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How Shoes Are Made: The 4 Step Process

Back in the day before the Industrial Revolution, shoemaking was a highly specialized task that could only be performed by a cobbler.

How Shoes Are Made: The 4 Step Process

Today, shoes are made in factories, not shops, and the whole process has been streamlined to make mass production much easier. Though every manufacturer has a slightly different process for making shoes, all of them follow the same four basic steps.

Step One: Shoe Design

The first step in Custom shoe manufacturing doesn’t happen on the factory floor. It occurs when a shoemaker or an inventor has a brilliant idea for a new product and creates a prototype.

The aspiring shoemaker provides initial sketches from multiple angles to a prototyping company, and the company’s in-house design team comes up with a refined prototype that looks just like the real thing.

One such leading sports shoe maker is “Loom Footwear” which not only designs in-house but also manufactures the best waterproof shoes for men & women by using breathable knit material that absorbs moisture and is extremely comfortable due to improved cushioning. You can now choose from waterproof sneakers for men to vegan shoes for women in different color combinations and sizes.

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Once a designer has a prototype in hand, he or she can reach out to shoe manufacturers. The prototype itself doesn’t have to be true to form. It just has to look like the final product, which will then be made using the materials of the designer’s choice.

Step Two: Making a Last

Before a new line of shoes goes into production, the manufacturing company will make a last. Shoe lasts are molds that emulate real human feet, and their purpose is to give the shoes their shape.

Traditional lasts were made of wood, but now metal and plastic are more popular alternatives.

Today’s lasts aren’t just vaguely foot-shaped chunks of hard material. Last makers must consider everything from how a person’s foot rolls when he or she walks to how much space inside the shoe will accommodate each part of the foot.

These considerations affect things like the shoe’s heel height and shape.

Step Three: Creating the Parts

One modern shoe might contain as many as several hundred parts. At this point in the manufacturing process, the future shoes are referred to as shafts.

For custom shoes, these parts are usually cut from high-quality leather then stamped to avoid confusion among the sewers.

Stamping allows shoemakers to indicate what pieces go wherein the final product and whether there need to be eyelets punched or perforated accents added.

The parts of the shaft will then be stitched together before they are sent to the sewing department.

Step Four: Assembly

Once the sewing team stitches the pieces of the shaft together, the shoe can be sent to the assembly department. There are two popular methods for custom footwear assembly: Goodyear welting and the Blake method.

Goodyear welting is a traditional process that dates back to the late 19th century. Shoemakers temporarily attach the insoles to the shoe lasts using three nails, then fix a rubber ridge to the insole.

The shaft can then be laced and fitted, and the insole attached using nails and hot glue.

The shoe then sits in the last for up to a fortnight to ensure that the leather can cure to the right fit before the welt is added to the insole and lining. It will be stitched into place with a Goodyear stitching machine to ensure proper precision.

The Blake method involves using a Langhorn sewing machine to attach each layer of the shoe to its nearby parts without welts. Though this method can make for a more comfortable shoe, the final product won’t be as weather-resistant or durable.

The End Result

No matter what assembly method shoemakers use, the result will be the same. The designer will receive an initial run of his or her new footwear product, and it will look just like the prototype.


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