They make traveling easier and protect the foot from risks on the ground, which people prefer to tread into more often than not. Shoes have progressed from being only foot protection to making a fashion statement. In addition, shoes reveal a lot about a person’s ethos, culture, ethnicity, surroundings, and social status.
In addition, shoes are currently being made for specialized tasks such as running, climbing, skiing, or for extremely specific persons such as women’s heels, arthritic walking shoes, and so on. In recent years, the manufacture of a shoe has become a very complicated procedure. A shoe is made up of about thirty separate pieces created from a variety of modern materials.
What’s going on inside your custom-made footwear? We intend to deconstruct the shoe’s anatomy and describe the shoemaking process in this post, highlighting the fine nuances and individual elements that go into making a high-end handcrafted shoe.
Table of Contents
- Shoe Terminology
- The Anatomy of the Shoe
- Materials in Shoe Construction
With up to 30 different components necessary to build a single shoe, it’s no surprise there’s a long list of words used to describe each component. External Parts of the Shoe and Internal Parts of the Shoe make up the anatomy of the shoe. Below is a list that will hopefully help explain some of the more commonly used terms when talking about footwear.
External Parts of the Shoe
External parts of the shoe are of paramount importance to the overall construction of the shoe. This includes all the exterior of the shoe, including the upper, sole, and laces.
The following are some frequently used terms when describing the exterior of the shoe:
- Backstay: The fixed tape or string runs the length of the shoe and keeps the shoe attached to your foot.
- Breast: The part of the upper that covers your instep or arch of the foot. The breast is further divided into the vamp and the T-Strap. The Vamp covers from under the instep to the beginning where the arch comes to a point, around 1 inch from the top.
- Counter: A leather piece covering a wood or plastic board is usually stitched into place on both sides. It gives a shoe structure and shape, as well as provides a foundation for a heel counter.
- Collar: The part of the upper that covers your ankle, usually made of a single piece of leather or stiffened material such as cardboard.
- Eyestay: A vertical material that holds the laces and is usually stitched on inside the shoe.
- Eyelet: The hole that the laces are tied through on the outside of the shoe. A piece of material usually covers the eyelet.
- Feather edge: The edge of the shoe that is stitched around the upper.
- Forepart: The part of the shoe that covers the front side of your foot, including around your ankle, instep, and arch.
- Heel: The upper part of the shoe covers the heel and forms part of the arch.
- Heel seat: The part of the upper around the back of the heel.
- Heel cap: The upper part of the shoe covers your heel, usually made of leather or other material, though some often have plastic inserts.
- Quarter: The circular piece covering the back of the foot is usually stitched to the shoe’s upper.
- Sole: The internal, bottom part of the shoe. Rubber, leather, plastic, and/or wood are commonly used for this portion of the shoe.
- Throat: Top of your foot’s protective layer of footwear.
- Toe cap: The same as above but for your toes on the back of your foot. A piece of fabric covers the toe on the front of the shoe. This is usually sewn on.
- Toe box: The area where the toe meets the foot at the end of the shoe.Same as above for your toes.
- Tongue: A flap of leather or other material that is stitched inside the shoe that wraps around the back of your ankle. It is a piece of material that is usually stitched in, but it is sometimes made from a separate piece of material such as leather or wood.
- Top Piece: A piece of material that covers the top of the foot and helps shape it.
- Topline: The line on the top of the foot.
- Upper: The part of the shoe that covers your foot from your heel to the top of your foot.
- Vamp: The part of the upper that covers the instep to the beginning of it curves around to form your arch.
- Waist: The shoe section that goes around your ankle, usually made of similar material to the upper.
- Welt: Away from the shoe’s sole, this is usually made up of rubber, plastic, or leather that wraps around your foot to give you a better grip on grass and pavement.
- Welt line: The part of the shoe where this piece is sewn to the rest of it.
Internal Parts of the Shoe
The term “internal parts of the shoe” refer to everything that goes into the major section of the shoe: the soles and parts that go inside your foot.
When talking about internal parts, we can most often find terms such as:
- Collar padding: Padding that is placed under the collar of the shoe for comfort.
- Counter pads: Padding that provides extra comfort and support around the counter of the shoe.
- Flex groove/channel/slot: A section in the sole where flex material is inserted to make it more flexible.
- Filler: A material used inside the shoe to increase cushioning and comfort.
- Insole: The inside of the shoe that goes against your foot.
- Internal heel counter: The part of the sole is usually stitched on to support your heel.
