A pair of Loake Goodyear Welted shoes takes up to eight weeks to make. Some 130 skilled craftsmen, up to 75 shoe parts and over 200 different operations are involved. The following steps are the first key stages in our shoemaking operations. We hope they give you an insight into the process…
1. Clicking (Cutting)
This is the name given to the process of cutting the leather sections of the shoe uppers. The name ‘clicking’ is derived from the noise that is made when the blade of the knife is removed from the leather when this is done by hand. Although we source the finest leather from the best suppliers – all leather has its flaws. It takes a very skilled craftsman to be able to work the leather to avoid flaws and marks, yet minimise waste, whilst always cutting on the correct grain (the direction in which the leather should be cut to maintain the pattern shape.
“Closing” is where the various sections of the shoe upper are stitched together. There are many stages within this one operation. For example, the thickness of the leather is “skived” (reduced) to avoid bulkiness and the edges of the leather are stained, seared or folded to improve appearance. The brogue punch holes and eyelet holes are also added at this stage of the shoemaking process.
The shoe upper is pulled over the “last” and attached to the insole at the toe, sides and seat. Before lasting, the uppers are “mulled” (conditioned) in a special room where the temperature and humidity are controlled to get as much moisture as possible into the upper before the lasting process. This makes the leather more pliable and allows it to mould to the shape of the last easily.
4. Welt Sewing
The “welt” is a strip of leather that is stitched to the upper and the insole, and to which the sole will also be stitched. Because welted shoes are sewn together, rather than glued, skilled craftsmen can dismantle and repair them – meaning if you take good care of the uppers, they can last you years.
For Part 2 of our shoemaking operations, click here.