Shoe glossary: anatomy and classification of classic footwear

Shoe glossary: anatomy and classification of classic footwear

In this dictionary you will find definitions for lots of various shoe terms — ranging from shoe styles and parts of shoe uppers to types of leather and soles.

  • Adelaide is a style of oxford shoe that has a U-shaped seam around the lacing area and no side seams. Adelaide shoes always have closed lacing, so even if you take out the laces, you can bend the quarters back only a bit.
  • Algonquin is a style of shoe with so-called split toes, a small flat toe seam and a puckered moccasin-like seam on vamp and toes.
  • Aniline leather, Aniline dyed leather is a type of leather dyed with soluble/aniline dyes, which don't seal its pores and don't hide its texture. Aniline leather is highly praised by connoisseurs; it's very breathable, and it can get a beautiful patina. However, it's also more susceptible to water and dirt than semi-aniline and pigmented leather.
  • Antique leather is a type of leather which got aged naturally or artificially. It has a vintage and unique appearance.
  • Apron toe is a type of toe with a puckered moccasin-like seam. It's less formal than a toe without such a seam (for example, a cap toe or a plain toe).
  • Austerity brogue is a style of shoe with W-shaped toe seams but without brogueing (i.e. without decorative perforations).
  • Balmoral is a style of oxford shoe (i.e. shoe with closed lacing — if you take the laces out, you will be able to bend the quarters back just a little bit). Americans often use this term to refer to any oxford shoes, but in fact balmorals are oxfords with long and straight side seams.
  • Belgian loafers are shoes without lacing but with heels, a mocassin-like seam on the forepart of the upper and a small bow on the vamp.
  • Bentivegna is a welted shoe construction used by several Italian shoemakers. It's sturdy, durable and waterproof. At first the welt is attached to the insole and the upper; then it's stitched to the midsole, and later the midsole and the outsole are sewed together. Sometimes the welt is also stitched to the midsole and the outsole. All stitching is done by hand. The welt always bends upwards to the upper. Occasionally Bentivegna construction is called Tirolese. It is also very similar (nearly identical) to Goyser construction (see below).
  • Bespoke shoes are a very rare and expensive kind of shoes. They are sewn on unique lasts created according to a set of client's foot measumerents. Good bespoke shoes are characterised by a perfect (or almost perfect) fit.
  • Blake construction is a popular type of shoe construction, which is often used by Italian shoe factories. Blake-stitched shoes have no functional welts, but sometimes they feature decorative welts. The upper is sewed directly to the insole and the outsole by a Langhorn machine. The main advantages of Blake construction are comparatively low production costs, lightness and flexibility of shoes. However, Blake-stitched shoes are usually less waterproof and less durable than Goodyear welted ones. Sometimes Blake construction is called McKay construction.
  • Blake Rapid is a rare type of shoe construction. At first the upper is attached to the insole and the midsole, and then the midsole is sewed to the outsole. There is no functional welt, but lots of people think that Blake Rapid shoes are welted (because they look like Goodyear welted footwear). This construction is more waterproof and durable than Blake, but its production costs are higher.
  • Bluchers are a type of shoe with open lacing (in other words, if you take the laces out, you'll be able to bend the quarters back almost 180 degrees). Americans often use this term to refer to any shoes with open lacing (i.e. derby shoes), but in fact not every shoe with open lacing is a blucher, because bluchers should have very small eyelet facings (i.e. pieces of leather with holes for laces). These eyelet facings are sewn on top of the quarters, which are inseparable from the vamp (i.e. the quarters and the vamp are made of the same piece of leather).
  • Bologna is a shoe construction used mainly by Italian brands. At first the upper and the lining are rolled into a kind of tube and stitched; then the outsole is attached (usually using Blake/McKay construction method). The main advantages of Bologna construction are lightness, flexibility and a very high level of comfort. Sometimes Bologna construction is called Sacchetto.
  • Bookbinder leather is a type of leather with a very smooth and glossy appearance. This is a widespread variety of corrected-grain leather, which will be described below. Shoe connoisseurs are usually sceptical about it. This material is easy to care for, but it's not as comfortable and breathable as full-grain leather.
  • Boots are a type of footwear which covers the ankle. There are various kinds of boots; definitions for them are listed below.
  • Box calf is a full-grain calf leather dyed with high-quality soluble dyes at the tannery. It has open (i.e. non-sealed) pores and a uniform colour. Box calf is probably the most versatile leather for classic men shoes and boots. Brown box calf is sometimes called willow calf.
  • Brogues are shoes or boots with decorative perforations along one seam or several seams and (quite often) on toes. Decorative perforations lower the level of shoe formality. Brogues can have open or closed lacing; in other words, some brogues are oxfords, and others are derbies.
  • Broguing (or Brogueing) is a decorative perforation on shoes and the process of its creation.
  • Buck derby is a derby shoe made of buckskin suede. Nowadays this term is also used to refer to some derby shoes made of calf suede. Traditional buck derbies are white, and they are equipped with reddish rubber soles.
