How Shoes Are Made — What Happens Before They Hit The Shelves Of Our Los Angeles Shoe Store
Posted on March 10 2019
Shoes are something that we all have but seldom think about — aside from the fact that we care how they look. In fact, you probably don’t know what goes into manufacturing that pair of Nike Air Force Ones or Air Max 95s that you have on as you read this. Below, we have made a very brief outline of the shoe-making process.
Building The LAST - Before the shoe can be created, a form must first be created in the shape of a foot to build the shoe design on. Lasts resemble a simple shoe tree that you use to store and clean your sneakers and can be made using metal, plastic, wood, or any other form-holding material. Not only does the LAST provide a surface for the shoe materials to eventually be placed on, but it also holds the form of the foot during the process — ensuring that the materials are properly assembled.
Developing The Shell Pattern - Like any product, a prototype pattern must be developed. Commonly known as a shell pattern in the industry, the designer will hand-make each individual piece of the shoe. This is later mass-produced by programmable tech once the pattern has been finalized. It is often assumed that the shoe industry is all mechanical, when in reality the shoe-making process is still very reliant on human-powered production. Another example of man-powered shoe manufacturing can be found in the stitching process.
The Stitching - People often think that machines do everything in the manufacturing process, but in reality, it is the stitching department, a team of experienced workers that stitch the machined parts of the shoes together. After the shoe materials have been stitched together, the shoe must be lasted.
Lasting - Lasting is the process of turning the floppy materials into a freestanding and self-supporting form. After the shoe is placed on a form, it is cemented, heated, and tightened to prepare it for the outsole. Once the lasting process is complete there is only one thing left to be done — outsole assembly.
Outsole Installation - The last step is the creation of the outsole. To attach the outsole of the shoe, a worker will vulcanize, nail, cement, or sew the sole to the cloth form of the shoe. Once this is complete, quality control operators inspect it and give it the thumbs up for boxing.
The Unboxing - While it is not a part of the manufacturing process, the unboxing process is important — mainly because you get to see your new sneakers, and because you will never see your shoes as clean as they are in the box ever again.
From The Factory To Your Doorstep
Shoe manufacturing is usually one of those things that are “out of sight, out of mind,” because people care more about getting new shoes than they care about where they come from. We hope that the above information provided you with some insight as to how your shoes go from being a pile of materials to a stylish and functional fashion accessory. Stop by our Los Angeles shoe store today to find your next favorite pair of shoes.