Double-stitched, cemented  & Co

There are many ways of making footwear. But there are only two ways of making truly robust and durable footwear: the double-stitched and cemented technique. And it’s for this very reason that we at HANWAG picked them. As a result, we’re the only German manufacturer of alpine and trekking footwear that cements all its products or uses the age-old art of double stitching. We're also maintaining a traditional craft that is only still mastered by a very few shoemakers.

 How to tell the difference?  Take the footbed out and have a look underneath: 


Cemented Construction

Strobel Construction

Double-stitched Construction

With the cemented construction you’ll see the insole, but no stitching. 

The chainstitch Strobel seam connecting the upperand the insole is easy to spot. Good for trainers or sneakers. Not suitable for outdoor footwear.

Double-stitched footwear: easily recognised by the double row of stitching on the outside. This demanding, hand-crafted technique is extremely robust.


Cemented construction

At HANWAG cemented construction is used to make all shoes (except three children’s shoe models) that are not double-stitched in the traditional manner. This sophisticated and time-consuming technique involves the shoemaker pulling the shaft over the last and downwards over the insole and affixing this to create a unit. The midsole and outsole are then applied.

The key advantages of cemented shoes are that they keep their shape and last a long time if cared for properly. We’re probably the only manufacturer worldwide that cements all its low-cut shoes. The disadvantage of the cementing technique is that it’s time-consuming to produce, making the footwear slightly more expensive.

If the outsole is torn, the footwear can easily be resoled. At HANWAG in Vierkirchen we do that ourselves. Many customers welcome this service because after all their shoes have now been broken in perfectly. And fantastic memories are often attached to the footwear. We often receive footwear for resoling that has been going strong for decades. And as craftsmen that's something we feel pretty proud of. That's what we call quality. 

Find out more in the interiew with our shoe developer, Johann Friedl.


Strobel construction

The Strobel construction is less expensive, but not as tough as the cemented construction. Named after its inventor, the Strobel seam is used sew the insole to the shaft. The sole unit is then applied by injection moulding.

This technique is mainly used for running shoes and trainers as these have to be very flexible. The Strobel construction is not suitable for alpine, trekking or walking boots because the stability and rigidity aren’t sufficient. HANWAG doesn’t use the Strobel method for any of its boots or shoes. Footwear made with a Strobel construction  (in English also referred to as an injection moulded sole) is obvious if you take out the insole which reveals the Strobel seam from the insole to the shaft.


Genuine double-stitched

Double-stitching isn’t new – in fact quite the opposite. For over 90 years we’ve been making robust leather boots using the genuine double-stitching technique. We’re one of the few shoemakers who still master this traditional and sophisticated technique today.  

First we cut out the insole (commonly referred to as the heart of the shoe because it can't be seen from the outside later on) and then tack it to the last. Then we apply the first row of stitching. We sew the leather upper and the lining to the insole rib (a raised section at the edge of the insole). Once this seam is completed we turn up the upper. In other words, we bend the leather upper and lining at a right angle towards the outside.  On certain models a reinforcing strip is also added. Then we use a sharp tool to trim off any excess material from the heel, toe cap and the lining. The remainder, or in other words the excess leather is then secured with a second row of stitching. It’s now the turn of the second seam. It’s called a double seam and combines the leather upper, reinforcing strip (in some models) and midsole. As a result, the upper is well secured by two seams to the bottom of the shoe. The genuine double-stitched shoe is ready.

That was the genuine method that we only use at HANWAG. Many manufacturers produce footwear using “false” double stitching.  Here’s how they do it. After piercing the material (i.e. the first seam which is identical to the genuine type) not only is the margin removed from the heel, toe cap, and lining, but from the leather upper too. The second row of stitching therefore only passes through the reinforcing strip and the midsole.  This means that the leather upper is not stitched in a second time.

Genuine double stitching is when the edge of the leather upper is visible on the edge of midsole/sole below the reinforcing strip. This isn’t present on footwear with false double stitching.  It disappears inside the shoe instead.

There’s another third type of false double stitching which is even less effective.  This is footwear that initially appears to have double stitching, but which is only cemented if you look more closely. Look carefully and you’ll see that they are flexible boots with a standard sole that has been a double-stitched look.

In the end it’s not about the appearance though. The footwear’s robustness and stability are what count. And this is where these apparently so similar techniques differ substantially. In "false" double-stitched footwear the sewn-on leather upper is missing as a stabilising element – the bottom of the shoe only hangs in the reinforcing strip. The midsole is stuck to the shaft, but one more seam is much stronger than even the best cement. In other words, if the reinforcing strip or double seam breaks, the boot or shoe can’t be repaired.

That's not a path we want to take. Our double-stitching is genuine. And it will stay that way.

In the past, the price for the durability of genuine double-stitched footwear was a certain period of time to wear the boots or shoes in. And this wasn't always a pleasant process. Today, modern foam padding, soft leather linings and craftsmanship ensure that double-stitched footwear requires very little, or sometimes no time to wear in.