- Lining: A material that lines the inside of the shoe, usually made of leather or other soft material.
- Counter lining: A material that acts as a support for the shoe’s lining.
- Tongue lining: A material that lines the inside of the shoe’s tongue.
- Vamp Lining: A material that lines the inside of the vamp of the shoe.
- Puff: A soft material that can be placed inside the shoe to provide extra comfort.
- Shoe tree: A leather piece used to provide support to the shoes when left overnight.
- Topline lining: Lining material on top of the shoe.
- Seat: Material used in the seat of the shoe.
- Shank: A wooden piece placed into the sole that provides a foundation for a heel counter or a screw.
- Stiffener: The material used to prevent the shoe from bending and providing structure and shape.
- Welt: Material used to wrap around your foot.
- Tongue padding: Padding placed in the tongue of the shoe.
The Anatomy of the Shoe
According to McPhoil (1988), a shoe’s construction may be separated into two parts: upper and below (or bottom part). The vamp, quarter, toebox, throat, insole board, and topline are all upperparts. An outsole, shank, and heel make up the bottom shoe’s parts.
The Upper of the Shoe
The vamp runs from the toe cap to the rear of the shoe, all the way to the quarter. Its main purpose is to keep the user’s toes safe. The vamp is also said to be extremely well-designed to attract the user’s attention.
The main function of the quarters is to protect the front part of the user’s foot. The quarter sits on top of the vamp and extends to cover about half of the foot. It has a circular, curved shape. They may be seen from behind the vamp. The quarters encircle the entrance of the shoe and cover the sides and rear of the foot. They wrap around the heel and come to a halt at the shoelaces.
They protect the parts of the foot that aren’t covered by the vamp. The quarter and the vamp might be distinct or fashioned from the same material. The top line or collar refers to the top margins of the quarter. It has padding for increased comfort. Fibreboard or molded plastic are used to strengthen it. As a result, it contours the back of the foot and provides ample support. For increased support, a second layer called foxing can be placed to the quarter.
The lining is placed over the quarters and vamp, extending from the top of the quarter to the top of the vamp. It may be fashioned of a variety of materials, including leather and cloth. It increases the shape and supports the posterior part of the foot. And it looks nice! The lining is a layer on the inside of the shoe that provides support. The lining is normally sewn from the inside to the upper of the shoe. The layer must be exceedingly soft and breathable to keep the wearer in the shoe as comfortable as possible. In addition, the lifespan of a shoe is extended by using high-quality linings.
The toe cap sits over the toes and overhangs the front of the shoe. It can be a separate piece of material overlaid on the front of a shoe, or it may be a curved portion of the upper material from which the vamp and quarters are cut. The toe cap is an important aspect of any shoe as it is essential for providing comfort for those who require shoes with wide fitting. In addition, it serves as an extension of the vamp.
A shoe’s toe cap or toe box is located at the front of the shoe. It’s a box-like roofed construction that protects the user’s toes by totally covering them. A shoe’s toe cap must be large enough to cover and accommodate the user’s toes. They also help to define the shoe’s structure. For example, because the front of the shoe is subjected to a lot of stress, the toe cap gives strength to the front of the shoe. The size of the toe boxes in various shoes varies. For example, women’s footwear may require smaller toe boxes than athletes’ footwear. Shoe toe caps are 1 to 2 millimeters thick and sit between the top and liner of the shoe. Leather, plastic, and carbon fiber are used to make them. Toe caps made of steel or aluminum can be seen on some heavy-duty shoes.
Between the vamp and the quarters lies this section of the shoe. The toebox is an area designed for walking and standing. It may be made using a single piece of material, or different pieces joined together with a seam.
The throat is located on the front of the vamp, directly behind the toe cap, at the primary entrance of the shoe. It’s located halfway between the middle area of the vamp, where the shoe lacing is located, and a quarter, with seams separating the different sections. The eye remains to refer to the placement of the neck. The maximum girth allowed by a shoe is defined by its neck.
The Sole of the Shoe
The initial layer of the shoe’s sole is the insole. It is linked to the top of the shoe and sits right beneath the foot. As a result, it’s more generally referred to as the shoe’s footbed. The insole is curved and constructed to cradle the foot. It’s constructed of cellulose or paper board, which are both quite thin materials. Ethylene-vinyl acetate, a shock-absorbing material, is used in the insole. Antimicrobial compounds are included in certain insoles, which help to prevent bacterial infections and shoe odor. Insulated footbeds are available in several cold-weather shoes and boots. The insole is responsible for cradling and supporting the foot.
