a welt along the edge of the shoe. While many manufacturers try to keep this as thin as possible, a Blake stitched shoe will always be able to get a tighter design than a Goodyear welted shoe. At least, assuming the manufacturer wants to have that style. For someone looking for a slim style or simple looking shoe, a Goodyear welt might not be the best option.

Marketers using “Goodyear welt” to confuse buyers

In many ways, Goodyear welting has almost become too successful. With many new buyers assuming it automatically equals a quality shoe, there have been countless brands that use cheap materials but heavily advertise the construction as a way to trick consumers into buying lower-quality options.


Companies that use Goodyear Welt

With this type of construction being the standard, it’d be impossible to list everyone. That being said, here are a few notable examples:

When Should You Pick a Goodyear Welted Shoe?

If you don’t have a particular reason not to (such as the workwear look of Stitchdown or the sleekness of Blake), going Goodyear welt should be a fairly easy decision. While not the most affordable option for the initial purchase, a Goodyear welted shoe will provide easy resolability. It may ultimately cost the least in the long term. At least, assuming you’re going to wear the shoe enough to get a few resoles from them.

While its ubiquity has caused some to ignore the benefits of other construction types, it’s hard to argue against Goodyear welting earning its crown at the top.