If you have been shopping for work or for everyday boots or shoe, you may have wondered why there is such a drastic price difference between certain similar looking boots.
Yes, the brand, the materials, the level of craftsmanship and hand labor used for making them do affect the price, but one of the main differences which also has a huge impact on the durability and thus the price of the boots is the shoe construction method used. The construction of the boot refers to the method used to attach the uppers to the soles of the boot.
The uppers are the parts of the boot which cover the foot, and are usually made of canvas, leather or other textiles and materials. The uppers can have zippers, eyelets for lacing or could be from the pull on type.
The outsole is the outer material which is the part of the boot which contacts the ground. Outsoles can be made of various materials, but commonly they are from rubber which is durable and provides great traction to prevent slipping on wet surfaces.
The insoles of the boots are the thin layers of leather or other material which lay on the bottoms of the insides of the shoes, and which you step on when you put on your shoes. The insoles can be made of different types of materials. They can be cushioned, supportive, moisture wicking, anti-bacterial and others. In many cases the insoles are removable.
The “last” of the boots is the 3D shaped model which is used as a basis for the design and form of the boots.
They vary in accordance to the machines, technology, methods and materials used. Different boot construction type all have their pros and cons, so make sure you keep in mind these differences and possible benefits and negative sides of each when you are shopping for new boots or shoes.
First invented and introduced back in the 1860’s this is still one of the most durable boot construction methods used. It was named after its inventor Charles Goodyear Jr. who designed the machine based method for sowing the uppers of the shoes to the soles. The insoles have a strip of canvas which is called “gemming” attached to them. On top, the upper is stretched over a 3D last on top of the insole and is cemented to it with an appropriate adhesive. Then very strong thread is used to sow the uppers to the insoles and soles together. Each stitch is a lock stitch, which reduces the risk of the whole stitch getting unraveled if one of the separate stitches accidentally gets broken. This is the most durable type of boot construction. Once the soles get worn, the boots can be resoled and can be worn for decades ahead. It comes to no surprise that some manufacturers who use this boot construction method offer lifetime warranties for their footwear! The negatives of this construction type is that it takes more time, requires more manual labor and thus costs quite a bit more than the boots made with simpler constructions.
Lyman Blake invented this shoe construction making machine in the 1850’s. It too relies on strong thread to sow the uppers to the insoles and outsoles, but unlike the Goodyear construction, the stitches are made from the inside of the boots. This is a task which is virtually impossible to be done by hand. The main benefit of this construction type is that the boots with a Blake construction are much more elegant and sleek than other work boots. It is no wonder that Italian shoes typically are made by this construction method. The construction is not as strong as the Goodyear welt construction, but is still quite resilient and will endure for years if proper care is taken of the shoes. The shoes with a Blake construction in general are much lighter than those with a Goodyear construction mainly due to the fact that fewer layers of material are used for the attachment of the uppers to the outsoles and insoles. This type of footwear too can be resoled by experienced cobblers who have the appropriate equipment to sow the uppers to the new soles in the same manner as before. The cons are that this construction type cannot ensure that the boots are waterproof at the seams.
This is the fastest and easiest boot construction method. It is commonly used for everyday and all kinds of other shoes and boots. The uppers and made and shaped on the lasts separately, and when they are ready, they are cemented to the soles with the appropriate adhesive. No stitches or welts are used, which is why this type of construction is not nearly as sturdy as the ones which involve stitching. Still, they are quite durable, they can look good and most importantly are affordable. The cons are that they cannot be resoled, and that the uppers can relatively easily become unstuck from the soles.
Overall, the construction is one of the most important elements of a shoe or boot, and is essential for the durability, reliability, waterproofness as well as for the price of the footwear!
If you are considering making a long-term investment in your next boots, then purchasing a pair of Goodyear construction boots which will last you for years and decades is the best decision. If you take proper care of your good quality Goodyear welt construction boots, and if you proceed to get them resoled as soon as their soles get worn or broken, they ca actually serve you for life and even outlive you!
If you rather prefer to buy new boots or shoes each season, or if you have a limited budget, you should go for boots or shoes with a cement construction. If they are made properly by a reputable manufacturer and good quality materials and adhesives are used, chances are that they too can serve you for years. Unfortunately, when the soles get worn or damaged, there is no option for re-soling, so you will need to throw them away and get a pair of new ones.
As for the boots and shoes made with Blake’s construction. They are a great choice for elegant looking shoes which will endure long, but cannot help keep your feet dry in rain and in wet conditions, so they are best worn indoors or in dry conditions.
Always think twice about how much you are willing to pay for the quality of the make and construction of the shoes which you are planning on buying. Look for good quality shoes, and ones which fit you well and will serve the purpose you bought them for best!