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Glossary

A-Z Shoe info: Some technical, some just interesting!

A

AGLET

The little bit of plastic on the ends of a shoe lace which makes it easy to thread through the eyelet and also prevents the lace from freying.  This method was originally used on ropes.

Random fact: Often misnamed as a Flugelbinder… amusingly a made-up word used by Tom Cruises’s character in the 1988 film Cocktail.

APRON

An apron is a pattern piece overlay positioned on the front and toe area, this often has a feature stitch or seam.

ARCH

The Arch of the foot is between the heel and ball of the foot.  People can have neutral arches, high arches or collapsed arches (the latter aided by orthotic footbeds).

B

BACKSEAM

This is literally the seam that runs up the back of the shoe. On a Wholecut shoe this is the only seam on the shoe and is a very expensive pattern construction.

BACKSTRAP

A decorative pattern piece which forms the back of the shoe.

BELLOWS TONGUE

A type of tongue pattern used primarily for weather proof shoes to keep water and sand out of footwear.  Also used as a design feature.

BLAKE STITCHED

often mistaken for being welted. The sole is glued and stitched on.

BLUCHER FACING

These are the pattern pieces on a derby pattern.

BOTTOMING

A factory process of attaching a sole to an upper.  Various methods: Welted, cemented, Blake stitched, Bologna, vulcanised, voeldtshoen.

BREAK

Break marks are the lines on the vamp where the foot flexes.  Visible with normal wear. Prominent and heavy in low grade leather.

BROGUE

A shoe style.  History of this style is sketchy… some claim it is Gaellic some say Scottish. It is clear that the decorative Brogue punching we all love today started out as a functional detail.  To allow water to drain out of the when being worn in wet environments such as bog.  The brogue style was originally a country item that was not worn for city attire.

Now a staple shoe in every discerning gents wardrobe.  Brogue styling can be applied to any shoe pattern, brogue, monk, oxford, derby, loafer, boots… endless really.

BURNISH

This is the finish applied to a shoe through burnishing/polishing.  This is a done by hand and can be lightly applied or heavy and defined.  Most commonly a dark tone of the same upper colour, but can be applied in bright contrast colours to beautiful effect.

C

CALF LEATHER

Fine grade leather, of bovine calf origin.  The description of Calf leather is often preceded by the country of origin to define the provinence of the hide. Eg French Calf.

CAP TOE

Or Toe Cap.  This is the pattern piece on a shoe that defines the design of the toe, can be plain, gimped, brogued, medallion punched…

CEMENTED

A shoe construction method.  The upper and sole are bonded together rather than stitched.

CLICKING

In truly handmade shoes each piece is cut by hand – this is called clicking, due to the noise the blade makes on the pattern edge.  In a factory this is still called the Clicking department even if the pieces are cut by press knife.

CLOSING

Technical term referring to the sewing of the pattern pieces together to create the upper.

COLLAR

Pattern piece around the top of the shoe/boot. The edge can be raw or folded but to be defined as a collar it is Usually padded.

COUNTER

Back part pattern piece.   Can be plain, patterned, detailed, burnished.  Principally this pattern piece conceals the ‘stiffener’ and also makes for better pattern economy.

COUNTER STIFFENER

Heat activated material positioned between the upper and lining at the back of the shoe, moulded to retain shape.  This process is slightly different in genuine full handmade shoes where the stiffener would be leather.

CORESPONDENT

This is a shoe style made up of two different colours or materials. Popular style in the 1920’s.

CURING

The process of preparing hides for the tanning process.

D

DECK SHOE

A style of shoe designed primarily for wearing on a boat deck with a siped non marking sole to avoid slip.   It is also a fashion style.

DERBY 

A pattern style which allow the facings to be more

easily opened for greater foot entry.  The pattern style is well suited for wider feet or high insteps as the foot entry is greater than an oxford pattern.

DOUBLE MONK

A shoe fastened with twin buckles instead of shoe laces.  Also exists as a more traditional single monk buckle.

E

EYELETS

The holes for laces.  In very thick upper leather these can be raw, but generally will be either blind eyelets, attached from the reverse but invisible from the top of the upper, or full, where the eyelet is a feature itself depending on colour finish etc.

E.V.A

Etheylene Vinyl Acetate.  Mouldable manmade material – this material has many uses but it is basically what cheap flipflops are made from.

F

FACINGS

The pattern area across the instep, most often where the fastening is.

FAIRSTITCH

The stitch that joins the Welt to the midsole.

FINISH

Hand finishing to make a final product. Can be polished, creamed, burnished, antiqued.  Usually carried out in a ‘Finishing’ department.

FINISHING ROOM

This is last point.  The finished shoe is checked all over for any flaws. Some elements will be re-worked and others will marked as rejected by the QC in the Finishing department.  Shoes which pass, are buffed, wrapped, boxed and ready to go.

FITTING

Referrers to the width of a last.  Most commonly people are F-G fitting.  Some traditional makers offer narrow or extra wide fittings.

