How Goodyear Welted Shoes are Made | Gaziano & Girling Factory Tour

How Goodyear Welted Shoes are Made | Gaziano & Girling Factory Tour

Hi, I’m Kirby Allison and we love helping
the well-dressed take care of their wardrobes. Because of our close
relationship with Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling, we were offered exclusive access
to bring our cameras inside the new Gaziano and Girling factory to share with
you how they make their renowned Goodyear-Welted shoes. The first new shoe
making factory to be opened in North Hampton in over a hundred years; the
facility is quite simply amazing. Using a combination of the best shoe making
machines of the past, some being as much as a hundred years old.
A brilliant modern manufacturing process and an incredible amount of handwork for
a factory made shoe. Gaziano is easily making some of the finest ready-to-wear
shoes available ever made. I really enjoyed the opportunity to visit the
factory. Tony takes us step by step through the entire process they use to
make their near bespoke quality shoes. I hope you enjoy learning about how Goodyear- Welted shoes are made as much as I did. This is called the clicking room,
where the clicking is done. You can see here I’m just rolling out a skin of
black calf. It’s the same quality of leather that most of the West End
bespoke makers use and we use for a row in bespoke service. So pretty much all the
leather that we use, including the black we use is a bespoke leather. It’s one of
the things that you know when we created the brand we really wanted to do. We
wanted to bring a bespoke shoe to the market as a ready-made product. As you
can see here that the skin itself you can literally split down the middle. So
there’s a backbone that works from the bottom of the skin to the top of the
skin. This being the neck and this being the butt of the animal. An actual fact. If
I pick it up and fold it in half you can see at this end is the neck with the
front legs and this is this is the back legs. The best area is
the is the butt. Majority of the leather usage that we do is right down here in
this area. It’s the most flawless area of the skin and then we probably wouldn’t
go above this area of the skin. So everything else ahead of that would be
what you’d be using for the interior lining. We use for the interior
interior lining or would use for swatches or we would simply chunk away. So
typically, when you cut leather, cut a shoe out, you would create and imagine
relying of the back bone here and then you would put the cap against the back
bone with the vamp and then you would get your quarters back here and that is
you know half a pair of shoes right there. And then for the other half, you
would mirror that simply by coming this side of the backbone. And that literally
would be your first pair of shoes out of that skin. So all the blades that we use
in the clicking room, we have to make ourselves by hand. The reason why we do
that is because the blades that we make are sharper, they last longer, and we get
more definition in the cutting. So all the blades are made actually from a
specific hacksaw blade that we have to snap, put them into the knife handle and
then we grind them down using a grinder. The reason why the clicking room is
called the clicking room and the click or a clicker is because this particular
blade also mades a particular sound. A clicking sound. And many years ago when
you had a room full of clickers cutting leather out, that’s all you would hear.
Everything would the room would be in complete silence and you would just hear
this clicking sound. Hence the name
clicker and clicking room. Okay so this machine is called a royal perforator. Now
what it does is it actually puts in all of the perforation holes and with a
different a little bit that we use it actually puts the the serrated edges on
the edge of the leather as well. So this is where you would do any of the
broguing? Yeah. And what about like a medallion, is that done on this machine too?
No, that’s done on a completely separate machine. That’s done on what we call
a press. So it’s a hole pressure in almost in one bump from the press will
knock all of the medallion holes down. So you can see that’s actually how it
starts off. That’s straight from the clicking room, the cut edge and then it
comes in and we do the serrated edge and then the perforated holes afterwards. And
how is this spacing of this done? The space is created by the machine. So it’s
all these little gadgets on here which alter the distance between. You can see
actually there that that is the same as that. So this kind of goes through…So in
any one punch it punches out three holes. And then the machine takes it. That’s
right, yeah. And then we can have as much distance or as little distance
between each set of punches as we like depending on how we set the machine. So
we’re now in the closing room. Basically this is where the girls stitch all the
