At HANWAG, cemented construction is used to make all boots and 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, downwards over the insole and affixing this to create a unit. The midsole and outsole are then applied.
The key advantages of cemented construction 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. As craftsmen, that's something we’re very proud of. That's what we call quality.
Find out more in the below interview with our shoe developer, Johann Friedl.
Friedl knows everything there is to know about bootmaking. His full name is Johann Friedl, but at Hanwag everyone just calls him Friedl. He comes from Austria and he's been with us as a footwear developer since 2009.
What does it mean if a shoe has a cemented construction?
JF: Shoemakers use a range of construction methods to attach the sole to the upper. Different techniques have been developed over the years. When it comes to high-quality trekking and mountain boots, there are only two methods that are robust enough: double stitching and cemented construction. In a cemented construction, the upper is worked over the insole and then the sole is attached with adhesive (cement) under high pressure. It’s also known as a ‘stuck-on construction’. It offers the best compromise between durability, performance and economic viability.
So what are the advantages and advantages of the cemented construction?
JF: The cemented construction is a traditional handcrafted technique and is relatively time-consuming. However, its advantages are significant. Firstly, cemented footwear lasts a long time. This also applies to low-cut shoes. Secondly, it keeps its shape and won’t deform. Thirdly, it can be resoled. This is good for your wallet and the environment too. We often receive footwear for resoling. The disadvantages are that it’s more expensive and slightly heavier.
What other construction methods are there?
JF: There are a few to choose from. Most footwear nowadays is made with a Strobel construction. It’s quicker and less expensive. The insole is stitched to the upper using an over-lock, chainstitch seam. The sole unit is then applied using glue or injection moulding. The Strobel-stitched construction is ideal for flexible footwear, but it is less robust. These boots and shoes tend to deform more quickly – and they cannot be resoled. The Strobel construction is not suitable for alpine, trekking or hiking footwear. At HANWAG, we do not use the Strobel construction (except for three children’s models).
When should I choose footwear made with a Strobel construction?
JF: They are good as running shoes or footwear for everyday use. But in the mountains, they are just not suitable because they don't provide sufficient stability and rigidity.
What about double-stitched boots?
JF: Now we are talking premium quality. Double-stitched boots last even longer than boots made with a cemented construction. However, they are more difficult to make and more expensive as a result.
Is it possible to tell them apart if you are not a shoemaker?
JF: Yes. Remove the footbed and have a look inside. Footwear made with a Strobel construction is easy to spot – you’ll see the stitching that attaches the insole to the upper. When you look inside cemented construction footwear there is no stitching under the footbed. You’ll only see the insole or at the very most the steel pins from the lasting. Double-stitched footwear is easier to recognise thanks to the two visible seams on the outside (double stitching) that secure the upper to the bottom of the boot.
How to tell the difference – take the footbed out and have a look underneath. 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.