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Goodyear welted shoes: these soles are too damn hard!

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Hello. I have two pairs off goodyear welted shoes, Loake 1880 Hyde (dainite rubber outsole) and a black Meermin derby (leather outsole) I have the same problem with both, the insoles are very hard and walking in them destroys my heels.
I do not have this problem with my cemented leather shoes with various synthetic foams. I've walked in both quite alot, i'd estimate at least 12 hours and I can feel that the insoles are very much conformed to my foot.
The usual culprits off walk-in, like hard leather digging into my toes when I bend my foot, are long gone. The problem is lack off shock absorbtion and just plain hardness (standing barefoot on a rug is more comfortable than on a hard floor)

Can I expect this to get better over time? If not, what should I do? Add a synthetic insole? Can a cobbler give me a cushiony heel? Does another brand off outsole have better shock absorbtion?

I might add that I carry alot off weight (140 kilos) so me having this problem unlike you may not be a surprise.
 

TBY

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Yes, it should get better. Having said that, goodyear welted will tend to be firmer and harder-wearing than other construction methods - Blake for instance.
 

FlyingHorker

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Yes, it should get better. Having said that, goodyear welted will tend to be firmer and harder-wearing than other construction methods - Blake for instance.
I find Blake to work just fine.

I have a pair of Blake chelsea boots with a dainite-esque sole, and it was comfortable right away, as opposed to GYW's break in times.

No issues with wet insoles due to the outsole either.
 

TBY

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I find Blake to work just fine.

I have a pair of Blake chelsea boots with a dainite-esque sole, and it was comfortable right away, as opposed to GYW's break in times.

No issues with wet insoles due to the outsole either.
In my experience, it depends on climate and how much wear you put them through. For instance, I have penny loafers which I tend only to wear in spring and summer and Blake-stitching works well. However, I have Oxfords which I wear for four seasons in both Goodyear Welt and Blake and the Goodyear hold up far better.

Having said that, I could put my liking for leather-soled shoes to one side and have more rubber pairs in rotation for those horrible wet days.
 

Steepleman

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I think it has a lot to do with cut and fitting. I have a pair of Cheaney(?) boots Goodyear Welted and they were comfortable from the start. Same with R. M. Williams boots.
 

willyto

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Meermin has a very tough breaking in period regardless of your weight. For real, they're a pain to break in, specially the counter heel. What you want to do to prevent any damage to your feet is wear some bandaid over your heel area so it doesn't hurt.

Is it practical? No, but it's your only choice if otherwise the shoes fit well.
 

Phileas Fogg

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You can get an off the shelf heel cushion for the time being.

All GYW shoes will require some break in period. Even more so if the shoes are double soled. Not sure if your shoes are.

At some point you’ll have to decide whether such shoe construction is right for you. As mentioned above, Blake construction is an option as well.
 
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Thanks for the replies guys! I appreciate all help.

Regarding size:
the Loakes run a bit large, especially in the heel area.
The meermins were too small at first. Thankfully they stretched out using oversized shoe trees & mouisturizer and the size is now good. Very, very snug but in a comfortable way.

If it gets better with more break in, how long should it take for the insoles to get softer? 30 hours walking? 40?

Meermin has a very tough breaking in period regardless of your weight. For real, they're a pain to break in, specially the counter heel. What you want to do to prevent any damage to your feet is wear some bandaid over your heel area so it doesn't hurt.

Is it practical? No, but it's your only choice if otherwise the shoes fit well.
Yes, they were very painful in every way the first 6 hours. Thankfully most of it went away within that time period, the only problem left is lack of shock absorbtion.
How long can I expect it to take to break in the counter heel? It gets softer?

At some point you’ll have to decide whether such shoe construction is right for you. As mentioned above, Blake construction is an option as well.
Blake construction is not really an option (except for an occassional summer shoe) since I live in west sweden, where it rains alot. Water resistance is a must.
Also, shouldn't the lack of cork make shock absorbtion even worse?

I will most likely end up getting off the shelf heel cushioning or insole that you add in the shoe. The meermins are so snug I doubt it will fit. I think I will ask my cobbler if he can change the heel, insole or replace the cork with something else as I need to get them resoled anyway. The Loake's will fit them.
Feedback/advice is still appreciated in case someone has a better idea(s)
 
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Neo1

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Thanks for the replies guys! I appreciate all help.

Regarding size:
the Loakes run a bit large, especially in the heel area.
The meermins were too small at first. Thankfully they stretched out using oversized shoe trees & mouisturizer and the size is now good. Very, very snug but in a comfortable way.

If it gets better with more break in, how long should it take for the insoles to get softer? 30 hours walking? 40?


Yes, they were very painful in every way the first 6 hours. Thankfully most of it went away within that time period, the only problem left is lack of shock absorbtion.
How long can I expect it to take to break in the counter heel? It gets softer?


