I started off this morning in bed foolishly thinking I was going to write a beautiful, comprehensive, and detailed account of every type of welt that Alden has to offer, supported by gorgeous and illustrative imagery showing perfect examples of each. After about an hour of research and clumsy photography, I’ve realized how big the topic of welts really is and how hard it is to capture clear pictures of all the varieties. This will need to be broken down into segments to make sense of it all. First a little background on the Goodyear welt.
What is a welt?
Simply put, a welt is a long strip of leather that wraps around the perimeter of the shoe and is stitched to the upper and the outsole, securely joining them together.
Alden is one of the few remaining companies to exclusively use Goodyear welt construction for almost all of their shoes and boots. (I say almost, because shoes in the Cape Cod line are not Goodyear welted). First patented in 1937, the Goodyear welt has a proven record of providing outstanding comfort and durability as well as giving a shoe the ability to be resoled without damaging the upper. A quick search in Google Patents, provides a myriad of wonderful images and technical data which is nearly impossible for me to understand or translate. But know this: A Goodyear welted shoe is more comfortable than a non-welted one. The support that you feel is superior to shoes with soles that are glued on or sewn using inferior methods. Also, the stitching that holds the upper to the outsole doesn’t touch the ground, so you do not feel any lumps and moisture from the ground won’t seep into the shoes. Air will permeate the welt stitching, allowing good circulation but water can also penetrate with enough exposure. A bit of wax along the seam can help keep the elements out if so desired.
Alden has a number of welt options and I will be discussing them in the next segment. Until then, enjoy these beautiful old technical drawings of some of the various patents involving Goodyear welts and their construction.