sections of the leather together and we use quite old machines because they’re
they’re the easiest to work with. Easy for the girls to kind of be able to move
in in the way that they want. We stitch these together in the same way as a
bespoke shoe where it would be stitched together. And then it’s completely controlled and
by the skill of the girls. So even though I guess it’s a factory made
shoe, I mean a lot of the processes are exactly the same as it would be done
bespoke. Yes. Right, so even though it’s done by machine, it’s done by hand
individually by machine. Yeah. I mean this this process here is exactly the same
as a bespoke cutter. So far the clicking has been the same as bespoke.
Yeah. Sewing, the closing has been the same as the spoke. Yeah. Using the same
bespoke quality uppers. Yep, exactly yeah. So you sure these aren’t bespoke shoes?
Well almost. So how would it be done you know at
lower quality you know shoe that’s produced you’re kind of in greater
volumes. Some of the bigger factories have automated stitching machines and it
would be almost zero operative skill. So they would place the leather in a
template. The machine would come down and do all the stitching. And so this allows
you I suppose to have I guess more beautiful kind of more complicated
patterns. You know I mean one of the reasons that people buy this kind of
product is is is not just for the beauty of the shoes, but the expertise of the
people that are working on them. You know it really does show human
characteristics in kind of the making. Yeah. So where are we now in the process?
So we’re now in the lasting area. Basically the process that this shoe has
just been through, we’ve just drafted the upper around. So we pulled the toe in and
pulled the sides in and put just a couple of nails in the side just to hold
it in place. And you’ve got the insole in too. That’s right. Yeah, the insoles in there
as well. So when you get to this point as well you check the proportions of the
upper. You have to make sure that this is the apron. That it sits right on the last.
That these points, the buckle is where it should be, and the back seam is straight
down the center of the back as well. Okay. Basically once the drafting is done, then
we go over to this machine which is called a pullover machine. Now the
pullover machine actually drafted a little bit tighter in there and puts
these little pins in the side there. On here you can see that there are five
pincers; one at the toe, two at the side. Each one of these pincers grabs a
section of the lasted leather and then drafts it over. So it’s stretching the the
upper, the interlining. Yep. I guess you put any stiffeners in here. That’s right. We’ve
got a toe puff in there as well. Okay. It’s stretching it over the last
and that’s what gives this definition. This definition is actually created more
by the next machine, which is called the bed laster. But what this does it
actually pulls all of the leather down to the last tightly so that the shoe is
exactly the same shape as the last. That’s what really kind of determines
the fit and the look of the shoe. So we’re now at the third stage of lasting.
This is called a bed laster. So basically this machine lasts the toe in and
creates the definition around the toe area. Gives it a nice sharp feather edge.
Normally this is done by putting the shoe in upside down. The plate wraps
around and these plates kind of pull in and you can see that there then we tie a
wire around the edge of the shoe to hold it in until the welt is sewn in. And that
wire holds that definition in there. Yeah, holds it tight basically. Once the once
the welt is in, we take the we take the nails out, we take the wire out
then it’s released. But it really just kind of holds that shape in. I mean this
this piece of machinery is pretty much an antique. I think it was originally built
in the 1920s and we’re one of only two factories that use it. incredible. It’s
unbelievable how old some of these machines are I mean you know even even
with that you know factory made shoes, the methods are still been around for a
hundred years. Yeah well like I said before these these
were created as the first point of manufacture and after hand making
stopped in factories. So originally say like 150 years ago you would have had a
rooms of people lasting and sewing welts You know hundreds of people to kind of get the
production out and then they introduced these machines and a machine like this
was probably one of the first inventions after hand-making stopped to kind of put
mass-produced footwear. That kind of industrialization. Yeah. Great, so now what
would be next after this? So next, I think we’re going on to the welt sewing. So
we’re at the welt machine now. Yeah. And so this is Goodyear-Welting which is you
know really you know the whole entire point of a of a well-made shoe is the
Goodyear-Welt and that’s what allows the shoe to be resoled. Yep. That’s what
the whole of this type of construction is named after. It’s it’s basically a
welt which is a thin strip of leather which is attached to the shoe all the
way around from heel breast, all the way around to heel breast. Attached shoes is
what we call a lock stitch. Which basically means if one stitch doesn’t
comes undone the other one all the rest of the stitches hold. And so the
welt stitch is the welt through the upper, the inner lining and the
insole. That’s right. All four pieces of those. Well not the
insole. So the difference say between this and a blake stitch is that the
blake would have no welt, the sole would be glued to the shoe, and the stitch
would go all the way through the sole in the insole. Okay. So basically if you’re
walking in the rain with a blake shoe, chances are you’re gonna get
your feet wet. With a with a welt, the welt is stitched to the upper and the
rib which is attached to the insole. Okay. And then the soul is glued on and
the sole is stitched then to the welt rather than the shoe. Okay. So the rib is
this piece of…that’s right yeah…material right here. Whereas with the
bespoke shoe the hand welding would go through the insole? It would go
through the insole but you create, you still create a rib on that insole. It’s a
wider flatter rib. But you actually…that’s what’s kind of cut out? Yes, what you carve out with
a knife. So then after this is done,
you’ve got the welt, you trim it. Yeah. And then do you cork it? Yep. So after
this stage we would then put the the wooden shank in. I would also put a
fiddle in there to get a nice. Okay yep. And then we would fill this void with cork.
Basically what the the rib does that the welt’s stitched onto is it leaves a little
bit of a void around about three millimeters between the sole and the
insole of the shoe. So in that void we put a wooden shank in there and a fiddle
to kind of give the shape and the support that you need and then we fill
the whole void with cork. So that’s about three millimeters of cork all the
way through. Okay. The advantage of cork is is that when you start wearing the
shoe, the insole softens up and it bends down into the cork and it creates a very
comfortable footbed. And then what happens after this process? You you
put the outsole on? Yeah, so now after this process we you know we basically glue
all this up. We wet the soles which is the oak bark soles and we glue both of
them up and attach them together. So next we’re at the sole stitching machine. That’s
right yeah. Right. So this has been filled with cork
and you channel the sole. I guess you glue the sole on, then you
channel it. Yeah. And then it’s stitched. That’s right.
So what you mean by channeled is actually we slice a millimeter thick by
ten millimeter wide piece of leather, open it up, and then we stitch it on the
sole stitcher and then we close the channel down so that the stitch is
hidden on the bottom of the shoe. And that’s what allows a shoe I mean along
with the welt be resoled. Yes. The welt is the main part that allows you
to resole it many times. Okay. The covering of the stitching is mostly
aesthetic to be honest. So whenever you look on a shoe,
you know the stitching you see right here isn’t attaching the welt to the
upper but that is attaching the sole to the welt. That’s correct, yeah. So
now we’re at heel attaching. It’s a little bit more complicated than it
sounds. So you can see every single one of these sections and lifts of a piece
of oak bark leather. We actually stack all those individually on our own by
gluing them all together and eventually putting a top piece on. Then we hammer
brass nails in, cut the heads off, and then scourer it it all down to a nice
pitched heel, whereas typical manufacturing you would kind of get a
heel block. What do you use brass nails for? Any particular reason?
Yeah, it’s it’s a little bit aesthetic, but it’s also because they wear at the
same speed as as leather. So you know if you used steel for example which would
protrude through wear then you would get a lot more slippage. Okay. You
guys are constructing your own heels here which is part of what allows such a
beautiful kind of silhouetted heel. Yeah. How does that differ from other ready-to-wear shoes that you know I feel like that the heel is really a place where
you can see the quality of a you know a really high-end ready-to-wear shoe
versus something that’s just mid-range. Yeah. Is the elegance of…Well, it is
probably the way that it’s made. I mean typically in a normal factory a
manufacturer would buy a whole heel block in and attach it all in one go. And
then you have a limited control over the way you want the heel to look. You know
with our heels like we’re laying every separate section individually
and then we’re scouring it all down. So when you get the finished product you
actually see all the different layers of leather and all the characteristics that
that leather has. Great, so now at this point I mean the shoe is really almost
all done. I mean I guess what’s left in the finishing process at this
