Shoes are your everyday essentials. But what’s in a pair of shoes or sneakers that make people love them? Do you really know the different parts of a shoe or sneaker? Perhaps knowing the parts can help explain why your feet feel comfortable most of the time and sore on other days.
The most common footwear in early civilization was the infamous sandal. But ever since these feet wraparounds were transformed, everyone has become particular fussy about shoes. Now, there are many choices of shoes and they are based on design or functionality, if not both. We can even go as far as saying, shoes help define the wearer’s character and style.
The world-renowned shoe designer Christian Louboutin was able to summarize what shoes symbolize. The designer was quoted as saying. “Shoes transform your body language and attitude. They lift you physically and emotionally.”
Brief History of Shoes and Sneakers
The people living in the mountains near the border of Persia (now known as the country of Iran) sometime between 1200-1600 BC, were the first to adorn their feet with sandals. They made the wraparounds from leather. You can just imagine the feeling they first got with foot protection and a durable sole. Sandals gave them the endurance to walk thousands of miles in the vast lands.
But funny as it may seem, shoemakers paid no particular attention to the right or left foot until 1818. For them, there was practically no difference. Thus, the right or left shoe was interchangeable. It didn’t matter which shoe went on which foot.
Hopping on to 1899, when the first ‘plimsolls’ or rubber-soled shoes came to light. Manufacturers wanted something that could outlast leather heels and this latest creation led to more improvements and better comfort levels. In total, the history of shoes spanned 40,000 years. The industry has continually flourished and has grown immensely to what it is today.
Did you know…..
Gender specific shoes in Europe were only introduced in the 18th century.
(Shoe shopping must have been much easier back then).
Different Parts of a Dress Shoe
If you examine a shoe and its different parts, you will find that the word list is composed of familiar and not so familiar terms. Most of the parts are present in all shoes but a few are exclusive to specific shoe types or style.
Let’s begin with the most common terms associated with the popular men’s dress shoe:
If you’re wondering which part holds your foot in place, it’s this thing called the ‘upper’. In a more direct description, the ‘upper’ is the entire covering of the shoe.
The Upper is usually made of synthetic leather for toughness and durability. There can also be mesh incorporated into the shoe so that your feet can breathe with ease. Other uppers may even have reflectors for safety and third-party visibility.
This is the part that is directly beneath your foot. Its primary purpose is to support and provide comfort to your footsies. This inner sole is attached to the upper part of your shoe. Insoles are removable or replaceable parts to help improve foot support.
The part of the shoe that is equally important as the ‘outsole’ and the insole is the ‘midsole’. It is strategically placed in between the insole and outsole. The midsole serves as the cushion and designed for shock absorption.
Running shoes are fitted with thick midsoles in order to protect soles. Other shoes that don’t weigh down on the foot don’t really need midsoles.
The sole is also known as the ‘outsole’ that basically refers to the entire sole of the shoe. To be precise, it’s the bottom part of the shoe that directly touches the ground you walk on.
The sole is the part of the shoe that’s exposed to tremendous stress and very prone to wear and tear. Shoe manufacturers use durable materials like leather, natural rubber, polyurethane or PVC compounds for the outsole depending on the utilization of the shoe.
The soles are the lifeline of your shoes. If they wear out, you retire the shoes and buy a new pair. But if you don’t want to part ways with your favorite shoes, you can always have them fixed and resoled.
The elevated portion of the sole at the bottom rear part of the shoe is the heel. When shoes are constructed, the material of the heel is usually the same as that of the sole.
This part rests just below the heel bone. The heel is positioned to improve balance, add a few inches to the wearer’s height, and correct body posture. Some heels are designed for the shoe to have a more appealing look.
In relation to the heel, there is the seat. You can find this part at the top of the heel that touches or connects to the upper. Its shape matches the form of the upper.
There is friction involved when shoes rub on the ground. The top piece is the part of the heel that helps maintain the said friction.
The other major components of the shoes are more technical in a natural way which only shoemakers know by heart. Following are the said parts a layman would be interested to learn:
Nearly all shoes have linings on the inside, around the quarter as well as the vamp. These linings extend the economic lifespan of the shoes while improving comfort at the same time.
The counter is the stiffest material embedded at the heel of a shoe. It’s placed right between the upper and the linings. It keeps the shoe in shape while providing strength at the rear of the sole.
The puff is the reinforcement inside the upper. This part gives your toes its shape and lends support.
One part that functions like a puff is the toe cap. This part can be found in the front upper of the shoe and may come in various forms. Some shoes have steel toe caps for utmost protection.
Toe caps provide the needed strength to the upper front of the shoe to minimize the stress from continuous use.
The vamp is a section of upper that covers the shoe beginning from the front to the back end.
The quarter pertains to the rear and sides of upper that covers the heel. It is positioned behind the vamp. The heel section of the quarter’s heel section is normally fortified with a stiffener.
