Glossary

We've put together a glossary of shoemaking terms that are used frequently throughout this site. We hope it will help you to better understand the shoemaking process and level of craftsmanship that goes into making our hand made footwear. If you have any specific questions be sure to check out our FAQ page or contact us.

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B

Bison leather

Genuine American Buffalo leather (Bison leather) is over 40% stronger than traditional cowhide and is unparalleled in its softness, strength, and durability. Showcasing the beautiful marks of a range animal, the natural grain of bison hides is not corrected with artificial embossing or plating — resulting in the highest quality buttery soft, luxurious leather.

Blake Stitch

Blake stitch is a method of making shoes. It is especially popular in Italy. In 1856 Lyman Reed Blake invented the machine to make shoes in this manner. In a Blake construction, the outer sole is directly stitched to the insole; this allows more flexibility and lighter weight.

Blanket stitch

The blanket stitch is a stitch used to reinforce the edge of thick materials such as blankets . Depending on circumstances, it may also be called a whip stitch or a crochet stitch. It is defined as "A decorative stitch used to finish an unhemmed blanket or raw edge of leather .

Source: Wikipedia

Box Calf

Box calf is a high quality leather made from calfskin tanned with chromium salts, having a pattern of fine creases formed by boarding. Calfskin inherently shapes and moulds to the foot shape .

Brogues

The word brogue originates from Scotland where the original brogues had actual holes to allow water to fill and drain from the shoe as you walked through the Brog. Today the brogue is a decorative embellishment. Broguing is usually associated with a gimped/serrated edge. This means the edge of each pattern piece is cut with pinking shears or a gimping tool on a sewing machine. Brogue detailing can be found on a myriad of styles, oxford brogue, derby brogue and brogue boots.

Take a look at our fine range of Men's Brogues

C

Cordovan

Cordovan is a type of leather commonly used in making hard wearing durable shoes . Cordovan is an equine leather made from the fibrous flat muscle (or shell) beneath the hide on the rump of the horse. The leather derives its name from the city of Cordoba, Spain, where it was originally prepared by the Moors. Cordovan is desired for its smooth texture and its anti wrinkle finish . 

Source: Wikipidea

D

Derbys

Derby shoes are characterised by the back quarters with shoelace eyelets that are sewn on top of the vamp hence the term lace up derbys. This upper construction method also know as open lacing contrasts with that of the Oxford, where the back-quarter sits underneath the vamp. Derby shoe styles work best with a variety of foot shapes as the lacing allows the accommodation of a variety of foot shapes and sizes.

View our men's Derby shoes
View our women's Derby shoes

G

Ghillie Shoes

Ghillies are specially designed shoes used for several types of dance. They are soft shoes, similar to ballet shoes. They are used by women in Irish dance, by men in Scottish country dance, and by men and women in Highland dance. Ghillies are soft shoes, almost always made of a supple leather that forms to the foot. They use laces which criss-cross the top of the foot and are tied together similar to a sneaker. 

Source: Wikipedia

Goodyear Welt

A welt is a strip of leather that runs along the perimeter of the outsole and is stitched to the insole of the shoe . The space enclosed by the welt is then filled with cork or felt and the outsole is both cemented and stitched to the welt. This process of making shoes is referred to as Goodyear welt construction, as the machinery used for the process was invented in 1869 by Charles Goodyear Jr the son of Charles Goodyear tyre fame . Traditional handstitched welts do not require any machinery instead the welt is stitched by hand to the insole then the outsole is stitched by hand to the welt .

Source: Wikipedia

H

Handlasting

The shoe is made by hand in the makers lap or standing at a last jack . The procedure is to place the upper over the edge of the last with the back slightly below the back of the last and pull over the form of the last . Handlasting does not require machinery only handworking tools. 

Source: rushdenheritage.co.uk

heel counter

The heel counter is the piece of leather (belly leather) inserted between the upper and lining of the shoe . The heel counter gives the heel structure and support protecting the foot and shoe from injury . 

Horsefront

Horse front leather is taken from the front of the horse . Horse front is generally a lighter weight leather ,flexible but stong good for mens and womens footwear.

I

Insole

The insole is the piece of leather your footprint contacts inside the shoe . In all our shoes we use a Rendenbach leather insole approximately 2.8 mm thick . This leather insole absorbs all moisture,is flexible and moulds to your foot shape.  In most production footwear a type of recycled cardboard is used . 

Instep

  1. The arched middle portion of the human foot in front of the ankle joint; especially: its upper surface.
  2. The part of a shoe or stocking that fits over the instep.
Source: merriam-webster.com

K

Kidskin

Kidskin or kid leather is a type of soft, thin leather that is traditionally made from goatskin - more specifically, the skin of young goats (or 'kids'). it is commonly used in womens footwear because it is light ,stong and soft.

