How Rachel Simpson shoes are made- the shoe becomes 3D
Posted on October 06 2021
Now that we've selected the materials, cut out the pieces, stitched the uppers and carefully trimmed (some of) the lining, it's time for the shoe to become 3D and begin to resemble something a little more recognisable!
The process of moulding the upper into an actual shoe is called 'lasting', as it is done with the aid of lasts, which are effectively shoe moulds. The secret of a great shoe is a really great last, and we develop many of our own so we can guarantee an amazing fit and a gorgeous shape for all our shoes. It takes a lot of lasts to make a collection, as every heel height and toe shape requires a unique last and every last has to be made in each individual size. We offer all Rachel Simpson shoes is sizes 35 (UK 2) to 43 (UK 9), and the factory then need multiple lasts of every size for production. So can you can imagine- that's a lot of lasts!
An insole is attached to the bottom of the last before the upper is loosely attached over the top. First the backpart of the shoe has to be formed by a special heat process (if it wasn't the back of your shoe would collapse, and that's not very supportive now is it!*). A glue infused piece of material called a 'heel stiffener' is inserted between the upper and the lining of the back part of the shoe. This is then put onto a hot mould to melt the glue, before being pressed into shape. Once done, the shoe is moved onto a cold press to set the shape of the back part. It's a fascinating process.
* Note- if the shoe has a closed toe we also insert a 'toe puff' when the front part is lasted. This is similar to a heel stiffener, and is there to maintain the toe shape and stop the front of your shoe from collapsing.
The shoe then moves along the production line for the front part of the shoe to be lasted. This is done with a combination of hand and machine lasting, which all depends on the style of the shoe- more delicate, strappy styles have to be totally hand lasted, whereas some can be machine lasted and finished off by hand. Both are incredibly skilled processes- hand lasting in particular is a real art.
Once the front and back parts of the shoe are lasted we're ready to attach the sole and heel, which we'll cover in the next part of this series. Click here to catch up on any you may have missed.