That way, the rear of the foot is amply supported. The quarters and vamps of some shoes are fabricated with a continuous piece of leather.
The shank can be found in between the insole and outsole of the shoe. This part runs underneath the foot’s arch. The shank actually forms part of the shoe’s support structure to effectively give the shoe the desired structure.
Fiberglass, plastic, steel, and Kevlar are among the materials used as shoe shanks. A piece of metal inserted between the sole and the insole lying against the arch of the foot. Work boots in particular boast of the sturdiest shoe shank.
The welt is that band of leather you see running around the upper’s edge of the upper. This shoe part is what holds the other parts or components of the shoe together.
The expert creators of welts diligently run a lockstitch through the insole, upper, and the welt itself. It also entails making a separate stitch that would attach to the outsole. Shoes with double-stitch reinforcements are likely to endure and outlast others.
The other parts of the shoes are named after some parts of the human body.
The throat is the main opening of the shoes that extend from the vamp to the ankle. It’s one of the sections belonging to the upper part of the shoes.
You can’t miss this shoe part because of its resemblance to the shape of the human tongue. It’s the strip of material that’s sewn to laced-shoes and it runs from the vamp all the way to the throat.
Aside from the toe shape, some shoe buffs are finicky about the waist of the shoes. The waist in a shoe is the arch and instep of the foot. Shoes with a deeper waist cut tends to look more classy and stylish.
Parts of a Sneaker
The sneaker is the modern footwear staple. It’s the coolest foot accessory that doesn’t require too much effort when matching with your outfit. You can wear them every day, anywhere, or for any occasion without a dress code.
‘Simplicity is beauty’ so the saying goes. That is perhaps the best description for this casual footwear worn by scores of humanity. Simplicity is the distinctive quality sneakers have. The shoe design doesn’t need to be flamboyant. As long as it gives your feet the comfort, you can wear them for as long as you need.
Here are the 6 main parts of a sneaker:
The upper is the part around the foot. This part can be a singular piece or (depending on the shoe style) several woven parts. The material practically covers your entire foot, from the top to the sides and up to the back of the heel.
Materials used for the upper of sports or high-octane activity shoes are breathable polymers. For the more casual or fashionable style, an organic material like canvas or leather is normally used. As to its function, the upper keeps your foot secure to the sole during movement.
The toe box is not exactly square in shape. Its shape can also be pointed or round. There’s no other part of the sneaker that is found up front except the toe box.
The rear end of a sneaker for that matter is the heel. Shoe manufacturers today concentrate on the cushion and they make use of technology to come up with new innovations for improving comfort.
Sneaker freaks are after the ultimate protection, which they need when jogging, running, training, or shooting hoops.
The tongue is the most renowned part of the sneaker. It’s the bit of the sneaker that’s underneath the shoelaces. When you look closely, the tongue is the only movable or if not flappable part of the sneaker.
When you tie up your shoelaces, the latest and innovative tongue designs ensure your feet stay snug and provide high levels of comfort.
The sole or the ‘outsole’ is the core of the sneaker which is in effect, the most valuable part there is. This part joins all the components of the sneaker just like the human heart would with all its chambers.
The sole consists of the outsole and midsole of the sneaker. The midsole provides the wearer with the cushioning required when walking or running. Many of the manufacturers have their owned patented technologies to help boost comfort along the sole of the foot. It is one of the most important features on a shoe if you re looking for a comfortable sneaker.
Consider this construction set-up: the shoemaker stitches the upper to the sole; then places the inner sole to rest on the midsole and then covers the shoe with the outsole. Thus, you can’t expect shoe stability in the absence of the sole.
The versatility and durability of the sneakers are always anchored on the sole. Your shoe will live or die by the sole. The tougher the sole, the longer your affair with your precious sneakers will be.
To reiterate the earlier description, the inner sole or ‘insole’ is the part of the sneaker your foot touches. The primary purpose is to guarantee the wearer comfort, support, and stability.
This part has been modified with modular drop-in insoles or as add-on cushioning or arch support. The main function of the inner sole is to safeguard your arch and keep your feet in place every time you walk, run or move.
Choose Your Footwear Sensibly
No one goes barefoot these days because there are thousands of shoes out there to suit everyone. The parts of a sneaker are no different from the parts in a shoe as it’s still a shoe. But as it is one of the most comfortable types of shoe ever made, it deserves a special mention and separate examination.
Nevertheless, whether you prefer a casual, formal or sporty style shoe, choose your footwear sensibly. If you care for your feet, don’t buy shoes ‘solely’ because they look good. We can all be culprits of this.
But, instead do yourself a favor and ask your feet, “How do they make me feel?” Only you as the wearer know what the answer really is. If they fit you well and look good then there you have it. You have found a great shoe.
However, it is essential that you carry out your own research and make the right decision. Because lets face it, you will be wearing the shoes and so I am sure you want something that works for you.