point? So in the finishing process I mean from this stage the edges would be trimmed
and tidied up. They would then be stained, they would be waxed and ironed,
which is again is another process which is exactly the same as what you would
have in a bespoke shoe. Everything’s hand ironed, you get a nice
sheen, compressed all the fibers of the leather together. And it comes out a
nice crisp sharp finish. After that, the sole bottom would then be all sanded
down completely down to the level below this which is like this area and we
would then start to stain the bottom of the sole. Yeah and you guys spend an
incredible amount of time finishing the soles also with you know kind of your
waist your black waist and you even colored the shoe. And then you even stain
and polish the forefront also right? Yeah yeah. And again a lot of it you’ll see
with what we call the free waist that we do. There’s no templates. There’s no
markings on the leather. It’s all done by the craftsmen by hand. And you know when
we when we put the combination of stains on the fore part and the waxes, it has to
be kind of again all sponged on by hand. And you know it really kind of gives the
depths of the leather when it’s finished.
Yeah. Beautiful. You know inside and underneath is the outside of the
shoes. Yeah, it is. So here we are at the patina station. This is where the area
where we we we basically hand paint shoes to the customers order. Basically the way
we do that is we make all of the shoes in a crust leather. It’s a leather
that’s that’s drum dyed with a little bit of wax on top but that’s all that’s
been done to it. Whether what that allows us to do it allows us to put inks and
stains into the leather and the leather can absorb it so that we can build up a
nice beautiful kind of finish. And this is another characteristic that
you guys really brought to ready-to-wear was this level of kind of hand work
or kind of hand involvement in the finish of the shoe. Yeah. Really just as
much during the construction and certainly even more rare. Yeah. I mean you
know we’re I mean fortunately you know we’re small enough to be able to kind of
add these little delicacies. You know we were the first certainly the first
English company to kind of add this patina service. We take orders from all
over the world from people you know that there wants whatever colors they want.
Yeah. How many different patinas do you have? The standards ones. Well we have standard ones
we have about 20, but then we have you know customers are allowed to kind of
make up their own combinations and colors you know. If they want us to use
three colors to make an individual patina color then we can we really can
bespoke it for them and we’ve done shoes with rabbits on the soles and
patinas. We’ve we’ve done all kinds of crazy things. Yeah. But the best ones are
the you know basically the more subtle ones like this. Yeah, absolutely. I mean this
still has yet to be polished, but it started life as this color. And
then we put a base color on which is like a pink color. It’s
actually that color there. Like a burgundy. Yeah. So then that’s kind
of basically put on uniform all over the shoe and this is where the skill comes
in. They then use a darker version of the burgundy
to kind of basically shade in the different shading areas so then you get
this light and dark kind effect through the shoe and the
real skill with patina is to make that effect seamless so one color blends
into the other without any harsh lines. Once the patina base is set
and we can start to spit and polish it. Every pair of shoes that comes through the factory, unless it’s suede, is build
up by hand the traditional way. It pretty much ends up like that. Yeah.
It’s gorgeous. Wow, incredible. So then this shoe would
be ready to be boxed up and sent off to a happy happy client. Yeah.
So that shoes ready to go. We’ve got the vienna sock in there, all
of the sole edges everything is finished, it’s nicely polished up. We’ll be ready
to go in the box and go. Great. Well Tony, hey thank you so much for having us
at the factory. This has been an absolute pleasure. It has. Real pleasure. There’s
been so much more to the process and I think even I expected. You know
really I was struck by you know just how much handwork is going into the shoes
and although it’s a machine welted kind of Goodyear-Welted shoe, that really is
quite close to the bespoke process. It is. You know when you when you start to wear
it and you experience it over a period of time, you feel the difference with the
leathers, the components inside the shoes, the soles. It gives you support
where you need it. Let you let your feet flex where they need to and they wear
the same as as bespoke shoe so it’s you know it’s
a great product. Yeah. Well keep up the great work. We
really appreciate it and you know we’ll do our part to you know help your
customers keep these shoes looking great. Yeah no I appreciate it. Thank you
very much. All right take care.

