As there are many ways to Rome, there are many ways to make shoes.

We have listed the most common constructions for you. Sometimes different countries have slightly different terminology for the same constructions. If you would like to share the terms that you use, leave us a comment below this article. We would love to hear the words you use!

AGO Cemented

This is probably the most commonly used method. It is one of the fastest and cheapest ways. Although, when done properly shoes can still be of very high quality.  This all depends on the workmanship and attention to detail of the worker, and of course materials that are used.
Short description of the method
The toepart is lasted (usually by machine) and glued on to the insole. The rest of the upper is lasted by hand and fixed with tacks. The space between the lasted edges is filled with special filler (cellulose wit
h cork or other filling substance to fill the cavity). The whole bottom is roughed to make it level and so the glue sticks. The outsole is cemented.  If a heel is used it’s attached with pins.


Probably the most widely known shoes that are made vulcanised are ‘All Stars’. It’s a method mainly used for sportive and casual footwear, but also for the original wellington boots and canvas shoes. It is a distinctive method because of the rubber ‘foxing’ (strip) that surrounds the shoe. On high quantities this is a very productive process as many shoes can ‘bake’ at the same time in the vulcanising chamber.
Short description of the method
The upper is lasted over an aluminum last. Depending on the upper construction a filler or board / rubber layer is used. The foxing is attached to the upper and sole with glue. The shoe is vulcanised in a vulcanising cha
mber (Autoclave). The vulcanising process can take an hour or more depending on the materials that are used on the shoe.

Moulded / Direct injection

Crocs, Jellies, PVC wellington (rain) boots are all examples of fully moulded footwear. Referring to the earlier mentioned footwear the whole shoe is made by injection of material around a mould. It is also possible to only inject the soles directly onto an upper with the same principle for example to make safety boots or motorcycle boots.
Short description of the method
The last with the upper is placed in a direct injection moulding machine and the bottom part of the shoe is injected at once. This is fairly quick and therefore cheap but it also doesn’t leave you with many options for the outsole as it is just one material. Tooling costs are high as you need moulds per size so this method is especially interesting in high quantities or by using existing tooling materials.

Stitch down / San Crispino / Veldtschoen

You can recognise this method from the stitching that goes through the upper on top of the outsole. This method is used on the original desert boots and in the past it was used a lot for children shoes because the shoes are very flexible (after use). You see this method come and go as fashion demands but it’s a very sophisticated and traditional way of shoemaking. You can find the method in Asia but it’s not as well-known as in Europe where this method was originated. There are ways to copy the ‘look’ of this method making it AGO cemented, for example by using a welt in the same color of the upper. I prefer the real stitch down though but sometimes it can be a creative solution if you work with a factory that doesn’t have the right machinery and skill to make the stitch down construction.
Short description of the method
The upper is lasted with the lasting edge turned outside over the insole (instead of turned under like with the ‘normal’ lasting method) and is stitched onto the insole or midsole with a vertical lockstitch. The outsole is cemented with glue and if a heel is used this is usually cemented and nailed.

Bonus: When the lasting edge is folded over the insole the construction is called San Crispino. Same look but slightly different finish.

Goodyear welted

A high quality, high priced mens dress shoe is typically made using this construction. Also ladies footwear can be made this way, but the look is very classy and heavy. I believe this is one of the most sophisticated and traditional ways of making shoes, it was originally done by hand. As with the Stitch down method, Goodyear welted is not something every factory masters. With the right machinery, workman, materials and knowledge the shoes created will be of very high standard. Generally footwear made using this method is very strong and comfy but not everybody likes this (bulkier) look and price!
You can recognise the method by the leather welt that surrounds the shoe and the stitch going through the welt and outsole.
Short description of the method
The upper is lasted with tacks, which will be removed later on. The insole that is used has a rib underneath it. The rib is vital as the lasting edge is stitched through the welt onto the insole rib. A shank is added and the cavity is filled and roughed to make even. The outsole and upper are spread with glue and outsole is attached to the welt using a vertical lockstitch. The heel is cemented with adhesive and nailed to the sole.

Blake / Mckay

This method is also commonly used for dress shoes but is less heavy-looking than the goodyear welted method. You can recognise this method from the stitch inside the shoe that follows the whole edge of the shoe. There are several ways to use (or part use) this method and it’s a great way to create a comfy, high quality looking shoe.
Short description of the method
The shoe is lasted onto an insole and secured with glue or tacks. The sole is attached with glue. After this the last is taken out and the insole is stitched onto the lasted upper edges, (midsole) and top of the outsole (a groove is made into the top of the outsole where the stitch goes through).


Tods, Minnetonka.. these are brands that I think of when I think of moccasins. A moccasin is recognised by the ‘moccasin stitch’ but to be a real moccasin it has to be a wrapped around construction where the upper leather goes all the way around like a bag. So if you are wearing a moccasin now, take your foot out and see if the material under your foot is made of the same leather as the rest of the upper?
Short description of the method
The upper material wraps around the bottom of the shoe and the vamp part is stitched onto the apron on the top of the shoe using a moccasin stitch. This creates a ‘bag’. After this the upper is pulled around the last (usually made from aluminum) where it get’s its shape by heat. If an insole is used this will be attached to the last before the upper is pulled around it. The last is taken out to stitch the outsole onto the shoe from the inside. Sometimes outsoles are cemented only (cheaper/faster).

Sewn-in-Sock / Ströbel

This method is mainly used in casual shoes and sport shoes, usually on shoes with a sole with a high edge (box). The construction produces a more flexible shoe (but also less strong). You can recognise this method by removing the footbed and/or insole cover (insock) and you will see the lining is stitched to the insole with overlock stitches (ströbel stitching).
The pattern has to fit perfectly over the last. With ‘normal’ lasting you play (a bit) to get the upper tight on the last but with this method the last is inserted in the sock by force lasting (not machine) and has to fit like a glove.
Short description of the method
The upper is attached to the insole with a locking machine; this creates a ‘sock’. The sock is sometimes warmed on the inside by steaming machines. The last is inserted by force lasting. The shoe is roughed on the area’s where the outsole has to be cemented. This has to be very precise otherwise it’s very easy to get bonding problems. The outsole is cemented with glue and pressed.
Bonus: Californian construction is very similar only an extra piece of material is stitched through the upper and folded over. This extra material is used to cover for example a wedge or a small piece of eva. This method is used for example for wedge sandals.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article and please let us know if you would like us to go into more detail in a future post?

What is your favourite construction and is there anything you would like to add? If you have anything you would like to share, leave a comment below!


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