FOXING

This is the strip around a vulcanised shoe.  Can be plain or printed/coloured.

G

GIBSON

A pattern style, also known as a Derby. Gibson more commonly used in USA and Derby commonly used in the UK.

GOODYEAR WELTED

A mechanised construction replacing the need to hand sew upper to sole, a laborious process.  It was created and patented by Charles Goodyear Jr in 1869.   Not to be confused with his father, Charles Goodyear Sr who

patented the Vulcanised rubber process in 1844. What a clever pair.

GIMPED EDGE

The small triangular zigzag detail to pattern edges.  The same process as Pinking, but that term is more commonly used for garments. Gimped edges are generally part of the press knife.

GRADING

A factory process.  This is taking a confirmed fit approved pattern and ‘grading’ it up and down to make all the required sizes based on foot size.

H

HEEL SEAT

The point where heel and sole join, and also where the heel of your foot sits.  There will usually be a series of nails under your insock holding this together protected with a foam pad.

HI SHINE FINISH

This is a glossy finish to the leather.  Gives a very formal look.  Easy to clean but tends to crease heavily at the break point.

I

INJECTION MOULDED

Doesn’t apply to our shoes, but a very clever process, nonetheless.   It’s a method of literally injecting melted PVC into a sole mould, commonly used in budget footwear.

INSEAM

Part of the welted shoe construction where welt, upper, lining and insole are secured together.  The factory process is called Inseaming.  You cannot see it unless you cut your shoe apart so will have to take our word for it.

INSOLE

The part under the insock, the upper is attached to the insole whether cemented or welted.  In a welted shoe this insole is Leather and is usually left un-socked to allow the leather to mould under foot.

INSOLE RIB 

A component of the insole used when making

Goodyear Welted Construction.

INSTEP

Top part of the shoe, usually where the fastening is, between toes and ankle.  People referring to themselves as having “a high instep” benefit from wearing Derby patterns over Oxfords.

L

LAST

The 3D form that a shoe is built on. Bespoke shoes are still crafted on individual hard wood lasts, but for general shoe production only the development last will be created in wood and then graded and duplicated

in high density plastic, usually with a metal plated base, as this ensures long use.  Each pair can be used many times before being recycled into new lasts.

Most lasts have a spring to allow it to be removed once the shoe is finished.

Interesting fact:  until the mid 19th century shoes were made on ‘straight’ lasts. These had no definable left or right.

LASTING

A production process. The leather upper is pulled over the last.  Once set this will create the shape of the shoe.

LEATHER

Bovine, calf, kid, goat, sheep, nubuck, suede, oiled, exotic skins… will add to this as it needs its own glossary!

LOAFER

A slip on shoe with no fastening. Can be formal or casual depending on last shape and upper materials.

LIFT

Yechnical description for the layers of leather or leather board which make up a heel. (you can sometimes see this as ‘stripes’ around your heel if it is leather).

LONGWINGTIP

A pattern style where the decorative cap goes all the way around from the toe to the backseam.  Can be used on both formal and country styles.  A firm favourite.

LUG SOLE

Refers to a heavy weight rubber sole.

M

MEDALLION

Also known as centre punch, toe rose and various other terms.  This is the punched design which adorns the toe of a shoe.

MIDSOLE

Not in all shoes.  This is a layer between the lasted upper, insole and the outsole.  Makes for a very comfortable shoe.

MOCCASIN

A type of ‘stitch and turned’ construction shoe.  Originally a shoe of Native Indian sewn footwear but in the UK we’ve borrowed the name to describe any type of loafer/slip on with an apron seam.

Interesting fact:  The name Moccasin was the name of the first tribe that the settlers had contact with.

MONK SHOE

A pattern type where the shoe is fastened with a strap and buckle rather than laces.

Interesting fact:  It is thought that Monks in the 15th century developed the closed monk shoe style from the buckle sandals commonly worn. The style was later adopted as a general shoe style.

O

OUTSOLE

Literally the sole of the shoe.

OVERLAY

Pattern term, where one piece overlays the next – eg facing overlay the vamp.

OXFORD

This is a pattern style.  The facings butt together from the vamp point making a very neat upper.  Oxfords are sometimes referred to as Balmorals (named after Balmoral Castle).

Interesting fact:  The oxford evolved from the Oxonian, a side-slit half boot popular at Oxford University in the early 1800s. This ankle boot evolved to be a side laced version.  Later students rebelled against this style and the lacing was moved to the front of the instep and the height was lowered to create the Oxford shoe.

P

PERF

Decorative punching.  Can be single/double punch, round, diamond, shaped…Broguing is a type of perforating.

PIPING

An edge finish, this needs to be finely crafted to look neat.

POLISHED

Sometimes called Hi-Shine finish.  It is a coating applied at the tannery to give an incredible shine.  Very formal appearance but can be

stiff.  These are the type of shoes which need to be “broken in”.

PRESS KNIVES

The metal die made to ensure each pattern

piece is identical.  In truly handmade shoes each piece is cut by hand – this is call clicking, due to the noise the blade makes on the pattern edge.  In a factory this is called the Clicking department.

