The Making of a Women’s Shoe

Beth Cornaccio, right, prepared this explanation for how one of’s  premier italian shoe designers puts together a shoe collection for the season.

One… The designer decides lasts/heels for the season. (round, square, pointed, etc.) as well as heel height.

Two… The designer then sketches the models for each last.

Three… The technicians receive sketches and input to the computer. This prints a cardboard pattern.

Four… The first department that receives the cardboard pattern is the “cutting room”. Approx. 3½ pairs of shoes per skin is the average. Here the leather is cut for the different parts of the upper (vamp, heel, lining, etc.). The best leather is put around the toe and the less durable around the heel. They try to cut so there is no waste.

Five… The second department is the “sewing room”. This is where different pieces are stitched together. They insert the toe cap between the vamp and the lining to reinforce the shoe toe. All shoes are reinforced to some degree. The more reinforced the less comfortable but the less reinforced the more likely the shoe is to wrinkle.

Six… At the same time another department called the “preparation room” prepares the components for the bottom of the shoe. These are the lasts, heels, counters and insoles. The counter has to reinforce the back of the shoe and is the same for all shoes. For each size there is a different last Heels are used for two sizes: for example, a size 7 heel is used for sizes 7 and 7½.

Seven… Next the “lasting room: receives the stitched uppers from the “sewing room”. This is where they put everything together. The upper is put on a last to acquire the shape. At one time lasts were wooden but now they are all plastic. Next the insole is glued underneath. Then the heel is nailed to the sole (the insole is between the sock lining and the stacked sole). The next step is taking off the last. Afterwards, the sock lining is glued in.

Eight… The last department is the “finishing room”. This is where the shoes are cleaned, brushed and prepared for packing and shipping. Nine… Ornaments, bows, etc. are put on prior to the shoe being taken off the last.

2 thoughts on “The Making of a Women’s Shoe

  1. Can you please tell me what brand shoe accomodates a narrow heel? I cannot find a casual pump that will stay on my foot – I always walk out of the heel. It is not tight enough. Thank you, Sincerely, Linda Schultz

  2. Dear Linda,

    This is a hugely common problem with only one real solution. First, it would help to know what size shoe you wear because the problem gets even worse for women who wear larger sizes. The shoemakers tend to increase the width of the heel as they increase the length. But the human foot, especially the woman’s foot, does not have a heel that increases in proportion to the length.

    Second, people have different shaped feet. MANY of the best people (moi, par example!) have feet that are wider in the front and narrower in the back. Only New Balance pays attention to this shape and builds the SL-2 last for us duck footed women.

    Third, those little heel fitter gizmos do not work and will make you miserable and disappointed. Pick pumps and flats that have a “maryjane” strap and you will be a happy walker!

    The Shoe Lady

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