There are of course several different methods of construction to put together a shoe. In this article all the most common ones are being explained in a short but hopefully understandable way, and pros and cons of the different methods are being highlighted.
The most simple and cheap construction method where the parts of the shoe are simply glued together with strong adhesives. The shoes are light and soft. Can’t normally be resoled, more than the possibility to add a new outsole on top of the worn down outsole.
The simplest version of the sewn construction methods, which similar to a completely glued shoe is flexible and neat but with a seam for extra strength and added possibility of resoling. The Blake stitch, or McKay stitch as it’s also called, simply goes straight through the insole, uppers and outsole. The construction is not moisture resistant, since water can get straight through the seam into the shoe and there is also no protection from the side. If the channel in the sole where the stitch is made is closed it can withstand moisture a bit better. Can, contrary to what many believe, be resoled, as long as the cobbler has a machine that can do Blake stitches. However, the number of resoles are limited since each time you take out and remake the Blake stitch you are most likely to make new holes in the uppers which eventually will look like a Swiss cheese and will be more fragile.
Quite similar to the Blake construction with a seam that runs right through from the outsole to the insole, and shares many of its advantages and disadvantages. But the difference is that the Bologna constructed shoe has the uppers folded and stitched together like a sock, with a thin leather insole added, and just once the whole upper part is finished the outsole is attached. This allows for even softer shoes than Blake stitched ones.
The most common construction method for quality shoes. A canvas rib is glued to the underside of the insole to which upper and a thin leather strip is attached, called welt, with a machine stitched welt seam. The outsole is then attached to the welt with a sole stitch. The construction makes a strong and relatively water resistant shoe that is easy to resole, since you can remove the sole stitch and outsole without insole and upper being affected. The shoe, however, is more rigid and less flexible than for example a Blake stitched shoe.
Cons of the Goodyear construction method that are usually brought forward is that the canvas rib, called gemming, is only glued to place, causing a risk (how large is widely debated) for it to loosen or break which needs the shoe to be back on it’s original last for a proper re-installment of the canvas rib to be able to be resoled. Also since the canvas rib is quite high, you have a large void in the middle of the shoe which you have to fill up with a thick layer of cork paste.
As the name suggests, the method is basically identical to the aforementioned Goodyear construction, but the difference is that the welt seam is made entirely by hand and done directly to the insole. You carv out a holdfast in the insole (which due to this fact normally is thicker and of better quality than those used for many machine made shoe constructions) and do the welt stitches to that. This also makes the cavity in the middle of the shoe much smaller, so you can use much less cork paste or real cork, felt or leather instead making the construction more compact. A hand welted shoe can have both a machine- or handmade sole stitch. This is the finest construction method and is used by almost all bespoke makers, but also some Ready to Wear brands do it.
Blake / Rapid
Are sort of a mix of the Blake stitched and welted construction methods, which shares many of the latters advantages. Here a midsole is attached to the insole with a Blake stitch, and the the outsole is sewn to the midsole with a sole stitch (Rapid is one of the largest makers of sole stitching machines, hence the name). This provides a shoe that is relatively waterproof and where it’s easy to replace the outsole without the need to influence the insole and upper part, it is done in the same way as on a welted shoe. Pros compared to Goodyear welted shoes is that there is stitching holding all the shoes parts together, not just glue in the canvas rib with Goodyear, and that there is a smaller void more similar to the hand welted construction. Con compared to Goodyear is that you have stitches going through to the inside of the shoe, so it’s not an as “closed” construction method.
Not really an own construction method, since exactly the same construction as the aforementioned Goodyear, hand welted or Blake/Rapid methods are used. But the difference is that you have a sturdier welt which has a rib that goes up above the stitching against the uppers. This prevents water to get into the shoe from the sides.
Norvegese, Norweigan, Goyser, Bentavenegna
These are all similar construction methods with often small differences, sometimes more important one, but the problem is that different makers call things differently, so it’s very hard to define exactly what is what and what is correct. The base of all these methods is however that there is a stitch made from the insole towards the upper and out on the outside of the shoe, and a regular sole stitch. Some have the uppers pulled outwards, some has a welt/storm welt, some has extra row of stitching which attach a midsole, and so on. These methods are almost always made by hand, and often the stitches are braided in different decorative ways. They are quite sturdy constructions, and especially the ones where the upper leather is turned outwards are very waterproof.
A method that reminds a lot of the Norvegese etc construction methods. Here the upper is also folded outwards, but you have a regular welt which and a straight sole stitch which can be made by machine. The shoes are highly water resistant and therefore the method is most common among heavier boots. There are different variants of Veldtschoen construction, which is also called stitchdown, where the basic one is that the upper part is folded outwards and sewn directly into the outsole with a sole stitch. Some different takes are where you place a welt below the upper on the sole edge, and sometimes you also use an extra row of stitches attaching a midsole.
Wood pegged, brass pegged
An old method that is not very common nowadays, where you attach insole, uppers and outsole with wood or brass pegs. Uppers are secured to the insole with small pins, before pegs are hammered in. It was used mainly because it’s a quick and simple yet strong construction method, but since all parts of the shoe get holes in it it’s not the most durable construction, and resoles are limited.
What’s more common is the use of pegs, often of wood, for the waist. Instead of stitching the waist you wood peg it, making it easier to achieve a tight fitting waist, can also give some extra strength if done properly. But those shoes normally have welted sole parts, so they are essentially welted shoes and not pegged ones.