blake-constr1
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with Blake-construction shoes (the method used on all traditional Italian models). They are just more delicate and will not last as long as Goodyear-welted shoes.

The same could be said about suits made from super-180s wool or even super-150s. They are lighter, more delicate and possibly more elegant. But they will not last as long as an English tweed suit.

I have explained in depth previously what Blake construction is (see posting here). But in brief, the shoe’s upper is folded over at the edge and sewn directly onto the sole. With Goodyear-welted shoes the upper is sewn onto a new ridge of leather, before attaching that to the sole. Most English shoes and their American heirs use Goodyear welts. They make the shoe harder wearing and tougher. They also make it easier and quicker to resole.

The advantage of Blake construction is that the sole can be cut a lot closer to the upper, leaving less of a lip and making the shoe sleeker. The width of a sole around the upper varies among Goodyear-welted shoes, but none are quite as thin as Blake models.

Blake shoes get a lot of stick on style forums. The biggest reason is that they are not as long-lasting as Goodyear – but this is the case for lots of different types of clothing, from silk socks to summer suits. As Nathan Brown at London shoemaker Lodger comments:

“If you go and buy a lightweight suit from Kiton it’s not going to last as long as a Huntsman shooting jacket – those things last for centuries. But that doesn’t mean the Italian suit isn’t beautiful and it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the money.”

In my opinion, the problem is that style forums can really only discuss practical matters. They are great for recommendations on tailors, news about discounts and explorations of sartorial history. But you can’t discuss taste. It is subjective. A full English brogue on the Tricker’s model is very ugly to some; to others, a pointy Italian slip-on is the height of crass. Neither is right or wrong.

So forum discussions of shoes tend to focus on the quality of construction. They swap experiences on longevity and value for money. On those grounds, Goodyear-welted shoes will usually win. In fact, what you want is a cordovan boot with a triple sole – it’ll last a lifetime.

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Frans Boone

a very well written post, i agree !

Ike

I agree with your final comments. Yet I’m submitting the need to have shoes of different construction and different design style for the right occasion.

Delirious Darren

great post

i could definitely go for some well-designed triple-soled cordovan boots though; one could do worse for a go-to option.

Brian

good

Brian

That is a kind of suits that everyone’s wants to have.
Do you have any Summer Suits there? I just want to buy it for my sister and brother, can you show me some of its recent design?

Water heater

Great shoes on the photo, real classic. I wear only classical Italian shoes.

Anonymous

Very interesting post indeed! Simon could have concluded as follows: “a cordovan boots with a triple sole on the Tricker’s model” and his point would have been clearer!
Yet, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Simon himself happened to have a Tricker’s country boots! Therefore the real issue is whether or not in matter of style one were ready to embrace the kind of cosmopolite aesthete’s perspective he is adamantly advocating on his great blog!

Frith Street Post

I agree with this well written post. I wear Berlutis, and I have .. ahem … large feet. The Blake sole gives a much sleeker look, which I like, but which also helps to “slim” my feet.

I have seven pairs, make sure to look after them, only wear them once a week and the they wear just fine.

I do own several pairs of Allen Edmunds shoes with the conventional sole, but while more robust, they don’t see the light of day that much, as I don’t care for the aesthetics as much.

Anonymous

Hi Simon, need some advice as someone who clearly understands the pros & cons of various types of shoe. I usually wear a goodyear welted shoe (C&J/Churches) & love doing so however i have unfortunately had an accident resulting in torn knee ligaments.

Ive been told by a specialist to wear soft shoes with a low heel (for at least a year while the damage heals), so this has left me in a bit of a quandry as to what kind of shoes to wear when i go out. I found a brand called ‘harrys of london’ in burlington arcade which seems quite expensive for what they produce which is a trainer type shoe with a rubber sole. Have you had any experience with the brand? Would you recommend them?

Thanks, Rupesh

Anonymous

Thanks Simon, think a Goodyear welted shoe won’t work unfortunately a the heel stack is invariably 1inch high which is too much. Are there any smart loafer manufacturers you could recommend me which are known for comfort with a low heel, Im not bothered a out longevity of the shoe as I he to god to be recovered in a year or so?

Rupesh

Lucas

I have yet to see a goodyear welted shoe produced in Brazil. All of our shoes are blake, as you can see in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UbpUI3HLsk

Does that mean that for us, a goodyear welted shoe would be impossible to resole and therefore a blake stitched one would be the durable option?

Mark

I’m currently looking for new shoes and have been researching different brands and constructions. I came across your article about blake stitching, which is very helpful!

I am curious to know what you mean by “…more delicate and will not last as long as Goodyear-welted shoes.” How are they more delicate and what’s the life-span of a blake stitch shoe? As I’m looking to grow in my style and pay more for quality brands, I’m concerned about purchasing shoes that won’t last a year. I’ve heard blake stitched shoes can allow water in – is this really true?

Currently, I’m looking at getting shoes from Beckett Simonon, which are blake stitch. Do you have any experience with them? If not, could you recommend a quality brand I should look at?

I appreciate all the information.

mark

Simon – Thank you for the explanation! I’ve started looking for cobblers who can resole blake stitch. There are two issues with going with English shoe brands – I live in the USA and I have a narrow heel, which I’m told would be better off with Italian or Spanish shoe brands.

Any additional brands I could try here in the States would be welcomed!

oli

I have two pairs of boots, one a goodyear welted boot and one a blake stitched boot. I wear the blake stitched boots a lot more due to the increased comfort. Good year welted shoes are terribly clompy and a bit rigid. You get used to this but its noticeable when you wear both styles of shoe.
As for blake stitch not being water proof this is is not the case as there are blake construction methods that are far far superior to goodyear welting.
William Lennon for example make a blake stitched boot where they build a triple layer sole by getting three pieces of veg tanned leather, cutting and trimming to form the sole and then using brass screws (fired from a machine) to form an an incredibly compact and durable sole. This creates an incredible waterproof and utterly bomb proof boot, fit for the harshest of conditions and toughest of wear (hence they were originally used by mountaineers, quarrymen, miners and farmers)
Look up William Lennon to get a full understand as my explanation is a bit simple..
Plus they charge £40 for a resole vs £100 plus for a Northamptonshire maker.
Plus my blake stitched boots have lasted 8 years of hard wear and are out for a resole which was very reasonable (£50) whereas if I want to send of for my goodyear boot to be resoled they charge £115!
In summary, both are great but goodyear welts for formal shoes makes sense, for durable boots Lennon have the best method of construction out there.