Blake welted Scarpe di Bianco monk straps: a timeless experience
In 2009 William White, together with an old colleague from Sutor Mantellassi, founded the shoe brand Scarpe di Bianco. ‘Scarpe’ is Italian for shoes and ‘Bianco’ the name of the founder.
In their workshop near Naples the artisans of Scarpe fabricate a maximum of 25 pairs of shoes because everything is done by hand, including the colouring of the different kinds of leather. Among the famous models of shoes by Scarpe di Bianco are the Brogue, the Monk Strap and the Loafer.
All models are made using one of the following constructions:
Black Rapid, Goodyear, Norwegian, Blake and Bologna (constructed with rubber for flexibility and comfort).
Blake construction is a very popular construction used for better made shoes, especially in Italy. This construction is simpler than a welted construction. A single row of stitching attaches the insole to the upper and the outsole. The stitching is located inside the shoe and done by a machine invented by Reed Blake. The technique is sometimes called McKay construction since Blake sold the patent to Gordon McKay.
Shoes with Blake construction tend to be more flexible than Goodyear welted shoes since they have fewer layers but since there is a row of stitching through the insole the possibility of moisture wicking from the ground is greater.
Contrary to popular belief Blake shoes can be resoled with the use of a Blake soling machine.
Goodyear construction is a welted construction. A rib is created perpendicular to the face of the insole through which twine is stitched. After both the upper and insole are secured to the last, the welt (a third strip of leather) is sewn to the upper and the rib of the insole. A lockstitch is used so that if one stitch comes undone all the stitching does not become unbraided. A second row of stitching is used to connect the other side of the welt to the outsole. The benefits of the Goodyear welted construction are that they are more water-resistant than Blake construction since there are no stitches through the face of the insole. Additionally, a layer of cork fills the space between the ribs on the two sides of the insole. This layer of cork molds to the wearer’s foot and adds comfort to the shoe.
Goodyear welted construction is a favorite of many of the better English shoemakers. Many consumers like the Goodyear construction because of its sturdy design and clean appearance.
Norwegian construction is a welted construction also commonly referred to as Norvegese. Instead of the upper running parallel to the rib in the insole as in Goodyear construction, the upper is turned outward and sits parallel to the outsole. One row of stitching connects the welt to the rib of the insole and another row connects the welt to the outsole. Since the upper is turned outward, Norwegian construction does not allow a way for moisture to enter the shoe by way of the upper / welt stitching.
Norwegian construction is easily identifiable by the stitching along the base of the upper. This construction, like Goodyear, is stiffer than Blake construction. The aesthetic of Norwegian stitching lends itself very well for dress shoes and boots, and adds volume to the shoe resulting in flexibility of wearing with dress as well as more casual attire.
“Suola Due Strati” or Black Rapid in english is a very old construction that arguably offers the best balance between quality and price. Similar in function to Goodyear construction, Black Rapid has two soles which render the shoes very solid yet they are still very elegant and light in weight. Once the shoe is mounted on the last the upper and the first sole are attached by an inner Blake seam, followed by the second sole which is attached by a Rapid seam.
This sturdy construction is more waterproof than the Blake construction thanks to the two sole system. Like welted shoes Black Rapid shoes can also be resoled several times without affecting the shape of the shoe.
Finally another couple of pictures of this fantastic shoe brand which, unfortunately, is at the moment of writing nearly only available in the USA: