July 05, 2021

Behind the Scenes: How Our Sustainable Children's Footwear is Made

Behind the Scenes: How Our Sustainable Children's Footwear is Made

The Petit Vagabond is full of surprises. Not only is it crafted from Cactus Leather, making it partially biodegradable and a great deal more sustainable than traditional leather boots, the Petit Vagabond style is a Goodyear Welted shoe, finishing it off as an item of heritage quality. 

As you may know, a Goodyear Welt is a specific method of welting the uppers to a shoe. This is performed by a strip of leather that is sewn around the bottom edge of a shoe, attached to both the insole and the upper. The welt can then be easily unstitched, which thus detaches the sole without damaging the rest of the shoe, meaning it can be replaced time and time again as it is worn down. In our case, we use a strip of specialised rubber welt instead of the leather. This type of construction has many advantages: a Goodyear Welted shoe is flexible, comfortable, durable and often more breathable than the average shoe. In addition, the welt enables shoes to be repaired over and over again, allowing each child they are passed down to to build up the highly desirable patina of a well-worn shoe over the years.

The Goodyear Welt method of craftsmanship dates back to 1869, when the machinery used to produce it was invented by Charles Goodyear Jr., and incorporates more than 200 steps, most of which are completed by hand, resulting in a pair of incredibly high quality shoes.

There are several different techniques for making children’s shoes, consisting of the Stitchdown method, Cemented, Side Wall Stitched, Blake / Blake Rapid and the Goodyear Welt method, which is a far more superior method, but also much more timely. Compared to the Goodyear welt construction, the other mentioned methods are less expensive methods of sewing shoes together that are predominantly used in Italy. Blake, for example, simply has a leather sole and no cork which makes the soles thinner, more flexible but also less comfortable to stand on. Moreover, the soles are more prone to get wet with these less superior methods of construction. 

The Goodyear Welt is a superior shoe construction method to Stitchdown, Cemented, Side Wall Stitched and Blake / Blake Rapid because it keeps your child’s feet much more dry and are ultimately more comfortable to walk in. On top of that, it can be repaired easily, whereas other construction techniques are much more difficult to repair and re-sole.

Overall, this is a fascinating technique that has been around for approximately 150 years. Today, with so many other construction methods on the market, only higher quality shoes still carry this kind of quality construction, and this is generally reflected in the product price.