In a shoe, the outsole is in direct touch with the ground. As a result, it directly touches the elements (such as heat, cold, water). It can also take in a lot of abuse. It is responsible for providing traction and support to the user. It must be strong enough to endure abrasion from friction and impact from walking or running. It’s constructed of long-lasting materials, including solid rubber, PVC, and polyurethane resin.
The outsole is usually divided into two main parts: the hell counter, the outermost part of the shoe, and the outsole proper, which is directly beneath it. The outsole has a patterned structure made to grip the ground. In addition, it has deep channels for flexibility and durability. The outsole is bonded to the footbed’s bottom with cement or resins. It thus provides support to the shoe.
The shank of a shoe extends from one end of an outsole to another end (the heel). It provides additional support to the inner sole of a shoe. Its major function is to provide a transverse arch or lift to a shoe. Its other functions are:
- To transfer the bodyweight of a person from the outsole to the heel
- To increase stability in high heels
- To add stability in shoes with low arches
Shank plates are usually used for stiffening. Wood, aluminum, and other metals are just a few of the materials that may be used to make them. They add stability and durability to the shoe. Shanks are divided into two types—internal and external. An internal shank is attached to the insole of a shoe.
The heel is present at the back of a shoe. It can be made up of a variety of materials. It gives extra height to the shoe and adds to its aesthetic appeal. The heel also helps provide balance and support to a person wearing it, especially if the wearer has high arches or pronates (this condition makes a person lean backward).
The welt is a textile strip that runs the length of the shoe that runs lengthwise on the bottom of a shoe. It is produced by pressing layers of fabric along the bottom of a shoe and then squaring them off on both sides. It thus passes around the heel and meets at the toe cap. The welt is usually used to add strength and stability to shoes, especially for performance or heavily used shoes like boots or tennis shoes. The heel of an athletic shoe is not made of leather but of synthetics.
The tongs are part of the outsole and are sometimes called the medial side. They are used for giving additional grip to a shoe. Their major role is to increase traction on a surface, making it easier for the foot to move on that surface.
Materials in Shoe Construction
There are a handful of materials used in making a pair of shoes, each offering a unique aspect in terms of personal comfort and durability, in addition to looking great! Below is a list of some commonly used materials when referring to footwear construction:
- Leather: Soft, durable, and long-lasting. The most prevalent material used in shoe manufacture is leather.
- Suede: Soft and sleek, suede shoes offer comfort and a unique look.
- Cordovan: A type of leather from a horse’s rear quarter.
- Nubuck: A type of leather that has been buffed to make it softer and more comfortable to wear.
- Vibram: Resistant rubber sole designed for hiking, running, and climbing.
- Rubber: Durable and resistant to moisture.
- Plastic: Lightweight yet durable.
- Linen: Lightweight yet durable.
- Rubber coated canvas: A type of fabric coated in rubber to give it a soft, suede-like feel.
- Leather-lined canvas: A type of fabric that is made from cotton with leather lining. This material gives it a soft and cozy feel while still being lightweight and durable.
- Cow leather: A type of leather from a cow’s rear quarter.
- Synthetic: Durable yet lightweight and comfortable to wear with a unique look.
- PU: A type of plastic that makes for a lightweight and durable shoe.
- Canvas: Strong, durable with a soft feel.
- Rubber sole: Lightweight and strong material with a unique look.
- Insole: Materials used in the inside of the shoe, usually made from a soft material such as leather or fabric.
What is the structure of a shoe?
Shoe structure refers to the various parts of a shoe. They include the sole, outsole, insole, shank, heel, midsole, tongue, gore, laces, top line, collar lining, sole lining.
What is the main part of the shoe?
The toe cap, top, heel, sole, shank, welt, and waist make up the shoe’s anatomy. The vamp, tongue, and eyelets, as well as the neck, puff, quarters, and lining, make up the top. The insole, outsole, and midsole are the three sections of the sole.
What is the opening of a shoe called?
The opening of a shoe is called the front, vamp, eyelets, or laces.
How many parts are there in a shoe?
There are four parts: sole, upper, heel, and insole. The sole and heel make up the outsole, and the insole makes up the footbed. The upper consists of the vamp, tongue, eyelets, throat, and lining. The insole is the innersole of the shoe, consisting of the insole, footbed, insole lining, and insole material.
What is the upper part of a shoe?
The upper part of a shoe is the part that covers the foot. It is usually made out of soft leather or canvas. The upper also refers to the vamp, tongue, eyelets, throat, and lining.