  • Buckle loafers are loafers with small decorative buckes and without lacing. They also feature a puckered moccasin-like seam on vamp and toes.
  • Budapester is a full brogue shoe with open lacing, thick double leather soles and roomy rounded toes. This style was once popular in Hungary and Austria. Budapester shoes are always informal and usually a bit rugged in appearance.
  • Burnished leather is a type of leather which was polished at a shoe factory/manufactory/atelier. It usually has a slight shine (not too prominent and not cheap); besides, it often has an antique appearance. Sometimes the term 'burnished' is used as a synonym for antique leather (and vice versa).
  • Button boots are boots with button fastening; they were very popular in the 1900-1920s, but nowadays you can see them very rarely. Button boots are usually produced of two different materials; they feature long side seams, and they usually look great and spectacular.
  • Calf is a type of leather which originates from calf. Its quality and appearance vary greatly, although it must be noted that the English usually use this term to refer to smooth full-grain calf leather (i.e. leather with natural grain, which was not corrected).
  • California construction is sometimes used to produce mid-priced footwear. It slightly resembles Blake construction. The upper and the insole are stitched to the midsole; then the outsole is glued to the midsole.
  • Cap toe is a toe which is 'separated' from the vamp by a short straight seam. It's less formal than a plain toe but more formal than a split toe or a wingtip toe.
  • Cemented construction is one of the simplest shoe constructions. The outsole is glued (cemented) to the upper. Cemented shoes can be quite durable and reliable if manufacturers use quality glue and do the job well. However, high-quality shoes are made in other constructions (except for house slippes).
  • Channel is a kind of 'trench' which holds the stitching that connects the welt and the outsole. In most cases, this stitching is visible on the bottom of the sole, but some shoes feature so-called closed channels so you won't see the stitching if you look at the bottom of the shoe.
  • Chelsea boots are relatively low boots without lacing but with elastic side panels. These boots are easy to put on and take off, and they're one of the most versatile shoe styles.
  • Chiseled toes are a kind of toes with angular shaped sides or with sharp edges and a sharply sloping front.
  • Chrome tanning is the process of leather tanning with the use of chrome salts. It takes significantly less time than traditional vegetable tanning, which will be briefly explained below. Chrome tanned leather can be elastic, hard-wearing and durable. Uppers of classic shoes and boots are usually made of this leather.
  • Chukka boots are boots with open lacing (i.e. if you take out laces, you'll be able to bend quarters back almost 180 degrees). It must be added that chukka boots have only 2 or 3 pairs of eyelets (i.e. lace holes).
  • Clicking is the process of cutting a hide into several parts, which will be sewed together soon thereafter. Clicking can be done by hand or with the use of machines. Handwork is praised higher, but it's more expensive as well.
  • Closed channel (stitching) is one of high-quality shoe hallmarks. If welted shoes feature soles with closed channels, the stitching that connects the welt and the outsole is not visible on the bottom of the outsole. If we are talking about Blake shoes with closed channels, the stiching that connects the insole, the upper and the outsole is invisible on the bottom of the outsole. Closed channel stitching technique increases production costs. It's important to remember that rubber soles cannot have closed channels... and that you can find cemented (glued) shoes with fake (decorative) welts — they don't have any stitching on the bottom of the sole because the sole is simply glued to the upper.
  • Closed lacing is a type of lacing system usually characterised by quarters that are attached under the vamp, but sometimes the vamp and the quarters are made of the same piece of leather, and very rarely the quarters are made of the same piece of leather and attached on top of the vamp (made of another piece of leather). In any of these three cases, if you take the laces out, you will be able to bend the quarters back just a little bit. Shoes with closed lacing are more formal than shoes with open laching (all else being equal), but they are usually less suitable for people with a high instep.
  • Closing is the process of sewing shoe upper parts together as well as the process of brogueing (punching) and edges treatment.
  • Commando sole is a thick and durable rubber sole produced by Harboro Rubber company. It has a very good grip, but it also must be noted that Commando soles are informal and therefore not suitable for dress shoes.
  • Cordovan is a specially treated membrane from the rump of the horse. Cordovan is durable and hard-wearing, but it's also expenisive and a bit stiff. Most cordovan shoes feature a noticeable shine, but some exceptions do exist.
  • Cork is a good material for filling the hollow space between the insole/midsole and the outsole. Eventually, the cork filler takes the form of your feet; besides, it provides proper support for your feet and protects them from the cold and the heat. Nowadays most producers use a cork paste; cork plates are the best option, but they're more expensive.
  • Corrected grain leather is a type of leather with corrected (sanded, buffed) surface. Quality and appearance of corrected-grain leather vary greatly. It often has a shiny coating, and in this case it's also referred to as bookbinder leather (see above) and polished leather (see below). Besides, corrected-grain leather quite often features various prints.
