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

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How a New Shoe is Made: Shoe Development Process
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How to Make Shoes : The Basics
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