Shoe Quality Inspections: How to Inspect a Shoe
You will never look at shoes the same way again…….once you know how to professionally inspect a pair of shoes. Quality is a very important feature of any shoe you may make, buy, or sell.
Knowing how to run a shoe quality inspection is a critical skill for shoe designers, developers, and product line managers. When a new sample arrives it is critical to inspect the materials, assembly technique, and workmanship. Knowing how to inspect a shoe is also a great skill to have as a shoe buying customer in a store. So, here is how to grade and inspect a shoe like a professional!
Definition of Shoe inspection quality “A”, “B”, “C” – Grades
Shoes without any functional defects or cosmetic defects that will impair the marketability of the shoe are A-grade. These are high quality shoes, they look good and fit correctly. An A grade must follow the production specifications and match the approved confirmation sample.
Shoes without any major functional defects and which will not cause injury to the person wearing the shoes are B-grade. These shoes may have cosmetic defects, production mistakes, or workmanship issues that cannot be properly repaired. These shoes will be discounted and/or diverted to markets more tolerant of cosmetic defects.
C-grade shoes have major functional defects that could cause injury to the wearer, or major cosmetic defects that cannot be repaired. Shoes are also considered C-grade if they have poor workmanship or materials defects that could shorten the normal life expectancy of the shoe, or damage the companies reputation. These shoes should be destroyed.
How to inspect a shoe:
The main points in a shoe inspection are as follows:
#1. Is this the correct shoe, a matched pair?
#2. Is the shoe clean?
#3. Does the shoe follow the specification?
#4. Is the workmanship high quality?
#5. Is the shoe damaged in any way?
Let’s Inspect a shoe!
The first step in any inspection is to review the shoe packaging.
Is the shoe in the correct inner box for its model?
Is the box presentable? Make sure the box is not damaged or dirty.
Is the box the correct size? The shoe should not be crushed inside a small box.
Confirm the information on the box end label matches the shoe Color/Model/Size.
Check any hang tags to make sure they are correct for the shoe.
Remove the shoes from the packing box.
Do you have a left and right?
Are the shoes the same size and color?
Check the shoe tongue label information –
I know this sounds crazy but in the factory it’s not hard to put a right size 7 and a left size 7.5 into the same box.
Holding the shoe, place the shoes bottom to bottom.
Check them for symmetry. Does the pair really match in length? The size marks match but are they the same length?
Now, holding the shoe from the bottom, roll the uppers together side by side.
You are now checking the alignment of the shoe parts. Starting from the front, roll the shoes to align the parts, toe caps, vamps, overlays, eye stays, and eyelets.
While you have the uppers side by side compare finish and colors of each part.
Next, hold the shoes up looking at the heels. Make sure the shoes sit on the outsole straight. Check that the upper is not rotated off center.
Now, rolling the the heels together, check that the back height and collar lines match.
At this point, study the shoe bottoms. Do they match? Are the color blocks in the same location? Look over the midsole sidewall for wrinkles. Check the seam joining the upper to the outsole. Look out for any extra glue on the upper. 2mm is the limit for “over glueing.” Also look for over buffing of the upper.
On the shoe bottom check for color bleeding between color blocks. Look for any paint covering mistakes. Check to make sure the outsole parts fit together neatly without any extra glue.
A complete inspection means the shoe is checked inside and out. Now that we looked over the outside it’s time to dive in. Look inside the shoe opening. Is the lining clean and without wrinkles? Run your hand around the collar, feel for any lump, bumps or glue. For leather shoes, be on the lookout for any lasting nails or staples. For sport shoes, make sure the footbed is straight, level, and fitting correctly. If the footbed is too small it may slide around, too big and the footbed may wrinkle or curl.
Next, inspect the tongue lining for wrinkles and lumps. Run your hand down inside to check the vamp and toe cap from inside. Feel around the toe along footbed for lasting wrinkles. Feel for any rough stitching inside.
Finally, make a quick check of the laces. Too long is not usually a big problem, too short will have to be fixed!
Common Shoe Quality Problems
When inspecting a shoe there are common things you should be looking for: Is the shoe clean? (White shoes can be hard to make in a dirty factory.) Color matching of shoe parts, (suede and natural leathers can be tricky.) Material quality? Is the suede hairy? Rough trimming or rough cutting. Upper wrinkles? Check around the collar foam.
A Final Word on Shoe Quality
When inspecting, it’s critical to decide if the problems you see are a “one-off” mistake or a systematic problem that will effect every shoe? Remember, inside the factory each operation is done by the same worker. If the vamp stitcher is having a bad day you may see lots of crooked stitching on a vamp.
If you are inspecting shoes “inbound” inside your warehouse, you already own the problem. Ask yourself, how did this shoe get this far? Who missed these problems inside the factory before the shoes shipped? Heads should be rolling! Your factory has a QC system flaw. Can you “fix” your factory? Maybe you need to find a new one?
Learn more about shoe quality and shoe inspections Please check out Chapter 25 on Quality Control in the book:
How Shoes are Made.
Learn more about making shoes:Do you want to learn how big brands make shoes? Now you can! How Shoes are Made will show you how modern shoes come to life! More than just a tour through a sneaker factory and more than your average shoe making book! From drawing shoe designs to sample development and footwear manufacturing, you will learn how it is all done. Written by veteran shoemaking pros, How Shoes are Made will give you a look inside the REAL world of shoe design, development, and mass production. 220 pages with over 400 color photos and drawings. 26 chapters explaining shoe design, footwear pattern making, sample development, footwear materials selection, upper stitching, outsole and tooling design, shoe lasts, shoe costing, quality inspections, starting you own shoe brand, and much more! A must read for young shoe designers, sneaker heads, or any footwear fanatic! Over 2500 copies sold! Read in 60 Countries! See Preview Video On YouTube
Print Edition Now Available!
Table of Contents:The Design Process, Shoe Development, Shoe Patterns, Shoe Specifications, Outsole Tooling, Development Process, Pre-Production, Material Preparation, Stitching Operations, Rubber Pressing, EVA Forming, The Assembly Line, The Shoe Last, Footwear Costing, Importing Shoes, Shoe Logo Design, Leather for Shoes, Textiles for Shoes ,Synthetics for Shoes, Foam for Shoes, Know Your Footbeds, Material Suppliers, Shoe Designers Tools, Jobs in the Shoe Trade ,Quality Control, Starting a Shoe Company, Life at a Shoe Factory, Shoe Making Dictionary
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