  • Counter is a shoe component which gives the shape and the necessary firmness to the back part of a shoe. It's made of leather, leatherboard or plastic. Counters are always hided between the outer part of the upper and the lining.
  • Crepe soles are soles made of crepe rubber with a rough surface. They're very comfortable and lightweight, but it should also be added that crepe soles are informal and slippery (i.e. their grip leaves much to be desired).
  • Cutting/Pattern cutting is the process of creating patterns for cutting out various parts of the shoe upper. At first shoemakers wrap the last with an adhesive tape / canvas; then they draw necessary lines on the tape, making a sketch of a shoe model. After that the tape is detached from the last and used to create patterns which serve as templates for cutting hides into various components of the shoe upper. Nowadays pattern cutting can be done with the help of computers, but some shoemakers still perform this process manually.
  • Dainite is a hard-wearing, durable and moderately thin rubber sole, which is produced in Great Britain by Harboro Rubber company. It's suitable even for dress shoes (except most formal ones). The only disadvantage is the mediocre grip — that's why Dainite soles are not recommened for walking on very slippery surfaces (especially ice).
  • Deck shoes, topsiders are informal shoes with open lacing, a puckered seam on the forepart of the upper and rubber soles with very slightly pronounced heels.
  • Derby is a shoe with open lacing, i.e. it features quarters which are sewn on top of the vamp. If you take out laces, you will be able to bend the quarters back almost 180 degrees. Derby shoes are less formal than oxfords (all else being equal), but they are better suited to people with a high instep. Americans often refer to derby shoes as bluchers, but we've already explained the difference between these two terms (see above).
  • Desert boots are informal boots with open lacing (if you take out the laces, you'll be able to bend the quarters back almost 180 degrees). Desert boots feature crepe soles with a rough surface, and they have only two or three pairs of eyelets (lace holes). Their uppers are made of suede or nubuck.
  • Direct Attach, Direct Injection, Moulded is a widespread, durable and reliable shoe construction. The sole is formed in a special mould and fused to the upper. This construction method cannot be used to produce formal dress shoes because the sole should be made of polyurethane. Sometimes manufacturers use combination soles (polyurethane + TPU, for example), but polyurethane is always the key component in this case.
  • Double monks, Double monk straps are laceless shoes or boots with two buckles and two straps.
  • Double soles are a rare type of leather soles; they're more durable and considerably less formal than single soles.
  • Eyelets are holes for laces.
  • Facings are pieces of leather with eyelets (i.e. with holes for laces).
  • Faux brogue (imitation brogue) is a very rare style of shoe which resembles a 'true' brogue. The difference is not evident. Uppers of 'true' brogues are sewed from several pieces of leather which partially overlap each other — and punching (brogueing) is done in exactly those places where one piece of leather overlaps another. Faux brogues feature brogueing even where there is no overlapping. They usually look a bit less rugged than 'true' brogues.
  • Filler is a layer of cork between the outsole (or the midsole) and the insole. Gradually, it takes the shape of your feet. Moreover, it gives them proper support and protects them from the cold. Today most brands use a malleable cork paste, but cork plates are praised higher.
  • Finishing is the final production process in shoemaking. At this stage shoemakers paint and polish soles and their edges as well as heels; besides, they burnish / polish shoe uppers. Aside from that, this term is sometimes used to refer to results of this process, the finish of the shoes.
  • Fit is a degree to which the shoe shape corresponds to the shape of your foot. It directly affects the level of comfort. It must be noted that even if a shoe seems to fit well at first, it may become uncomfortable during long walks (and vice versa, if a shoe is uncomfortable at first, its fit may improve after a time). The great fit is one of the most important features of bespoke shoes, which are produced on unique lasts created according to a set of client's foot measumerents. However, ready-to-wear shoes can fit very well too. The degree to which the shape of the shoe corresponds to shape of the foot placed inside. Since people have differently-shaped and -sized feet, a perfect shoe fit can only be achieved through customisation.
  • Footbed is a removable insole, which provides support for your feet and makes shoes more comfortable. Besides, footbeds can be used to slightly adjust the size and the fit of the shoes. Footbeds are made of leather, latex / latex foam, felt, cork, etc.
  • Footbed filler is a cork filler used to fill the space between the insole and the outsole (or the midsole).
  • Front is a part of a shoe upper located betweed the toe and the quarters, i.e. it covers the forepart of your foot (except fingers). Sometimes it's referred to as 'vamp'. It must be noted that in some cases the front, the toe and/or the quarters are made of the same piece of leather.
  • Full brogues are shoes or boots with decorative perforations on toes and along all or almost all seams. They also feature W-shaped seams on toes.
  • Full-grain leather, full grain leather is a high-quality leather with a non-corrected/natural surface. Pores are visible and open; as a result, this leather is breathable and comfortable to wear. Besides, it can get a beautiful patina with the lapse of time.
  • Gimped edge is a notched/toothed edge.
  • Gimping is the process of edge notching.
  • Glaçage is the mirror shine on shoes or the process of mirror shining shoes. Glaçage makes the toe area of your shoes more spectacular and waterproof. It's important to remember that glaçage is usually done only on toes and (more rarely) back part of a shoe. You can do it by yourself with a shoe wax/polish, water and a shoe polishing cloth; althernatively, you can go to a shoe shine professional and get the best result.
  • Glazing is the process of treating leather with glass cylinders. It's performed by so-called glazing jacks (glazing machines) operated by experienced workers. The glazing process makes leather very smooth, moderately shiny and deeply coloured.
  • Glazed leather is a type of leather treated by machines with glazing cylinders (glazing jacks). Glazed leather is very smooth; it has a prominent shine and a deep colour.
  • Goodyear Welted is a quite rare shoe construction with high production costs. Goodyear welted shoes or boots always feature a welt (i.e. a long and narrow strip of leather). At first this welt is attached to the upper and the insole; then it's sewed (and glued) to the outsole. Goodyear welted shoes are durable and sturdy; besides, they provide good support for feet.
  • Goyser is a welted construction of shoes and boots, which is sometimes used by Hungarian shoemakers. At first the welt is stitched to the upper and the insole; then it's attached to the midsole, and later the midsole, the welt and the outsole are sewed together. All this stitching is done exclusively by hand. The welt bends upwards to the upper. Goyser construction is praised for its durability and moisture resistance. It is very similar to Bentivegna and Tirolese constructions.
  • Grain leather is a quite vague term. It can be used to refer to pebblegrain or Scotch grain leather, which has a very prominent grain pattern applied with a pressing machine. However, some kinds of leather have a prominent natural grain pattern (for example, deerskin).
  • Half brogues are shoes with cap toes and decorative perforations along several seams. Besides, they usually feature so-called medallions on toes (i.e. patterns of decorative perforations). Sometimes half brogues are called semi brogues/semi-brogues.
  • Hand-welted is a shoe construction used mainly by bespoke shoemakers (although you can find ready-to-wear shoes with hand-sewn welts too). Unlike Goodyer welted shoes, hand-welted ones feature welts sewn to the upper and the insole by hand.
  • Hand-welted shoes are praised higher than Goodyear welted ones, but they cost more (all else being equal).
  • Heel is a part of a shoe located under the heel of your foot and the back part of the shoe sole. Sometimes this term is used to refer to the back part of a shoe that covers the human heel.
  • Heel counter/Heel stiffener is a heel component which gives the shape and the necessary firmness to the back part of a shoe. It can be made of leather, leatherboard or plastic. Counters are hided between the outer part of the upper and the lining.
  • Heel lifts are small pieces of leather, rubber or leatherboard which are attached to each other in order to form the heel.
  • Holzgenagelt is a rare men shoe construction used by several Austrian shoemakers. The outsole is attached to the upper by lots of small wooden nails.
  • Insole is a foot-shaped piece of leather, leatherboard or another material located inside the shoe (on the bottom). High-quality insoles are made of good vegetable tanned leather; budget insoles can be made of low-quality leather or leatherboard.
  • Insole channel is a channel carved around the perimeter of the insole. It's surrounded by a ridge ('a lip'), to which the welt is attached. These details are typical only for Hand-welted shoes (described above). Mass-produced Goodyear welted shoes are usually made using thin leather insoles with glued textile ribs.
  • Instep is the arched middle part of the foot or the part of a shoe that fits over the foot instep.
  • Jodhpur is a style of boot that has a long strap and a buckle. Jodhpur boots have much longer straps than monks; besides, their quarters are attached under the vamp, while quarters of monk strap boots are sewed on top of the vamp.
  • Lace-up shoes are those with a laced fastening, which can be open (on derbys and bluchers) or closed (on oxfords).
  • Lacing is a laced fastening of a shoe. There are two types of lacing: closed one (found on oxfords) and open one (found on bluchers and derbys).
  • Last is a model of foot which is used as a foundation for 'building' shoes. Lasts can be made of wood, plastic and even aluminium.
  • Lasting is the process of pulling the upper on the last to give it the necessary shape. Lasting can be done completely by hand, completely by machines or by hand and machines.
  • Leatherboard is a composite material made of leather and cellulose fibers (leather scraps waste paper, wood pulp, etc.). Leatherboard is sometimes used to produce insoles, heel lifts and heel stiffeners/counters. Of course, leatherboard is valued lower than genuine leather, but it's not the worst option.
  • Leather sole is a sole made entirely (or mostly) of leather. It's the most traditional type of sole. Thin leather soles are considered the most formal soles in the world, but they can be used to produced informal footwear too. It must be noted that leather soles are slippery, and they are usually not waterproof.
  • Lining is a layer of leather or another material inserted into shoes. High-quality shoes usually have full leather linings, but sometimes they are unlined. Synthetic and so-called half leather linings are valued lower than full leather ones; they can be less breathable and less comfortable. Most high-quality linings are made of vegetable tanned calfskin or kidskin; they're hypoallergenic, very breathable and have great moisture absorption. Winter shoes and boots are equipped with fur linings or high-tech synthetic linings.
