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Rethinking the durability of glued shoes vs welted shoes

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    Rethinking the durability of glued shoes vs welted shoes

    One of the things to look for in a quality shoe is usually the presence of full grain leather and a welted sole. It seems that most welted shoes (which almost always have full grain leather with them) come in at the $250+ mark (without sales). However, one can often find full grain leather shoes at the $100-$150 mark but with glued soles.

    Of course a glued sole is not as durable as a welted sole...but is it really that much of a difference? I recently had one of my glued sole shoe come apart from the glue separating after years of service. Darn I thought, should have gone with a shoe that had a welted sole! However, I brought them to my cobbler who simply reattached and updated the glued sole for a measly 8 dollars...now the shoe is ready again for more years of service. This got me thinking that while full grain leather is definitely important, perhaps the added cost of having a welted shoe might not be worth it for some people. Thoughts?

    EDIT: Another factor to add into this is the longevity of a glued sole vs a welted sole. Greg_S has a comment that makes the argument much closer than what one may think:

    Originally posted by greg_s View Post
    This is all true, but just adding a topy to the sole and replacing when needed (along with an only $8 charge to reattach the sole) makes the argument against glued shoes with good leather much weaker. Hmm. This is speaking as someone with almost exclusively welted leather shoes. This thread just struck me as interesting food for thought.
    Last edited by Acousticfoodie; November 26, 2012, 07:32 PM. Reason: More info

    #2
    Very good point. As I understand, the advantage of a welted sole isn't just the durability, but the ability to resole the shoe.
    Dress for style, live for results.

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      #3
      Originally posted by tomservo View Post
      Very good point. As I understand, the advantage of a welted sole isn't just the durability, but the ability to resole the shoe.
      This. It's not about how quickly you go through the sole so much as whether or not you have to trash the shoes when you finally do.

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        #4
        Originally posted by Acousticfoodie View Post
        One of the things to look for in a quality shoe is usually the presence of full grain leather and a welted sole. It seems that most welted shoes (which almost always have full grain leather with them) come in at the $250+ mark (without sales). However, one can often find full grain leather shoes at the $100-$150 mark but with glued soles.

        Of course a glued sole is not as durable as a welted sole...but is it really that much of a difference? I recently had one of my glued sole shoe come apart from the glue separating after years of service. Darn I thought, should have gone with a shoe that had a welted sole! However, I brought them to my cobbler who simply reattached and updated the glued sole for a measly 8 dollars...now the shoe is ready again for more years of service. This got me thinking that while full grain leather is definitely important, perhaps the added cost of having a welted shoe might not be worth it for some people. Thoughts?
        I have thought about this on many occasions, although i havent had the chance, yet, to take a pair of unglued to the cobbler, but i suspect the same thing would happen cheap fix for a shoe that is loved. I think we all would agree that quality leather is much more important when it comes to shoes because that is the first thing those of little interest in style notice, then the sole becomes an interest of those in our crowd. I buy what can be budgeted. I have never had problems with glued shoes with Great leather...and durability is based on the owners treatment. I bet my glued shoes (1 from bostonian which i purchased about 6 yrs ago), is in better shape than another persons welted.

        DOnt get me wrong though, i would jump at an opportunity to buy a pair of affordable AE's lmao...
        "The key to Success is the Quality of Execution"
        I>0<I

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          #5
          Originally posted by alan View Post
          This. It's not about how quickly you go through the sole so much as whether or not you have to trash the shoes when you finally do.
          This is all true, but just adding a topy to the sole and replacing when needed (along with an only $8 charge to reattach the sole) makes the argument against glued shoes with good leather much weaker. Hmm. This is speaking as someone with almost exclusively welted leather shoes. This thread just struck me as interesting food for thought.
          "You don't need money to dress better than you do" - Salvatore Romano

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            #6
            Don't have anything terribly constructive to add because I haven't been wearing dress shoes for too long but I'm glad to see this thread, it's such an interesting idea yet it does fit in with the general thinking of the Dappered community. (And it's an idea that runs contrary to #menswear). Can I get some examples of glued shoes with good leather? I know what good leather is when we're talking Alden, John Lobb, etc... but what's considered good leather on the glued sole side?