100 thoughts on “How Goodyear Welted Shoes are Made | Gaziano & Girling Factory Tour

  1. Kirby I have a question. Since the canvas rib is GLUED on the insole, the good-year welted shoe is basically a glued shoe because if the canvas rib comes apart from the insole, you could basically take the shoe apart right? I mean, nothing will hold the shoe together anymore, where with a handwelted shoe the welt is realy stitched to the insole, which can offcourse not come apart unless the stitch brakes. Am I right? would love to hear from you! all the best from the Netherlands!

  2. Hello Kirby — I wanted to say that your videos have inspired me to buy quality dress shoes and take care of them with routine shoe polishing and maintenance. So, thank you for the content you provide. I had a general question. I've sort of gone deep into the rabbit hole of buying shoes and I have many pairs that I really enjoy. What's your philosophy or practical approach to rotating through your multiple pairs of shoes? Do you feel as though you neglect any? Thanks again.

  3. So in terms of elite RTW shoemakers, would the hierarchy basically be:
    1) G&G
    2) St. Crispin
    3) John Lobb
    4) Cleverly
    5) Edward Green

  4. Just favorited this video! I absolutely love my G&G and it’s thrilling to see the place and process used to make these exquisite works of art.

  5. I’ve tried one of G&G loafers in the shop, it is definitely the best ready to wear shoes in the world. The fit & finish is superior even compared to some bespoke shoe makers.

  6. I have two GG shoes. One is bespoke which was made by Tony when he was just beginning to start his company and a MTO I bought thru Suitable Wardrobe.

  7. Dear Kirby, this is by far the best (shoe) factory visit video on YouTube, believe me I’ve looked. Production quality is top-notch, thanks for that. Since you’ve visited both, Cleverly and G&G, do you think there’s a difference in quality when it comes to their respective RTW lines? Best from Germany.

  8. when Tony was talking about corking, 12:40 to 13:05, he mentioned adding a wooden shank, and a fiddle for shape.

    what is a fiddle?

  9. Great video. Been wanting to see the G&G operations and factory for awhile now. This is exactly what I was hoping for.

  10. Hi Kirby,
    It's a lovely video indeed.
    I notice that many English shoemakers (even for brands as expensive as GG and EG) use Goodyear welted instead of hand welted. I've heard that the gemming used in the sole will undermine the longevity of the shoes and once the gemming is broken, it cannot be repaired. Have you got any experience with a failure of the gemming?

  11. Great video, though I was surprised also by the sole gluing…wondering about the differences between the G&G RTW lasts. Do the different lasts have different shapes to fit feet with specific foot shapes (like C&J) or are they basically the same foot shape with just different toe shapes? Also, since the soles look so damn beautifully hand finished with expert craftmanship, it feels a shame to scuff them up by wearing them outdoors…

  12. I have multiple pairs of Gaziano & Girling shoes. The quality is off the chart and they’re as comfortable as slippers. Great video Kirby

  13. Great video – in my opinion G & G are the foremost upmarket shoe manufacturers selling in London right now (have bought John Lobb bespoke and RTW Crockett & Jones but not yet tried Cleverleys). G & G have given both to their RTW and bespoke ranges a degree of elegance and superior quality for men’s business shoes that the others need to catch up with. I’ve just ordered my first pair of G & G bespoke and the care and far greater number of measurements (plus inclusion of a trial shoe to see how your foot affects wear) put my John Lobb (one set of measurements, old fashioned sole appearance, no intermediate fitting, result was a rather unsatisfactory fit for the high price) to shame. G & G also include shoe trees in their RTW and bespoke price, whereas John Lobb charge a staggering £760 extra!

  14. One question, Kirby: these reviews of business and smart casual shoes are all European manufacturers. Aren’t there any American ones working at the same level?

  15. Hi Kirby, great video. Liked the music in this video. Tell who the performer is. Thank you.

  16. Bullshit that's not bespoke,they are completely factory made,absolutely nothing bespoke,people use that word too liberaly

  17. Wish I could find a discount code for some RTW GG. I’m looking to pick up a pair of the black Sinatra’s to wear at my wedding with a midnight blue bespoke tuxedo

  18. I bet the guy doing all the talking hasn't got the skill or ability to actually carry out any of the procedures he's talking about,he just owns the factory.he definitely ain't a craftsman.

  19. I worked in the shoe industry with Italians .its nice to see still people love the quality and handmade shoes on this days . Great ? job with the videos

  20. These are not "Bespoke Shoes"
    Bespoke shoes are shoes made especially for a certain customer by a shoemaker. The feet are measured and a last for each foot is created. At the fitting, the customer tries the prototype pair of shoes made in an inexpensive leather and the shoemaker checks if anything needs to be changed. If so, the changes are applied to the lasts and the shoes are created with a precious leather. After the final lasts are created, the customer can order more pairs of shoes without more measurements and fittings.