  • Loafers are laceless shoes with heels; they usually feature a moccasin-like seam on the forepart of the upper. The vamp can be decorated with small buckles, tassels, bows or a strip of leather with a diamond-shaped slit.
  • Longwing bluchers are shoes with open lacing and long straight side seams. Besides, they usually feature decorative perforations; most longwing bluchers are full brogues.
  • Longwing brogues are a style of brogues with W-shaped toes, long straight side seams and decorative perforations along all seams as well as on toes.
  • Lyra perforation is the most common pattern of decorative perforations along seams. 'Lyra' consists of a series of decorative holes which are arranged in the following order: a relatively large hole, then two small holes on top of one another, then a large hole again, and so on.
  • Medallion is a pattern of decorative perforations located on toes.
  • Midsole is a layer between the insole and the oustole. It can be made of leather, rubber, synthetic materials. Most shoes and boots don't have a midsole.
  • Moccasins, mocs are informal shoes without heels and laces. They have a puckered seam on the forepart of the upper and thin flexible soles (or even rubber studs instead of a sole). The vamp is often decorated with a bow or a strip of leather with a diamond-shaped cutout.
  • Moccasin construction is a quite vague term. It can be used to refer to any shoes with a puckered seam on the forepart of the upper; these shoes can be made in various constructions. True Moccasin construction is a bit similar to Bologna construction. One piece of leather is wrapped around the last; then another piece of leather is sewed on top of it to form the vamp. Thereafter a set of rubber studs or a thin outsole is attached. Sometimes moccasins don't have a separate outsole at all.
  • Moc toe is a type of toe with a puckered seam. It can be found on some derby shoes, loafers, moccasins, informal boots. Moc toes are less formal than plain toes and cap toes.
  • Monks, Monk straps are laceless shoes with buckles and straps.
  • MTM (Made-to-measure) is a quite rare kind of shoes sewn on existing lasts which were slightly modified accodring to client's foot measumerents. Clients usually can choose model, last, upper leather, lining leather, sole, etc.
  • MTO (Made-to-order) is a kind of shoes crafted to order on existing lasts; clients can choose model, last, upper leather, lining leather, sole. Sometimes last modifications are also possible — that's why the line between MTO and MTM concepts is quite blurring.
  • Museum calf is a rare variety of full-grain calf leather (i.e. calf leather with a non-corrected surface and open pores). It's dyed at the tannery, but in contrast to box calf, it has patchy and unique appearance. The most famous producer of museum calf leather is the Italian tannery Ilcea.
  • Natural edge is an edge without any treatment.
  • Norvegese is a waterproof shoe construction used mainly by Italian shoemakers. The upper is slightly turned outwards at the edges and then stitched to the insole. Thereafter the upper, the midsole and the outsole are attached to each other by the second seam. There is no welt, but sometimes there is the third seam which connects the midsole to the outsole.
  • Norwegian split toes are a kind of toes with a puckered moccasin-like seam and an additional short puckered seam. These toes are considerably less formal than plain toes and cap toes.
  • Norwegian welted is a rare waterproof shoe construction; it's similar to Goodyear welted and Norvegese constructions. The upper is slightly turned outwards at the edges and then stitched to the insole, the lining and the welt. Thereafter the upper, the welt and the outsole are stitched to each other. Sometimes there is a midsole. Norwegian welted shoes and boots are durable, waterproof and sturdy.
  • Nubuk is napped leather created from the outer layer of a calf's or cow's hide that has been buffed or sanded. Sometimes it is greased or oiled to waterproof.
  • Oak bark tanning is the traditional way of tanning leather for soles. During this process, only natural tanning agents are used (oak bark and bark of other trees). Oak bark tanning takes a lot of time (sometimes more than a year), but it allows to create light, comfortable and durable soles. Sometimes oak bark tanning is referred to as oak pit tanning.
  • Oak bark tanned soles are those created from leather that undergone oak bark tanning process (it was described above). The most famous producers of these soles are J. Rendenbach (Germany) and J&FJ Baker (England).
  • Oiled leather is a type of leather treated with oils. It's waterproof and informal.
  • One-piece/wholecut is a thing made of only one piece of leather (i.e. without seams).
  • Open lacing is a type of lacing system characterised by eyelets (i.e. holes for laces) located on quarters which are sewn on top of the vamp. Sometimes the eyelets are located on small pieces of leather which are also sewn on top of the vamp (in this case the quarters and the vamp are made of the same piece of leather). If you take out the laces, you will be able to bend the quarters back almost 180 degrees. Shoes or boots with open lacing are less formal than ones with closed lacing (all else being equal), but they are usually more suitable for people with a high instep.
  • Opera pumps are black patent shoes without laces but with silk bows. They are designed for wearing with tuxedos and dress coats, so it's a very formal kind of shoe. Nowadays most people wear black patent oxford shoes instead of opera pumps.
