Components & Construction
Toe cup reinforcement, heel counter: Made of hardened paper & cotton. They give the heel & toe structure in accordance with the shape of the last. In addition, they protect the heel and toe from any impact. The heel counter creates a cup like a grip that secures the heel in the shoe, preventing movement within the heel.
Goodyear welt stitching: The thick special thread sews (stitches) together the insole, midsole, & welt.
Rapid stitch: Another special thick thread that brings everything together: insole, midsole, welt, & outsole.
In Goodyear welt construction, welt is a strip of leather which runs along the perimeter of the outsole. It’s primary function is to attach the upper to the outsole.
Same construction as regular welt. It has a “wall”. Aptly named, it offers greater moisture protection than a regular welt. Storm welt comes in 2 different shapes: rounded & straight.
In better-made Goodyear welt construction, cork is used as a filler between the insole & outsole in the space provided by the welt (about 3-4mm deep). Cork is lightweight, form-fitting, elastic, and buoyant. It forms into the shape of the foot and provides not only proper weight distribution, but additional shock absorption.
In a boot or shoe, the midsole - also called a “shank”, is a part of the supportive structure between the insole and outsole. The presence of a midsole is crucial to the functionality of the shoe, as they diminish the load incurred by the wearer’s feet and calves over time.
In Goodyear welt construction, the midsole has a “lip” or a “wall”. During welting, a special thread is sewn through the welt, the upper and the midsole’s “lip”. Our customer-made midsole is made of very dense cotton and hardened wood. This combination of materials is custom made to ensure that in spite of the midsole’s hardness, it is still flexible enough to bend along with the foot with each step. Our steep shank will ensure that the midsole will hold its shape. Therefore, the boot will always keep its shape & will not “sag” with wear.
Goodyear welt construction starts with nailing the midsole to the last & upper (called lasting). This process can only be done by hand and by the hands of an expert. The lasting process is the most important & crucial stage of Goodyear welt. Pulling the leather too much or too little can result in future problems with the boot. Furthermore, stitching the welt to the upper & sole can not be smooth, resulting in separating the upper from the sole. Our “lasting” artisan, Arturo Araujo, as been at the same craft for 20+ years. Watching him at his work is truly captivating.
[Video: Fitting Alder on Last]
Full rubber soles are too casual and not flexible. Full leather soles scuff with wear and don’t have traction. Natural rubber inserted in the middle where the ball of the foot is, ensures flexibility in bending the foot while taking a step. In addition, it offers traction and avoids scuffing the sole. The process of rubber insert is expensive & time consuming. Both the placement of the rubber & the depth of the indentation of the leather sole must be very precise within millimeters. Natural rubber offers more shock absorbance than synthetic rubber. We use very high density leather for our heels. In addition, we put the heels through an extended compacting process to ensure the heel is more dense, therefore, more durable.
Next to leather, the last is the most important factor in Sutro. Many months, sometimes more than a year, and countless trials are necessary to finalize a single last. Our goal is to make anatomic lasts that follow the shape of the foot. The final result has to feel comfortable and look sleek. We add a slight “stomach” to the ball of the last to mimic the human foot. Toe box is just enough room without looking too bulbous or too flat. Ankles are given extra curve to follow the human’s ankle. The heel is not uniform; the outside has more curve than the inside, as is with the human heel. The inside curve on the top of the last is not the same as the outside curve. Extra time and attention is given so that the front (distance from toe to the rise) is maximum, so the front of the shoe looks longer. In contrast to most traditional lasts, where the front is too short. The longer the front, the more sleek the boot looks. The prototype last is sculpted 100% by hand. A skilled master sculpter is the highest paid worker in the shoe manufacturing industry.
One of the reasons the Goodyear welt process is more expensive is due to the time the last process takes. Each shoe must be on the last for at least 96 hours, compared to cemented where the shoes do not need to be on the last for more than 8 hours.
Leather takes center stage at Sutro. Since our direction is clean lines, all the focus is placed on quality. We use premium, full-grain leather from North America. We use small US farms where cows roam free. Often times, the marks on the leather are the results of the natural events that occurred during the life of the animal (ie, birthmarks and insect bites). We stay away from any tanning process (ie, Chromexcel) that covers the natural look of the leather and uses extra chemicals to create smoothness and produce uniformity. Our approach is to highlight the timeless beauty of natural leather. This is what sets our product apart and adds a level of value to our shoes. For more information regarding our leather, please check out our video highlighting the leather process.
We only use natural, vegetal ingredients to cream our leathers (ie, beeswax)