The Goodyear welt process is the traditional method for the manufacture of men's boots and shoes, taking its name from the inventor Charles Goodyear Jr.who devised the original machine to replace the earlier completely hand sewn method.
Essentially, the upper part of the shoe is shaped over the last and fastened onto the sole by sewing a leather, linen or synthetic strip (also known as the "welt") to the inner and upper sole. As well as using a welt, a thread is used to hold the material firmly together. The benefit of a boot which is made using the Goodyear welt construction is that it can be resoled repeatedly, giving the boot a lifespan of years, sometimes even decades. Some claims towards added ventilation have been made as well but there are no proven studies comparing the breathability of different boot construction methods.
The welt forms a cavity which is then filled with a cork material. The final part of the shoe is the sole which is attached to the welt of the shoe by some combination of stitching along the edge of the welt and sole, and a high strength adhesive like contact cement or hide glue. The Goodyear welt is highly regarded for a number of reasons including being relatively waterproof by not allowing water to get into the insole due to the welt-sole construction, the relative ease in which the sole can be replaced, and the fact that the shoe can last up to 20 years or longer depending on the treatment and condition of the upper.
The very nature of this shoe construction means that Goodyear welted boots and shoes take much longer to manufacture than cheaper alternatives. Factories commonly hire scores of highly skilled operators to create footwear of comfort and durability.
Goodyear welted construction is the chosen method for some highly reputable brands in the shoe industry, for example: Alden, Alfred Sargent, Allen Edmonds, Barker, Boulet Boots, Brooks Brothers, Caterpillar (CAT), Cheaney, Chippewa, Church, Crockett & Jones, Dr. Martens, Florsheim, George Cleverley (RTW), Grenson Ltd, Grinders, Loake Shoes, Mayura, Oliver Grey, Oliver Sweeney, Red Wing Boots, RM Williams, Sancho, Timberland and Wolverine.