  • Outsole is an external sole, i.e. it comes in direct contact with the ground.
  • Oxford shoes/oxfords are shoes with closed lacing. They are usually characterised by quarters that are attached under the vamp, but you may also find two other kinds of oxfords. Sometimes the vamp and the quarters are made of the same piece of leather, and very rarely the quarters are made of the same piece of leather and attached on top of the vamp (made of another piece of leather). In any of these cases, if you take laces out, you can bend quarters back just a little bit. Oxfords are more formal than derby shoes (all else being equal), but they are usually less suitable for people with a high instep. The French often refer to oxford shoes as 'Richelieu', and Americans frequently use term 'balmoral' to refer to any oxford shoes (but we have already explained that the balmoral is one of oxford shoes varieties — see above).
  • Patent leather is a type of leather with a polyurethane or acrylic coating and a smooth and shiny surface. It's very formal.
  • Patina is an acquired change of a leather surface (a bit spotty, patchy and unique colouring). It can be natural or artificial. The natural patina develops with time due to leather ageing and use of shoe polish and creams. The artificial patina is created at a shoe atelier or a factory. It must be noted that not every shoe can develop a patina.
  • Patterns are templates for cutting out various parts of the shoe upper. They are created during the pattern cutting process.
  • Pebble grain leather is a kind of leather with a very prominent grain pattern applied with a pressing machine. Sometimes it's greased or waxed. Pebble grain leather is always informal; besides, it's usually resistant to rain and dirt, so it's a good choice for rainy, snowy and dirty weather. Some people refer to pebble grain leather as Scotch grain leather.
  • Penny loafers are laceless shoes with heels, a moccasin-like seam and a strip of leather with a diamond-shaped slit located on the upper.
  • Pigmented leather is a type of leather dyed with insoluble dyes/pigments. It has closed pores and relatively low or even zero breathability, so it's less comfortable than aniline leather (described above). Besides, it cannot develop a patina. On the other hand, pigmented leather is more resistant to water, rain and dirt than aniline leather.
  • Plain toe is a type of toe without any seams. Plain toes are more formal than any other toes.
  • Plain toe blucher is a shoe with open lacing and toes without any seams or decorative perforations. Eyelets (i.e. holes for laces) are located on small pieces of leather which are sewn on top of the vamp.
  • Pointed toe is a type of toe with a strongly tapered and elongated shape. Shoes with pointed toes can look great or awful — it depends on design. We recommend to avoid shoes with very pointed toes.
  • Polished leather is a quite vague term. It can be used to refer to shiny corrected-grain leather like Bookbinder one (described above) or to high-quality full-grain leather polished to a very noticeable shine.
  • Pull-up aniline leather is a type of leather dyed with soluble/aniline dyes and then greased and waxed. It has a very informal and a bit rugged appearance; besides, it's durable and waterproof. Pull-up aniline leather can develop a great patina.
  • Punching is the process of creating decorative perforations at the edges of shoe upper parts.
  • Punch cap/punched cap is a shoe with a cap toe and decorative perforations along the seam that separates the toe from the vamp.
  • Quarter is a part of the shoe upper that covers sides and (often) the rear part of the foot. Sometimes quarters are made of the same piece of leather as the vamp, but more often they are separated from the vamp and stitched to it.
  • Quarter brogue is a shoe with decorative perforations along the seam that separates the toe from the vamp. Besides, there can be decorative perforations along several other seams.
  • Rib (ridge) is an important part of welted shoes and boots. Goodyear welted shoes feature canvas ribs, which are glued to insoles and then stitched to the upper and the welt by machine. Hand-welted shoes feature leather ribs, which are cut out in insoles and then stitched to the upper and the welt by hand (it is the most traditional, time-consuming and costly tecnhnique).
  • Richelieu is a French term for oxford shoes.
  • Ridgeway soles are rubber soles produced in Great Britain by Ridgeway brand (Harboro Rubber company). They are durable, waterproof and moderately informal. We don't recommend to use shoes with Ridgeway soles for walking on very slippery surfaces.
  • Rounded toe is the most classic, versatile and win-win toe. It has a rounded shape.
  • RTW (ready-to-wear) is the most widespread kind of shoes and boots. Ready-to-wear footwear is avaliable in offline and online stores; it can be delivered to customers soon after payment.
  • Rubber sole is made of natural or synthetic rubber. Nowadays it is the most popular type of soles. Any rubber soles are waterproof, but their durability, prices and grip vary greatly.
  • Saddle oxfords are shoes with closed lacing and a saddle-shaped panel placed in the middle part of the shoe (across the instep). This panel contrasts with other parts of the shoe.
  • Scotch grain leather is a type of leather with a very prominent grain pattern applied with a pressing machine. Sometimes it is waxed or greased. Scotch grain leather is always informal; besides, it's usually resistant to rain and dirt, so it's a good choice for rainy, snowy and dirty weather. Some people refer to Scotch grain leather as pebble grain leather. Besides, it must be added that several brands use the term 'Scotch grain' / 'Scotchgrain' to refer to a coated canvas, which sometimes looks like genuine leather.
