Footwear Construction


Footwear construction can get a little bit complicated to the untrained eye. That is why we took the time to break down the anatomy of footwear into the various parts, to help the readers grasp a better understanding of how it is made. This will not only help to educate but make better decisions about how to locate the type of footwear which would meet your needs best.  So let’s get started…

1. The word last comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word “lasest,” which means footprint.
2. The last is where the shoe is born and achieves its character. It largely determines the fit and feel of the shoe and also bears great influence on the shoe’s wear performance (tread, balance, shape holding ability, etc.) It is also responsible for the shoe’s shape, which is a prime fashion factor in its look.
3. From inception through 1960, lasts were made from wood. Since 1960 lasts have been made from plastic because it does not shrink or swell like wood. This produces truer sizes and a more consistent fit.
4. Last technology uses a multitude of measurements in order to balance fit and make consistent adjustments when customizing the last.

The leather is the preferred shoe upper material. The following qualities make it one of the best components for shoe manufacturing:

o Breathability: Pores in leather allow fresh air to circulate inside the shoes.
o Moisture absorbency: Leather absorbs moisture away from the foot and out of the shoe.


















o Customization: Leather will assume the shape of the wearer’s feet, providing individualized fit. This quality maximizes comfort and minimizes foot disorders.
o Durability: Leather resists tearing and puncturing.


Natural Uppers

o Side Leather: Side leather is the most versatile leather used. It gets the name because the hides are normally split down the back into two sides. Patterns can be imprinted, creating embossed leather. It can also be tumbled and crushed to become soft and drapeable. When side leather is impregnated with oils, it is sometimes called wax hide or waxy leather.

o Calfskin: This leather is from the young cows or calves. It has a fine grain and is soft and pliable, It also has the ability to withstand hard wear and combines elegant luxury with practicality.

o Kidskin: The skin of goats is lightweight, yet strong and resilient.

o Exotic Leathers: Alligator, lizard, snake skin or ostrich are common exotic leathers tanned from the hides and skins of these reptiles and birds.

o Pigskin: The skin of pigs or hogs is normally used as sueded or brushed leather. It is also used for shoe linings.

o Nubuck: This leather finish is created by buffing the outer surface of the leather to produce a very fine nap.

o Patent Leather: This finish is produced by coating the surface of the leather with a film or urethane resin to give a high gloss.

o Suede Leather: This finish is made by buffing the flesh or underside of the skin (kid, calf, pig or side leather).


Manmade Uppers
Manmade materials and fabrics are also used to make shoe uppers. The primary families of man-made imitation leathers are vinyl and urethane. Among the benefits of using manmade materials are generally lower materials cost, good looks and easy maintenance. However, they have two primary disadvantages:

o Manmade materials do not absorb and pass off foot moisture.
o They lack memory retention and return to their original shape after being worn.
o Nyteck
o Corducra
o Nylon/ Nylon Mesh
o Ballistic Nylon

The height of a boot is determined by measuring from the top of the sole, or the welt, to the top of the collar. In other words, the height of the boot does not include the height of the sole.

Lacing Systems
There are three basic form of lacing systems. Hooks, eyelets and D-Rings. Each has their own value for use. All help maintain a sturdy hold to keep your boots or shoes firmly on your feet.






























Linings are designed to help footwear breathe better. Customers might be inclined to think a boot is insulated when they see the lining.

Psychologically many customers may think a lined boot is warmer. Ensure you explain the benefits of linings so they understand its intended function.

Nylong Mesh


Thinsulate™ branded insulation is the most common insulation used in footwear offered by Working Person’s Store. The amount of insulation is measured in GRAMS. After reading the information on Thinsulate™ at, you will see that even the manufacturer believes that 400-600 GRAMS is the best range of insulation.

Non-Removable Footbeds

Padded/Pillow Cushion

• The padding usually maintains cushioning for 6-8 months, depending on wear, exposure to water and the amount of perspiration produced by the user.
• It is not uncommon for the user to create a hole in the padding under the big toe. Some people curl their toes without realizing it. Over time, the toe curling may result in a hole being worn in the padding.
• It is not uncommon for a customer to voice concern about feeling a ridge at the edge of their feet, usually at the ball of the feet or around the heel. If this is the case, that is probably not going to be the best shoe for them.

Removable Footbeds

Tri or Dual Density

Be very careful when recommending replacement insoles. Some people will have the logic that the more insoles they put in their shoes, the more comfortable the shoes will be. This is not necessarily the case. There are two problems with this thinking:

1. Shoes are usually designed to accommodate ONE footbed. Placing two in the footbed can make them fit too tight.
2. Most footbeds are built up in the arch area which can interfere with the fit of the shoe. Placing two insloles would have a big effect on the arch support.