Source: Wikipedia

L

Last

A last is a wooden form that has a shape similar to that of a human foot. It is used by shoemakers in the manufacture and repair of shoes. Lasts typically come in pairs and have been made from various materials, including hardwoods,cast iron, and high-density plastics.

The last dictates the shoe size fractional fit (width/depth)  heel height and toe shape . Different shoe styles require different types of lasts. For example a shoe last is different to a sandal last and boot last . 

Source: Wikipedia

M

Mule

Mule, a French word, is a style of shoe that is backless and often closed-toed. Mules can be any heel height - from flat to high. The style is predominantly (but not exclusively) worn by women. The term derives from the Ancient Roman mulleus calceus a red or purple shoe worn by the three highest magistrates, although there is little indication of any structural resemblance.

O

Oak bark tanned

Oak bark tanning is a traditional method of tanning for soles, insoles and stiffeners . 

P

Pullover

A pullover is prototype sample for checking pattern and fit of the upper of the shoe .

Source: firstpullover.com

R

Rendenbach

Rendenbach soles use the traditional method of oak bark ground tanning. A robust and extremely flexible, waterproof and breathable sole.

S

Slingbacks

A slingback is a type of woman's footwear characterized by a strap that crosses behind the heel or ankle. A slingback strap is distinguishable from an ankle-strap in that the latter is a strap that completely encircles the ankle.

Slingbacks can be considered a type of sandal and come in a wide variety of styles from casual to dressy, with heel height ranging from none to high, heel types ranging from as thin as a stiletto to as thick as wedges and they may be either closed or open-toe.

Source: Wikipedia

T

Toe Puff

The toe puff is a piece of leather inserted between the the lining and upper on the toecap of the shoe. The toe puffs function is to protect your toes and create a cavity within the shoe for your toes for movement. 

V

Vachetta Leather

This type of leather is a vegetable tanned yearling hide stained to whatever colour is desired . This effect is a beautiful development that makes vachetta leather such a unique and desirable material.

Source: http://www.2knowandvote.com/

Vamp

The vamp is the front part of the shoe,  It refers to any piece of leather forward of the laceline  on the shoe . 

Source: Wikipidea

Vegetable tanning

Among the various tanning methods vegetable tanning is the most traditional, the most recognisable, the only one able to give leather its unique characteristics. It combines comfort ,appearance, fashion and tradition, uniqueness and versatility of the product.

The vegetable tanning process is based on the use of tannin, the active ingredient responsible for the transformation of the animal hide into a compact and resistant material durable through the years. This natural substance can be found in many different trees and vegetables, in variable concentration according to the different species. These natural tannin extracts make the vegetable-tanned leather unique and easily distinguishable.

Vegetable-tanned leather absorbs the traces of our life, it matures without ruining.  The natural ageing does not compromise its resistance. It reveals the signs of time and use as the most personal expression of naturalness and truth. The colours of tannins give the leather an unmistakable warm and brilliant shade that becomes more intense with the passing of time and the daily use.

Choosing a product made of  Vegetable-Tanned Leather means choosing a one-of-a-kind object that reflects the owner’s lifestyle.

No leather looks like any other, its peculiar characteristics offer a wide range of possible interpretations in shape and design. Vegetable tanning is a tanning process taking inspiration from nature and – in full harmony – to nature going back.

Vegetable-tanned leather does not contain any toxic substance harmful to man and is highly tolerable for those who suffer from metal related allergies.

Vegetable-tanned leather production cycle is strictly monitored to ensure a low impact on the environment:

No animal is killed for its skin. On the contrary, the raw hides used by our tanneries are the discarded by-products of the food industry producing meat for human consumption.
Being tanned with natural tannins, a vegetable-tanned leather object can be easily disposed of at the end of its life, thanks to its chemical-biological characteristics.
Our tanneries have made huge investments in depuration systems and waste recycling that make them work in full respect of man and the environment.
Many of the substances used during the tanning process are recovered, recycled and reused in different fields. Hair removed from raw hides is transformed into agricultural fertilizer; sludge produced by the depuration plants is reused in the construction field to make bricks.
Vegetable-tanned leather, recognizable from its trademark, does not contain any toxic substance such as azo-dyes, nickel, PCP or chrome VI

W

Welt Stitch

The Welt Stitch pattern is essentially a horizontal rib. The alternating rows of knit and purls create a welted effect that gives a lot of depth and texture.

Source: http://newstitchaday.com/