Shoemakers use a range of construction methods to attach the sole to the upper. Over the years, a number of different shoemaking construction methods have been developed. At Hanwag, we make our footwear in three different ways. Since 1921, we’ve been producing our footwear by using the double-stitched method, the most traditional one, which only a very few shoemakers are still capable of. Over the years, the cemented method came along and now innovative direct injection technology (where the sole is attached directly). All Hanwag cemented or double-stitched models can be resoled. We’re delighted that footwear that’s been broken in and loved by wearers for decades can be resoled.
At Hanwag, most of our footwear is cemented.
The cemented construction is a complex and time-consuming method where the upper is moulded and stretched over the last and attached (lasted) to the insole to form a unit. The upper and insole are then cemented with adhesive under high pressure. Subsequently, the midsole and outsole are added. This method offers the best combination of durability, high performance and economic viability. The main advantages of cement lasted footwear are their outstanding ability to keep their shape and their superior durability – providing they are properly cared for. The only disadvantage of cement lasting is that the complex production process makes the footwear slightly more expensive. Though, if the outsole wears out, it’s no problem to replace it. We do that at Hanwag ourselves. Lots of customers are happy to use this service, after all, their boots have been broken in and are comfy. It’s a popular service, after all, these boots are perfectly worn in; people don’t want to replace them. In fact, they’re often long-standing companions and the source of many happy memories. We often receive boots to be resoled that have seen years and years of use. It’s something that makes us proud of our work.
We’ve been making hard-wearing, double-stitched leather boots for over 100 years.
We are proud to say that we are one of the few remaining bootmakers still able to master this traditional and demanding handcrafted technique. First, we punch out the insole (the foundation or heart of the shoe that can’t be seen from the outside) and tack it to the last. Then we introduce the first row of stitching. This stitching connects the leather upper and the lining to the insole rib (a rib or lip on the insole used to stitch it to the lasted upper). Once this first row of stitching is completed, we turn the upper outwards. We bend the leather upper and lining at a right angle to produce a projecting rim (flange) that lays flat on the midsole. This is called outflanging. On certain models a reinforcing strip (aka welt) is also added to the side of the boot at this point. Next, we trim any excess material from the heel, toe cap and the lining. The remaining flange, i.e. the turned-out leather upper, is then secured to the midsole with a second row of stitching. This second row of stitching (hence double stitching) joins the leather upper, reinforcing welt (if applicable) and midsole. So, the finished boot has an upper that is secured by two strong rows of stitching. This is what we mean by genuine double stitching.
At Hanwag, we’ve also been using a third method for some time now.
Our latest production method is called direct injection technology. This process involves injecting a polyurethane (PU) midsole between the outsole and boot’s shaft. This method makes the boot incredibly lightweight and the special midsole exceptionally comfortable for feet. It’s all possible thanks to high-tech machines, developed by a specialist German company called DESMA.
The machines inject a midsole made of two layers of different polyurethane in one single step. However, making a HANWAG boot using direct injection technology does require proper craftspeople too. The leather and/or fabric shaft is fashioned by hand. A boot passes through lots of hands before it lands on shop shelves: from inserting the lasts to adding the finishing touches to the sole to checking the quality and packaging the footwear.