  • Semi aniline leather is a type of leather dyed with soluble/aniline dyes and slightly pigmented; it usually features a thin protective coat. Semi aniline leather has visible pores, but it is less breathable than aniline leather. It can get only a slight patina over time, and it's less susceptible to water and dirt than aniline leather.
  • Semi brogues, semi-brogues are shoes or boots with cap toes and decorative perforations along several seams. Besides, they often feature so-called medallions on toes (i.e. patterns of decorative perforations). Sometimes semi brogues are called half-brogues.
  • Sestriere are rubber soles made in Italy by Sestriere brand. They look like Dainite soles, but are slightly less hard-wearing. Sestriere soles can be used even for dress shoes (except the most formal ones).
  • Shaft is the part of a boot which covers your leg. Sometimes this term is used to refer to the entire shoe upper (see below).
  • Shank is a long and narrow supportive piece placed betweed the insole and the outsole. It helps shoes retain their shape, gives them the necessary firmness and supports the arch of the foot. Shanks can be made of metal, leather, wood or plastic. Some shoes have no shank at all.
  • Shoe crease is a pronounced fold on shoes, which appears after some wear. Creasing is normal; in order to minimise it we recommend to find shoes that fit you best and to use shoe trees.
  • Shoe trees are important accessories which help shoes retain their shape and remove excessive moisture. The best shoe trees are made of wood and shaped like human feet.
  • Single monks, Single monk straps are laceless shoes with one buckle and one strap.
  • Single cutaway monks are laceless shoes with one strap and one buckle which is located quite far from the vamp. The strap 'looks' rather backwards than downwards.
  • Skiving is the process of thinning a piece of leather at edges or only at one edge. It can be done by machine or by hand (with help of simple tools).
  • Slippers are shoes without laces or another fastening — they're very easy to put on. This term is often used to refer to traditional house shoes made of velvet, suede or tweed and equipped with thin leather soles. However, some people use the term 'slippers' for any informal shoes without laces and other fastenings.
  • Slugging is the process of inserting slugs (i.e. small brass pins) into heels.
  • Sole is the bottom part of the shoe. It comes in direct contact with the ground. Soles can be made of leather, natural rubber, synthetic materials. Sometimes you will find shoes with soles made of leather with rubber inserts (or of rubber with leather inserts).
  • Spectators (Spectator shoes) are shoes made of two contrasting materials. They always have contrasting colours and sometimes contrasting textures (for example, leather + linen or leather + suede). Some people refer to spectators as co-respondent shoes.
  • Splitting is the process of dividing the hide into two or more layers. The highest layer is called top-grain leather; other layers are referred to as split leather. Of course, top-grain leather is valued higher than split leather.
  • Split leather is a type of leather made of the lower layer of the hide. It has an artificial grain applied with a pressing machine. Besides, split leather is often used to produce so-called split suede. Of course, split leather is valued lower than top-grain and full-grain leather.
  • Split toe is a type of toe characterised by a puckered moccasin-like seam and an additional short seam which 'splits' the toe into two parts. Split toes are less formal than plain toes and cap toes.
  • Square edge is a plain edge with the right angle (without gimping, notching or rounding).
  • Stitching is the process of sewing parts of the shoe upper together.
  • Stitch cap is a style of shoe with double stitching on cap toes.
  • Storm welt is a narrow strip of leather which is first sewed to the upper, the lining and the insole and then attached to the outsole. In contrast to the ordinary welt, the storm welt bends upwards to the upper in order to make shoes more waterproof.
  • Storm welted is a variety of Goodyear welted construction (described above). Storm welted shoes feature so-called storm welts which bend upwards to the upper. Like an ordinary welt, the storm welt is first sewed to the upper, the lining and the insole and then attached to the outsole. Storm welted shoes are more waterproof than ordinary Goodyear welted shoes.
  • Strobel construction is mainly used for crafting informal footwear. The upper and the lining are sewed to the insole; the outsole is either glued or attached by Direct Injection method (see above).
  • Suede is a napped leather made from the underside of the animal hide. The flesh side of the hide is rubbed to make a velvety nap. There are split suede (made of split leather) and full-grain suede (made of the more expensive layer of the hide). Full-grain suede looks finer and feels more luxurious, but it costs significantly more than split suede.
  • Tanning is the process of treating hides of animals with various agents to produce leather for making shoes, bags, etc. There are vegetable and chrome tanning techniques; besides, some tanneries use other methods.
  • Tassel loafers are laceless shoes with heels, a moccasin-like seam on the forepart of the upper and leather (or suede) tassels. They're slightly more formal than penny loafers but less formal than cap toe or plain toe oxford shoes.
