All About Shoes
A shoe is a type of footwear that covers the foot and protects it with a sole. There are various styles of shoes for different occasions, such as athletic shoes, sneakers, dress shoes, sandals, and boots.
Our Shoe Collection
Shoe collecting is the acquisition and trading of shoes most often sneakers as a hobby. It is often manifested by the use and collection of shoes made for particular sports, particularly basketball and skateboarding. A person involved in sneaker collecting is sometimes called a sneakerhead.
History of Shoes
Long before history began people wore shoes. During the Ice Age people called Cro-Magnons wore simple leather boots. They lived during an ice age so protecting your feet from the cold was essential. In Egypt shoes were not necessary because of the hot climate. Most people went barefoot much of the time but they sometimes wore sandals made from papyrus. Well off Egyptians wore leather sandals.
A people called the Assyrians ruled an empire in the Middle East between 900 BC and 612 BC. They equipped their soldiers with sturdy boots, which helped on long marches.
Types of Shoes
- Athletic shoes: Athletic shoes, also known as sneakers, have a rubber sole and canvas upper and are designed to be worn while doing physical activity. There are different types of athletic shoes for various functions. Running shoes have additional sole support to protect the feet against ground impact, and tennis shoes are specifically designed to be flexible for tennis players. High-tops extend up to the ankles and provide stability to basketball players.
- Ballet flats: Traditionally, lace-up ballet shoes are worn by ballet dancers when they dance, but an everyday version of the slip-on shoes, known as ballet flats, feature a rubber sole. Mary Jane shoes are a version of a ballet flat with a strap across the top.
- Boat shoes: These canvas or leather slip-on shoes have rubber soles that feature a cut pattern to prevent slippage on wet decks.
- Brogue shoes: Brogue shoes are any low-heeled shoe, loafer, or boot that features broguing, or hole perforations. Brogue shoes are usually leather shoes and are common in menswear. A wingtip is a type of brogues that has a W-shaped, pointed toe cap with wings that run along the side of the shoe, ending before the ball of the foot.
- Clogs: This refers to any slip-on shoe that has a thick, wooden sole and an open back.
- Espadrilles: These summer shoes have a fiber sole and a canvas upper, and they lace up around the ankles. Some espadrilles are flat, while others are platform shoes.
- Flip flops: These flat sandals have a Y-shaped strap that separates the big toe from the other toes. Flip flops are everyday casual shoes for the summer, particularly for the beach.
- High heels: Any shoe with a heel that’s more than one inch is called a high-heel shoe. High heels come in many styles, such as high heel sandals or stilettos with long and thin heels.
- Loafers: Loafers are slip-on shoes with a heel and rounded toe. When made out of leather, loafers can serve as a good pair of business shoes. Loafers made of fabric can be trendy casual wear shoes. Penny loafers are a version of loafers with a leather strap on top.
- Oxford shoes: These classic dress shoes lace up and have a low heel with a slightly pointed toe. Oxford shoes are typically polished brown or black leather, and there are many variations. A cap toe oxford has horizontal stitching on the toe box and is more of a formal shoe. A derby shoe, also known as a blucher shoe, is a version of the oxford shoe with open lacing. The shoelace eyelets are on top of the vamp—the front part of the shoe covering the toes and part of the foot—which enables the derby shoe to lace up looser than the oxford shoe.
- Monk strap shoes: Monk strap shoes look similar to oxford shoes, but instead of laces, the enclosure is a wide strap across the vamp.
- Platform shoes: This shoe style features a heel and a thick sole to elevate the foot off of the ground. Platform shoes can be sandals, close-toed shoes, or boots.
- Slingbacks: This refers to any shoe with a covered toe and a strap that goes around the heels to secure the shoe. There are slingback heels as well as slingback flats.
- Strappy sandals: These sandals have straps across the foot and sometimes up the ankles. Strappy sandals can be flat or feature a low or high heel.
How Shoes Are Made
Do you enjoy going barefoot? On the first warm day of spring, it's nice to feel the fresh blades of grass tickling your toes. On a hot summer day, there's nothing like the sensation of sand between your toes as you walk on the beach.
Most of the time, though, you probably wear shoes. If you're like many kids, you probably have a variety of shoes designed for different tasks. Tennis shoes work great for gym class. Flip flops make the walk from the beach to the shower easier. Hiking boots allow you to tackle tough terrain with ease. Casual walkers are great for comfort.
A trip to your nearest shoe store will reveal a wide variety of shoes: running shoes, basketball shoes, soccer cleats, dress shoes, high heels, clogs, mukluks, boat shoes, work boots, and the list goes on and on. Who makes all these different shoes? Do they all come from the same factory?
Shoes date back to the earliest days of primitive man. It didn't take long walking on rough ground and rocks to figure out that some protection for the feet was necessary.
For thousands of years, shoes were crafted by hand out of natural materials, including animal skins. While it's still possible to find handcrafted shoes, they tend to be expensive and relatively rare.
Most of the shoes we wear today are mass-produced in factories for the multitude of shoe manufacturers that exist around the world. For example, shoe giant Nike primarily uses factories in Asia to make its sneakers, including countries such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, and Thailand.
The exact steps of production vary by factory, equipment, material, and shoe design. Even the simplest shoe designs can require nearly 100 steps from start to finish. More complex designs can include 400 steps or more!
While shoe designs vary greatly, most shoes contain some common, basic parts: sole, insole, outsole, midsole, heel, and upper. Depending upon specific designs, shoes may also contain a lining, tongue, quarter, welt, or backstay.
A variety of specialized machines are used to manufacture all of these separate pieces and, ultimately, fit them together to create a finished pair of shoes. Despite the number of steps and materials involved, a pair of shoes can be manufactured much more quickly in a factory than by hand.
To make the shoe-manufacturing process more efficient, modern factories use a manufacturing process known as nesting, which divides up the many steps of shoe production into several different departments within the factory.
These departments usually bear names that reflect the specific tasks they perform, such as designing, cutting, machining, sewing, assembling, and finishing. While many different machines perform specialized tasks, many humans are also essential to make the process run smoothly.
Today's shoes boast a dizzying array of materials. Leather, plastic, cloth, and rubber remain popular materials. Thanks to technology, though, you'll also find advanced materials in many shoes, including ethylene vinyl acetate, polyurethane foam, and gel or liquid silicone.
Does the shoe-manufacturing process seem a bit complicated? There certainly are many steps, machines, and people necessary to produce a modern pair of shoes. But don't forget that there's one more aspect that makes things just a little bit more difficult: every shoe design also has to be manufactured in a wide variety of different sizes!