PU

Polyurethane. a manmade material used in mass produced budget shoes. It can be made to look very much like leather. Not something we use to make shoes, but it has its place in the market, most commonly ladies fashion shoes.

Q

QUARTER

A pattern piece.  The Quarters are the back part which wrap around to form the facings. Commonly referred to as Inside Quarter and Outside Quarter.  Quarter linings are where product info is commonly stamped.

R

RAND

A broad term, basically used on a cemented construction shoe, it emulates the visible stitched welt. This can be a storm rand or flat rand, stitched or plain.

S

SEMI-BROGUE

A shoe style. this is a classic, simple brogued shoe, where the punch detail is on the cap and counter. A very popular style. Most suited to formal/work footwear.

SHOE SIZE

Various… Some are UK sizes, with halves. Some are continental.  In Japan they use the mondopoint system.  There is much potted history about King Edward’s royal decree in 1324 and barley corns…  he set the 3 barley corns to the inch

which then determined shoe sizing.

SIDEWALL STITCH

This is a construction where the lasted upper sits inside the sole and it attached by being stitched through the ‘side wall’ of the sole.  Often referred to as ‘cupsole’ styles. Only used in casual footwear.

SIPING

A siped sole is the small razor cuts in a deck shoe which prevents slip.

Interesting fact:  One theory of how this was started is that the chap who created it was curious that his dog could run on ice without slipping so he copied the pattern from his dogs paws.

SHAFT

Refers to the leg section of a boot.

SHANK

Technical term for the rigid structure used to bridge the form under the arch area of the foot between the heel and the toe.  In welted shoes this is wooden, usually from Beech and in cemented shoes this is metal.

SLIPPERS

Basically indoor shoes… to avoid trampling around the house in noisy welted shoes. We don’t make any. Yet.

SLIP BINDING

A very fine ‘bead’ is positioned between the upper and lining during closing.  It gives a fine finish. Often seen on the facings of Oxford shoes as an elegant touch.  This needs to be done by a skilled Closer or it will look untidy so if often seen on high grade footwear.

SLIP LASTING

A production term.  The upper and insole are pre-stitched together before the last is inserted.

SKIVING

A technical term for reducing volume at an edge, or anywhere where two pieces are required to be joined to reduce volume – Skived edge.

SPECTATOR

A flamboyant shoe style.  Also known as a Correspondent, can be Oxford, semi-brogue or full brogue, made from two contrasting colours or materials.  These two-tone styles were extremely popular in the 1920s and 1930s.   Shoes for dapper chaps.

SOLE

The part which contacts the ground… can be leather, rubber, crepe, resin, PU… the bit you can’t see but is often highly decorated to entice a sale even though long-term it will tread in all manner of revolting substances…

STORM WELT

A technical term, whereby the edge of the welt is lifted to prevent water entering the seam.

STORM RAND

This emulates the look of a storm welt for cemented construction.  It offers no waterproof function, its purely aesthetic.  Still looks nice though!

SUEDE

Leather with a napped finish rather than tanned smooth top.  There is also a product called Split-suede, this is the secondary layer of the leather, the part that is trimmed off of the leather when it is split to its desired thickness.   Suede being top grade, and split suede being secondary grade.

T

TANNING

The process of making leather.

TASSEL

A decorative trim made commonly from leather or suede, used on loafer and slipper styles.

TOPLINE

A technical term. Literally the top of the shoe where the foot goes in.   Can be plain or decorated, raw, folded, bound, gimped….

TONGUE

A pattern piece which sits behind the facings and lacing for comfort.

TREAD

This is a style or design on the outsole.

U

UPPER

This is the soft leather part of the shoe, made from pattern pieces closed together.  The Upper is the part that wraps around the top of the foot.

V

VAMP

This refers specifically to the front part of the shoe.

VAMP POINT

A technical term.  It is a predetermined point on the last for foot entry.

VELDTSHOEN

A construction method.  The opposite of welted construction the upper, lining, insole and sole are folded out and stitched.

Also called a stitchdown.

VULCANISED

A construction method whereby the upper is bonded to a rubber sole with heat. The rubber sole parts are layered and then baked at 120 degrees to cure the rubber. This is used only in casual footwear.

W

WELT

Leather strip that is stitched through to secure the sole with the upper.

WIDTH

Most commonly shoes in the UK are F to G fit but fittings wider and narrow do exist from brands who specialise in narrow and wider fittings.  Most of our lasts are G fitting.

WINGTIP

This describes a pattern piece, but also is used as a general term to describe a style of brogueshoe.  The Wingtip pattern piece covers the toe and usually extend to just behind the facing stay point, often referred to a short wing tip.    In a Long or Full wingtip this cap goes all the way to the back seam or counter.

WHOLECUT

A pattern description.  This is a very expensive way to make an upper.  There is one single pattern piece so has more wastage than styles with pattern pieces.  Usually reserved for the most elegant shoes, made from beautiful materials. Sometimes the toe will have a medallion punch detail.