THE PROCESS BEHIND FOOTWEAR PRODUCTION & CONSTRUCTION
Over the past century, the footwear production process has dramatically changed thanks to technological advancements in machinery, materials, processes and testing techniques. However, despite these new innovations, the way in which shoes are made today still follow traditional methods. Combining the old with the modern, the footwear industry has experienced a massive boom with around 22 billion pairs of footwear produced globally each year. While Asia dominates footwear production, it is in places such as Portugal, with a rich history of shoe making embedded into its culture, that are thriving thanks to their offering of quality and affordable prices. But, what exactly is needed to start producing footwear and what is the process. Here, we tell you all.
Footwear production consists of multiple stages and factors that are centered around the development of a shoe style - from concept to manufacturing. Through the design, materials and production method used, a shoe takes on its desired qualities. Like anything, the process begins with an idea and a shoe design, followed by the creation of a sample. Once the shoe sample has been approved, production of the footwear styles can begin. Naturally, because all shoe types are different, the production methods differ too. Footwear production methods are selected based on the requirements of the shoe design. For example, a running sneaker would require a different sole and stitching method in comparison to a leather boot. Depending upon the specifications of the shoe, production will be carried out in a specialized factory or department dedicated to that particular construction.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT FOOTWEAR PRODUCTION METHODS?
Each footwear style requires its own method of production. Inside different factories there are unique kinds of constructions used that enable any style of shoe to be built. These are the most common method of footwear production:
The simplest and cheapest method of construction. Cemented sees parts of the glued together using strong adhesives. This process makes the shoes light and soft, however they can’t usually be resoled, making them less environmentally friendly and long lasting.
The Blake construction is recognizable through the sole of the shoes as the insole is sewn directly to the outsole. Often, blake-stiched shoes, like loafers, don’t have additional layers of insulation above the sole.
Similar to the Blake construction in terms of its advantages and disadvantages, the Bologna shoe construction has folded uppers that are stitched together like a sock. This is then combined with a thin leather insole allowing for an even softer shoe compared to the Blake-stiched style.
A method in use for 400 years, the Goodyear-welted production method is one of the best known. This style of production is often seen in elegant shoes that boast a refined appearance. They are also high in durability and quite easy to repair.
With a process that is identical to the Goodyear-welted method, and as the name suggests, the hand welted method is different in that it is performed entirely by hand. This is the finest construction method and is used by almost all bespoke makers. If you want a truly hand-made touch, this is your best choice.
Vulcanized shoes are extremely popular in sneakers, with one of the most notable styles being the famed Converse canvas sneakers. Vulcanization involves heating rubber with certain chemicals that extend its durability and flexibility. In this process, the rubber outsole is molded first and then attached to the upper.
The Norwegian footwear construction process is the most complex. The technique was traditionally used for hiking boots in Northern Europe, and today the method is perfect for creating long-lasting, sturdy shoes. Norwegian construction is designed to make waterproof shoes that are tough and suitable for long usage outdoors.
Taking your footwear dreams into production can at first seem complex, but following a stringent process from conceptualization to production can make things easier - especially with the help of Addvance Studios. With our specialized experience in footwear development & production, we are able to efficiently develop tailored shoe requests based on your specific needs, turning your shoe designs into final footwear collections.