A glossary of terms used in shoe making and leather trades
the shaping of insoles, heels and soles. The ‘bottom’ is the under part of a shoe.
the process of cutting out the parts which make up a shoe upper.
the process of sewing together the parts which make up a shoe upper.
a repairer of shoes.
an older, alternative name for a shoemaker, often implying a more skilled craftsman. High quality Cordwain or Cordovan leather, made from the hide of the mouflon (a hair sheep), and later goat and cattle hides, was made in Cordoba in southern Spain. It was imported in large quantities in the medieval period.
the currier cleans, softens and reduces the thickness of tanned leather using knives and oils. This improves the leather’s appearance and makes it supple.
a dealer in hides and skins, who would prepare the skins ready for tanning.
the processes involved in tidying the finished shoe and making it ready for sale. This involves trimming, scouring, colouring and polishing the shoe uppers and the edges of soles and heels.
the front of the shoe.
a model of the foot which acts as a mould around which the shoe is formed. From an Old English word for footstep.
Lasting (or making)
the process of attaching the uppers to the sole and heel. The leather is stretched over the metal or wood last and sewn.
an overshoe used to protect indoor shoes from muddy ground.
a strip of leather sewn into the seam between the upper and the sole and heel to help make the shoe more waterproof and to add strength to the seam. ‘Rand’ is the Dutch and German word for ‘welt’ and the two terms are sometimes confused.
the process of cutting leather to reduce its thickness.
provides support and shape to the inside of the heel. Made from fabric or fibre board impregnated with waxes or plastics.
boots or shoes where there is no difference between left and right.
a chemical process which converts raw animal hide or skin into leather by impregnating it with tannic acid (usually oak bark), fish oils and animal fats (Chamoising), or alum and salt (tawing).
stiffening for the toe end of a shoe to help protect the wearer’s toes.
a shoe made inside out.
the parts of a boot or shoe which cover the top of the foot.
the front section of a shoe upper.
an Afrikaans name for a shoe where the upper is flanged outward all round the shoe (instead of being ‘lasted in’). A water resistant shoe suitable for golf and country sports.
the narrow part of the sole under the arch of the foot.
a heavy leather strip shown round the margin of the upper, joining it to the insole. The sole is then attached to the welt with a second seam. Welted shoes were introduced in Britain around 1500.