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              #7
              One issue that I've consistently seen between welted and glued shoes is the leather quality. I was stopped by a Saks last week, and they had a number of Magnanni and To Boot New York shoes (both welted, either Goodyear or Blake, I believe). I then stopped by DSW where all of the shoes are glued. Even the highest end DSW models had visibly poorer leather quality than any of the shoes at Saks. Now, I know this is a small sampling, but I think it illustrates a wider trend between low/low-mid and mid/high-mid range brands (Cole Haan/Johnston Murphy vs To Boot/AE). I realize this isn't the original issue that acoustic brought up, but I think it controls a significant portion of the price difference.

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                #8
                I own one pair of glued sole shoes. I recently had to have them reglued. I also paid the cobbler to sew the rubber soles on at the same time. You can't tell it was done unless you look at the bottom of the show or remove the insole.

                However, because of the experience with these shoes, I'm a bit parranoid of any future not welted shoes falling apart during an important social event or when I don't have access to another pair.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by LosRockets View Post
                  Don't have anything terribly constructive to add because I haven't been wearing dress shoes for too long but I'm glad to see this thread, it's such an interesting idea yet it does fit in with the general thinking of the Dappered community. (And it's an idea that runs contrary to #menswear). Can I get some examples of glued shoes with good leather? I know what good leather is when we're talking Alden, John Lobb, etc... but what's considered good leather on the glued sole side?
                  Think higher end DSW house brands, Cole Haan, Aldo.

                  Originally posted by bjmcgeever View Post
                  One issue that I've consistently seen between welted and glued shoes is the leather quality. I was stopped by a Saks last week, and they had a number of Magnanni and To Boot New York shoes (both welted, either Goodyear or Blake, I believe). I then stopped by DSW where all of the shoes are glued. Even the highest end DSW models had visibly poorer leather quality than any of the shoes at Saks. Now, I know this is a small sampling, but I think it illustrates a wider trend between low/low-mid and mid/high-mid range brands (Cole Haan/Johnston Murphy vs To Boot/AE). I realize this isn't the original issue that acoustic brought up, but I think it controls a significant portion of the price difference.
                  This is a very good point. It's kind of like buying a TV, maybe you just want 1080p, but all the TV's that have it also have a ton of other bells and whistles that jack the price up. Is there an apples to apples compairson on leather quality with welted v glued shoes?

                  I think acousticfoodie's point should be well taken, though. Our corner of style, and life in general really, is about balance. I'm sure we'd all love to wear nothing but $500 shoes and bespoke suits, but in reality a $150 pair of Mercanti's is probably good enough for most people, and good enough to not look cheap.
                  Dress for style, live for results.

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by tomservo View Post
                    I think acousticfoodie's point should be well taken, though. Our corner of style, and life in general really, is about balance. I'm sure we'd all love to wear nothing but $500 shoes and bespoke suits, but in reality a $150 pair of Mercanti's is probably good enough for most people, and good enough to not look cheap.
                    Truth.

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                      #11
                      I have really enjoyed reading people's thoughts and opinions in this post. I have 2 pairs of shoes with glued soles that are over 3 years old and neither one shows any signs of falling apart. In addition, I have had a positive experience with the Blake Boot from the Mr. B line from Aldo, and the McPherson Cap Toe from Johnston and Murphy. This has led to me reconsidering my welted only stance.

                      This is not to say that welted shoes are equal in quality to my Allen Edmonds, however, the difference is not as great as many make it out to be. Bjmcgeever makes a great point that glued shoes often don't have the same quality as leather as welted shoes. However, the leather from the higher end DSW brands and Aldo is improving.

                      What bothers/annoys me is brands like Hugo Boss and Cole Haan, who have glued soles but still charge $250 plus for their shoes.

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