Blake construction is not really an option (except for an occassional summer shoe) since I live in west sweden, where it rains alot. Water resistance is a must.
Also, shouldn't the lack of cork make shock absorbtion even worse?

I will most likely end up getting off the shelf heel cushioning or insole that you add in the shoe. The meermins are so snug I doubt it will fit. I think I will ask my cobbler if he can change the heel, insole or replace the cork with something else as I need to get them resoled anyway.
Feedback/advice is still appreciated in case someone has a better idea(s)
I've had issues similar to what you described with some of the shoes I own. Granted, I'm fine with hard, unpadded pure leather insoles (or more like lack of padding insoles) so that's never bothered me. The hard, stiff heel counters...that's another matter altogether.

I've been trying hard to figure out what accounts for this and what I've come up with is a very rigid, inflexible outsole combined with a stiff, unpadded heel (inside the shoe, not outside). I initially suspected a it was worse with a wider heel than a narrower one but it doesn't seem to make much of a difference. So far the only remedy I've found was to just keep wearing them and doing as much walking around as possible, allowing them to bend and flex naturally. Like you said, if they fit correctly it's doubtful you'd be able to add an insert due to insufficient volume. Where would I be expected to avoid these heelcup issues? I'd say any style with thinner, more flexible butyl outsoles, styles with unlined, softer suedes or grain leathers, basically anything that allows for a lot of flexibility out of the box. Someone mentioned blake stitched stuff earlier - I agree with him, but like yourself I'm not a fan either.

Edit - I guess I'll also add that styles lined with poron or other padding seem to be easier as well.
 
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My only problem is the hardness. The inflexibility isn't a huge issue for me, and I also trust that it will get better over time. I also get pain in my front feet.

I ordered an insole with poron and polyurethane for my Loakes. Hopefully it won't flop around in the shoe, otherwise I'll have to glue it.

If the cobbler can't do anything about the Meermins I'll have to simply live with it. It's primarily for suit events anyway.

I'll make sure never to buy shoes without synthetic cushioning again. I should've bought Thursday boots. I'll buy from them next time, hopefully they will have expanded to Europe by then.
 

FlyingHorker

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In my experience, it depends on climate and how much wear you put them through. For instance, I have penny loafers which I tend only to wear in spring and summer and Blake-stitching works well. However, I have Oxfords which I wear for four seasons in both Goodyear Welt and Blake and the Goodyear hold up far better.

Having said that, I could put my liking for leather-soled shoes to one side and have more rubber pairs in rotation for those horrible wet days.
I've been looking for loafers in blake construction, a lot of them seem to have dumpy shapes to them, you know of any good ones?

Leather wears out pretty quick I find, I always add topies/sole protectors to mine, they're not very grippy either.
 
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How long does one estimate it takes to walk in shoes with leather & cork insoles? DOES the material get softer, and within what timespan? How many hours of walking?
 

wurger

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How long does one estimate it takes to walk in shoes with leather & cork insoles? DOES the material get softer, and within what timespan? How many hours of walking?
break in takes around 24 hours, so that's 3 wearings if you do an 8 hr day. Matertials don't get much softer, but there will be a footbed formed. It takes a bit of getting used if you only wear foam insoles your whole life.
 
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Thanks for the reply, then I know they're fully walked in. I'll have to rely on the insoles I've ordered and hope they fit.

I'd rather not get used to daily, handicapping pain.
 

DWFII

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If you're used to foam insoles, chances are that you're feet will never be comfortable in a 'better' shoe...more specifically in shoes with paper or leatherboard insoles (most GY)...or even leather insoles. Neither paper nor leatherboard will ever really make a footbed. Simply because neither are compressible or expandable to any significant degree. And while leather insoles do make a footbed, the foot never evolved to have the 'coddling' of foam rubber under it. Muscles and 'padding' develop under the foot (the plantar aspect) only with exercise and necessity.

Fundamentally, it's not the shoes that need to break in so much as your feet.

Beyond that, nine times out of ten with GY welted shoes...or 'cheaper' methods of construction...cheaper materials tend to prevail in all aspects of construction. The upshot of that is simply that hard leather heel stiffeners (or toe stiffeners) are not hard leather at all but are actually most likely celastic...which is a form of cellulose reinforced plastic--no give, no moulding to the foot, etc... Leather will open up and soften with flexion--it really is an amazing material in so many ways that synthetics cannot emulate.

That said, when I first started wearing men's shoes (as opposed to boots) I had terrible blisters on my heel. Just took time to get my feet used to the pressure of the stiffener.

Finally, given a good fit and a well designed last (by no means guaranteed in either respect) some people just have feet that are never comfortable esp. when it comes to the plantar surface. Maybe 'too little meat on your feet'.
 
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