  21. Kirby, you've created some nice content. Yet for some reason you've decided to act like a typical American douche. At one point it's clear that your chewing gum. And at no point are you engaged in a meaningful way. Just awful.

  22. People are complaining that this isn't bespoke, but as far as I can tell, all they're saying is that they use procedures and materials from bespoke makers to improve their product.

  23. I felt the video lacked one thing- it did not feature the word "bespoke" enough times I felt it needed another half dozen or so mentions. The same goes for the comment section. Any comment that does not have at least a 1:10 ration of bespoke to other words should be deleted.

  24. Not Bespoke …Though more than close enough for me.. (Some of a collection of my shoes.) Im good with the process!

  25. … gemming …… bad …..…….. in the lasting room you can see the worker handling a shoe with gemming attached to the insole ….

  26. By far the best video I've come across that explains the craftsmanship and process behind creating truly great quality men's dress shoes.

  27. I thought 'bespoke' meant custom made (after a customers request)?
    Guess what he means is 'bespoke-style' but ready to wear?

  28. I am wondering how much the workers got paid end of the month? Bespoken Shoemakers are terrible paid, the salaries can hardly feed a family.

  29. Omg lol you can't custom which is what bespoke mean in a commercial set sizes. Gosh y'all sound dumb. Also the clicker is referring to the hydraulic press that clicks when they cut leather out with cut dies.

  30. I really like how many times you two say the word bespoke when their shoes have nothing to do with bespoke. Bespoke is all in the custom fit of the shoe to the user, which you will not get in a factory without a fitting session.

  31. This video, and many others by Kirby have made me appreciate more and more the foot ware that I buy. Very educational, thanks as always.

  32. I wear a size 14 and wish they made mens heels more like a low cut western boot. I wish they had something custom like this in Chicago so I could get a properly arched shoe. Not enough bespoke anything left in the world.

  33. First class process. Thanks so much for this informative video. I was so inspired. The high school I attended in Indianapolis was the only one who had a cobbler class degree . Hind sight can see so much clearer. 🙂 Now I am just re-newing Allen Edmonds and Vtg. Florsheim Imperials etc. Enjoy the Hanger Project.

  34. @1:36 "We wanted to bring a bespoke shoe to the market as a ready-made product."

    If words still have meaning, that sentence doesn't.

  35. Wow! Simply amazing G&G factory video! I've had the pleasure of connecting with Tony by email via Hugo Jacomet about the "Holden" model. This video gives a clearer understanding of the hand work and craftsmanship that goes into making G&G shoes! Thanks!

  36. Kirby,
    You should check out undandy custom shoes.
    The bespoke shoes you show are formed specific to your foot anatomy. But they lack the ability to customize any parts of the shoe. At undandy, you can do a full customization on a pair of dress shoes (oxfords, loafers, derby’s, monk strap, boots) for around 200$. From the vide, you mentioned you spent over 2 thousand dollars on 1 pair of dress shoes. A video of you reviewing undandys inexspensive bespoke alternative shoes would be a cool idea for a video.

    Great video by the way Kirby,

  37. Mr. Allison's host obviously cares about his appearance…he's wearing a nice and well fitted suit with a vest.
    ……bizarre that he didn't invest about $250 USD in getting his discolored lower tooth bonded.
    A family member or close friend needs to impart some tough love
    …in the long run, his improved image, due to improved self care, will benefit his brand.

  38. have to admit in the title at first glance my mind said WHAT IS GIRLING? ha i have a wife and 4 daughters and never heard of girling ha ha

  39. I hope that this kind of process is never lost. I appreciate you bringing this to the tube so I can better understand how quality shoes are made. Nike's are nice but fleeting and generally ridiculous. I would literally cry if I couldn't buy a well-constructed leather sole shoe by a skilled craftsperson. Again, I hope I expire before this becomes a lost art.

  40. Kirby Allison has taken a special spirit and is reintroducing being a gentleman an important experience to every man. The head of the round table.

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