Shoemaking is the process of making footwear. Originally, shoes were made one at a time by hand. Traditional handicraft shoemaking has now been largely superseded in volume of shoes produced by industrial mass production of footwear, but not necessarily in quality, attention to detail, or craftsmanship.
Footwear can be defined as garments that are worn on the feet. There main purpose is protecting one’s feet. Of late, footwear has become an important component of fashion accessories. Although, their basic purpose remains that of protection, adornment or defining style statement has become their additional and a significant function. There are many types of footwear- shoes, boots, sandals, slippers etc. They are further categorized into many more types. Shoemakers may produce a range of footwear items, including shoes, boots, sandals, clogs and moccasins. Such items are generally made of leather, wood, rubber, plastic, jute or other plant material, and often consist of multiple parts for better durability of the sole, stitched to a leather upper.
Shoe Making Process
A footwear company has mainly four departments in which a progressive route is followed for producing finished shoes. These are- Clicking or Cutting Department, Closing or Machining Department, Lasting & Making Department, Finishing Department and the Shoe Room.
Clicking OR Cutting Department
In this department, the top part of the shoe or the “upper” is made. The clicking operative is given skins of leather, mostly cow leather but not restricted to this type of leather. Using metal strip knives, the worker cuts out pieces of various shapes that will take the form of “uppers”. This operation needs a high level of skill as the expensive leather has to be wasted at the minimum level possible. Leather may also have various defects on the surface such as barbed wire scratches which needs to be avoided, so that they are not used for the uppers.
Lasting and Making Department
The completed uppers are molded into a shape of foot with the help of a “Last”. Last is a plastic shape that simulates the foot shape. It is later removed from the finished shoe to be used further in making other shoes. Firstly, an insole to the bottom of the last is attached. It is only a temporary attachment. Sometimes, mostly when welted shoes are manufactured, the insole has a rib attached to its under edge. The upper is stretched and molded over the last and attached to the insole rib. After the procedure completes, a “lasted shoe” is obtained. Now, the welt- a strip of leather or plastic- is sewn onto the shoe through the rib. The upper and all the surplus material is trimmed off the seam. The sole is then attached to the welt and both are stitched together. The heel is then attached which completes the “making” of the shoe.
The finishing of a shoe depends on the material used for making it. If made of leather, the sole edge and heel are trimmed and buffed to give a smooth finish. To give them an attractive finish and to ensure that the edge is waterproof, they are stained, polished and waxed. The bottom of the sole is often lightly buffed, stained and polished and different types of patterns are marked on the surface to give it a craft finished look.
After finishing shoes are packed in required boxes and cartons. There are various packing materials used for this purpose depending on type of shoes and mode of transportation.