What does it really take to make a sneaker?

shutterstock_7966030Making A Sneaker

The sneaker is a staple of the modern world.  Children and adults around the world have closets full of them. How do sneakers get made and who makes them?

What does it take to make a sneaker?

It takes an army of people. People to design, develop, manufacture and deliver the sneakers to you. Hundreds of people from shoe designers, shoe developers, pattern makers, tooling technicians, product managers, production teams, stitchers, rubber pressers, purchasing agents, material cutters, and outsole gluers.

Shoe Parts

A modern shoe, sneaker, tennis shoe – whatever you choose to call it, is really a 3-dimensional puzzle of plastic, fabric, rubber, and leather. Even the simplest shoe may have 50 separate parts. First, these parts all need to be collected into the same room, at the same time. Next, they need to fit together, and be the correct color! Not to mention the shoe box and the packing tape. Now think about all the sizes! This complicated collection of pieces and parts is not put together in just one size. An entire size run is needed. A standard men’s shoe will have 14 sizes!  Now imagine that shoe is made in 6 colors.

Let’s do the math:  50 different parts x 14 sizes x 6 different colors = 4,200 different parts to specify, order, and fabricate. Imagine a small shoe company with 100 models and 420,000 parts to collect, now imagine a large shoe company like Nike with over 1000 different models!  4,200,000 different parts and those 1000 models are changed or updated 3 times per year or more resulting in 12 million different parts to track and organize.

Last year Nike sold 120 million pairs of shoes…..that’s around 6 billion shoe parts.

What seems so simple is a very, very, complicated endeavor.
Learn more at our Online Shoe School

Learn more about making shoes:

Footwear design book Free PFD Shoe Design Book DownloadDo 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

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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

If you want to learn more, check out our new books.

Print Editions and Instant Downloads Available Now!

E-Book edition 220 pages. PC and Mac compatible PDF file. Download Now!

E-Book edition 170 pages. PC and Mac compatible PDF file. Download Now!

Now enjoy the double download of two Sneaker Factory books.

Print Edition, 250 Pages with over 400 color photos and drawings.

Print Edition, 220 pages with over 400 color photos and drawings.

A must have for anyone serious about launching a new footwear company!

E-Book edition 170 pages. Profit margin and Size run calculators. Download Now!

Download Edition + Paper Pattern + Blue Prints and Spec sheets

Start-up Pack is all you need to get your own shoe business started.

Print Edition + Paper Pattern + Blue Prints and Spec sheets

A complete technical specification, drawings, blueprint, pattern and spec.

Computer cut shoe pattern for a classic jogger.  Factory Blue Print included.

Entire pattern size run for the Arris classic trainer, Men’s US 7-13 (Euro 39-47)

Shoe last measuring step. Measures last heel lift from 1cm to 11.5 cm.

24 inch tape specifically designed for measuring shoe lasts.

Ready to Print! Men's size 9 last. The .STL file can be scaled in X, Y and Z.

Great for checking leathers and synthetic materials. Features adjustable dial.

Beaked pincers with built in hammer face. For shoe lasting and sole nailing.

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Great for DIY Shoemaking. This casual rubber outsole is durable, comfortable, and easy to work with.