The Rancourt & Co. shoe portfolio has been expanding beyond just loafers and blucher mocs recently. I’ve noticed a few interesting new styles have been popping up on the company Instagram and other social channels as of late. Intrigued, I reached out to Kyle Rancourt to find out more. Eventually this lead to a preview box of nine pairs of the Maine maker’s new styles —all made with a Blake welt construction—showing up at my office. They are great shoes, I didn’t get to keep any but getting a closer looked sparked this post to find out more about Rancourt’s new Blake shoes. These are their stories.
Part of this new crop of Blake styles is Hamilton boot, which is more traditional dress boot —as opposed to the handsewn styled moc toe shapes that Rancourt has become known for— made with the Blake welt process. If you like the shape but wanted something sightly different from what is seen here, Rancourt can also do custom orders of styles like these with the outsole and leather of your choosing. More on the Blake welting process and it’s similarity to Goodyear welting below.
The Blake process as explained by Kyle Rancourt:
Named after the man who invented the McKay sole stitching machine, Lyman Reed Blake. He sold the patent to the McKay company and thus the machine is called the McKay sole stitching machine, but the process was developed by Blake.
The entire process, up until the bottoming process, is very similar to a Goodyear Welt. The uppers are machine lasted using the same type of toe and heel lasting machines. The biggest difference is that a Goodyear welt is lasted to an innersole that has a rib attached to it. This rib is used later when the welt is stitched into the rib. The rib tends to make the innersole a bit more rigid.
We last the uppers to an innersole with no rib and then we stitch a mid-sole through the bottom of the innersole. All Blake shoes will have a single row of stitching inside of the shoes. We wrap our innersoles with leather lining.
The McKay machine stitches from the inside of the shoe. This is the machine used to attach the mid-sole. If the out-sole can be stitched on, as opposed to Vibram soles which are only cemented on, we use a high-speed welt stitching machine that stitches from the outside. Again, it’s the same type of machine Alden uses. Most rubber soles get cemented and permanently bonded to the mid-sole. Later we can cut the midsole off and replace it with another sole. All Blake shoes can be re-soled. The final step is to inset a ¾ length sockliner to cover the stitching inside, in this way it’s very much like a handsewn. In fact, the bottoming process is exactly like a handsewn, that’s what made it a good fit for us.
We are in the development process on plain toe bluchers and wing tips. We want to offer proper dress shoes in addition to the traditional handsewn shoes that people have come to know from Rancourt & Co.
More details about making Blake welted shoes in video format for your viewing pleasure.