Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Shoes are not made the same way in Italy and England. The way I heard it, Goodyear welting never took off in Italy for the simple reason that Goodyear never had a salesperson assigned there. But however it may have happened, the English, and the Americans for that matter, usually attach sole to upper using the aforementioned Goodyear welt and the Italians use either Blake or Blake/Rapid construction most of the time.
Now, as one might expect, the two methods are reasonably well aligned with the countries themselves. Goodyear construction is heavier, which is good for the cold, and water resistant, which is good for the wet. Blake is lighter, which is good for the heat, and considerably less expensive, which lends itself to fashionable, short lived shoes (Blake/Rapid is actually closer to Goodyear in terms of its characteristics but let us not let facts get in the way of an otherwise perfectly clear comparison).
Now, like almost everyone who was raised to the Northwest of Milan, I am prejudiced towards Goodyear construction. Blake/Rapid definitely has its place for summer shoes and a couple other applications but there is no better shoe than one that is side channeled and Goodyear welted by hand.
Sole attachment techniques aside, the best Italian shoes may be a bit better made and certainly are a bit better finished than English shoes at roughly the same price point. And that is why I have been looking forward to my first pair of Goodyear welted but Italian-made shoes, sourced in Florence by my friend Francesco. Slipons with hand-stitched aprons they are, and I may need to add a brogued pair of the same design. And some more hand-stitched aprons, monkstraps this time, in some sort of textured calf.
Goodyear lasted in Florence. It is a whole new world.