The price tag associated with quality dress shoes is quantifiably justified by two features: the materials and the construction. Raw material is relatively simple to wrap your head around: the better the leather and tanning method, the higher the price. Top-grade leather is typically sourced from tanneries in Italy, England or the United States. Construction methods are slightly more nuanced. There is a wide variety of upper styles, and two types of high-end welt stitching. Though upper construction is largely an exercise in aesthetics, the welt stitching of a shoe is grounded in function, binding the upper of the shoe to the outsole.
The Goodyear welt and the Blake stitch are the two superior shoe constructions. More budget shoes utilize adhesives to bind the upper to the outsole, but Goodyear welts and Blake stitching sew the components of the shoe together, making for a more durable shoe that can be re-soled. Goodyear welts are more labor intensive than Blake stitching — the welt, upper, and insole are sewn together, and then the welt is sewn to the outsole — and produce a stiffer, more robust shoe. Blake stitching, on the other hand, has no exterior stitches — the outsole, insole and upper and stitched together with a single stitch — producing a more flexible, sleeker shoe.
One of the assets of Blake construction is that the sole can be cut closer to the upper of the sole, creating a slimmer silhouette. Capitalizing on this svelte quality, Paul Evans uses Blake construction in a range of their Italian dress shoes including the Martin Wholecut, the Brando Semi-Brogue Oxford, the Newman Chukka Boot, the Cagney Cap-Toe Oxford, the Stewart Penny Loafer and the Poitier Double Monk Strap. The superior construction and beautiful design comes at a price, but Paul Evans still offers a 60 percent lower price than shoes with the same Blake stitching from more traditional companies. Go with Paul Evans, and your shoes get the best construction, top-quality leather and beautiful design at a fraction of the industry-standard price.