  • Throat is a bit vague term. Some people use it to refer to the opening of a shoe extending from the vamp to the top edge of the tongue and covering the foot instep. According to another definition, the throat is the top part of the vamp.
  • Throat line is the top edge of the throat where the tongue is attached to the vamp.
  • Tirolese is a waterproof, sturdy and durable shoe construction. It's sometimes used by Italian shoemakers. At first the welt is stitched to the upper and the insole; then it's attached to the midsole, and later the outsole and the midsole are sewed together. Sometimes the welt is also stitched to the midsole and the outsole. The welt always bends upwards to the upper. All stitching is done by hand. Sometimes Tirolese construction is called Bentivegna. It is also very similar (nearly identical) to Goyser construction (described above).
  • Toe is the front part of the shoe upper.
  • Toe cap/toecap is a piece of leather sewed on top of the toe to reinforce and (not always, but often) decorate it. Toecaps can have decorative patterns and shapes.
  • Toe stiffener, toe puff, toe puff stiffener is a piece of material that gives the shape and the necessary firmness to the toe of a shoe. It can be made of leather, leatherboard, metal or plastic. Toe puff is located between the outer part of the upper and the lining.
  • Tongue is a part of a shoe located under the laces. It's sometimes made of the same piece of leather as the vamp.
  • Top-grain leather is a type of leather made of the outer part of the hide (in contrast to split leather). Top-grain leather is usually better than split leather, but its quality varies greatly.
  • Top piece (top lift) is the bottom layer of the heel. It is made solely of rubber or of leather with a rubber tip.
  • Triple stitch cap is a style of shoe with triple stitching on cap toes.
  • Trunk show is an event during which a brand presents its products to potential and existing customers, buyers, retailers, journalists, bloggers.
  • Unlined shoes are those that have no lining. They can be fine and durable.
  • Upper is the top part of the shoe located above the sole. It usually consists of the outer part, the lining, the toe puff/stiffener and the heel counter/stiffener (though you can also find unlined shoes without stiffeners). Sometimes the term 'upper' is used to refer to only the outer part of the upper, which in its turn can consist of several parts: the toe, the vamp, the quarters, the shaft, the tongue. Some of these parts (or even all these parts) can be made of the same piece of leather; in this case they have no clear boundaries. Sometimes the upper is referred to as the shaft (though the shaft is actually only a part of a boot upper; it covers your leg only).
  • Vamp is a part of a shoe upper located between the quarters and the toe. It covers the forepart of the foot except fingers. Sometimes the vamp, the quarters and/or the toe are made of the same piece of leather.
  • Vegetable tanning is the process of converting raw hides into leather with the use of exclusively vegetable agents (bark, leaves, fruits, etc.). It takes much more time than chrome tanning (described above).
  • Vegetable tanned leather is made of hides treated with vegetable tanning agents. It's usually more stiff and less elastic than chrome tanned leather. Besides, it's less resistant to water, sunlight and dirt, and it costs significantly more. On the other hand, vegetable tanned leather can get a more impressive and very deep patina; it is hypoallergenic, smells differently than chrome tanned leather and has better moisture absorption. Vegetable tanned leather is the best material for outsoles, insoles and linings, but uppers of high-quality dress shoes are usually made of chrome tanned leather.
  • Veldtschoen is a waterproof and sturdy shoe construction. The upper is slightly turned outwards at the edges and attached to the welt and the outsole; besides, the welt is stitched to the lining and the insole. Sometimes there is a midsole sewn to the upper and the welt.
  • Venetian loafers are laceless shoes with heels and a puckered moccasin-like seam on the forepart of the upper. They have no bows, buckles, tassels or other decorations.
  • Vulcanized construction is mainly used for crafting high-quality sneakers. At first the upper is pulled on the aluminium last; then the outsole is glued to the upper, and a so-called foxing tape is wrapped around the sides of the outsole (besides, it slightly overlaps up onto the upper). Thereafter sneakers are sent to the vulcanizing oven, where they are heated up to 100-110C. During this process, the outsole, the upper and the foxing tape firmly fuse together.
  • Waist is the middle part of a shoe sole. It can be square/regular (the most widespread option), beveled and fiddle (the rarest and the most praised option). Any rubber sole can have only a square/regular waist.
  • Waxed leather is a type of leather treated with waxes. It's informal, waterproof and resistant to snow and rain.
  • Welt is a narrow strip of leather, which can be decorative or functional. In case with Goodyear welted or Hand-welted shoes, the welt is first sewed to the upper, the lining and the insole; then it's attached to the outsole.
  • Welting is the process of attaching the welt to the shoe upper and the insole.
  • Wholecut is a shoe whose upper is made of only one piece of leather, so there is only one seam on the upper (moreover, sometimes there is no seam on the upper at all). Wholecuts always have closed lacing (i.e. they're always oxfords).
  • Wingtip is a toe with a W-shaped seam.
  • Wingtips, wingtip shoes are those with W-shaped seams on toes. In most cases they also feature decorative perforation along all or almost all seams as well as on toes.
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