The characteristics, components, advantages and limitations of a wide range of materials used in footwear production: leather, leather substitutes (synthetics or artificial materials), textile, plastic, rubber etc.
properties, advantages and limitations of footwear materials
materials for footwear manufacturing
materials for footwear production
materials’ properties, advantages and limitations in footwear production
footwear production materials
footwear manufacturing materials
materials’ properties, advantages and limitations in footwear manufacturing
Skill reusability level
Relationships with occupations
Footwear materials is an essential knowledge of the following occupations:
Footwear quality manager: Footwear quality managers implement, manage and promote the quality systems in the company, using adequate tools and methodologies based on national, international or company standards. They are in charge of establishing requirements and objectives, as well as preparing documents. They analyse complaints, and promote and coordinate corrective and preventive measures. They promote an effective internal and external communication and ensure the consumer’s demands are met. They are responsible for the definition of instruments which monitor and control of the quality systems, namely internal or external auditing, and they participate in the internal auditing.
Footwear designer: Footwear designers perform fashion trends analysis, forecasting and market research, create footwear concepts and build collection lines by operating mood or concept boards, colour palettes, materials, drawings and sketches etc. They conduct the sampling process, make footwear prototypes and samples for presentations aimed to promoting the footwear concepts and collections. They identify the range of materials and components, define the design specifications by collaborating with the technical team and review the footwear samples, prototypes, and collections.
Bespoke footwear technician: Bespoke footwear technicians perform activities in small production environments (e.g. workshops) where footwear is typically custom-made. They design, prepare, cut and sew, assemble and finish custom made footwear.
Hand lasting operator: Hand lasting operators shape and secure linings and uppers over the last by hand. Hand lasting operators pull the forepart, the waist and the seat of the upper over the last using handtools with the aim of obtaining the final shape of the footwear model. They start by pulling the front part edges of the upper over the last, and pressing the waist and the seat. They then flatten the wiped edges and cut excess box toe and lining, and use stitching or cementing to fix the shape.
Footwear product developer: Footwear product developers provide interface between design and production. They engineer the footwear prototypes previously created by designers. They select, design or re-design lasts and footwear components, make patterns for uppers, linings and bottom components, and produce technical drawings for a various range of tools (e.g. cutting dies, mould, etc.). They also produce and evaluate footwear prototypes, grade and produce sizing samples, perform required tests for samples and confirm the customer’s qualitative and pricing constraints.
Footwear factory warehouse operator: Footwear factory warehouse operators for footwear are in charge of storing the raw and subsidiaries materials, the working devices and the components for footwear production. They ensure that all the components necessary for the production of shoes are ready to use in the production chain by classifying and registering the purchased component, forecasting purchases and distributing them across different departments.
Orthopaedic footwear technician: Orthopaedic footwear technicians design footwear and make patterns, using manufacturing technology. They compensate and accommodate foot and ankle fitting problems, design and manufacture footwear and its orthopaedic components, including orthoses, insoles, soles and others.
Cutting machine operator: Cutting machine operators check leather, textiles, synthetic materials, dyes and footwear. They select areas of materials to be cut in terms of quality and stretch direction, take the decision of where and how to cut and programme and execute specific technology or machine. The equipment used for large surfaces of materials is frequently an automatic knife. Cutting machine operators position and handle leather or other materials. They adjust cutting machines, match footwear components and pieces, and check cut pieces against specifications and quality requirements.
Lasting machine operator: Lasting machine operators pull the forepart, the waist and the seat of the upper over the last using specific machines with the aim of obtaining the final shape of the footwear model. They start by placing the toe in the machine, stretching the edges of the upper over the last, and pressing the seat. They then flatten the wiped edges and cut excess box toe and lining, and use stitching or cementing to fix the shape.
Footwear production machine operator: Footwear production machine operators tend specific machines in the industrial production of footwear. They operate machinery for lasting, cutting, closing, and finishing footwear products. They also perform routine maintenance of the machinery.
Automated cutting machine operator: Automated cutting machine operators send files from the computer to the cutting machine, place the material to be cut, and they digitize and select the fault in the materials surface in order to perform the nesting of the parts, unless the machine makes it automatically. They give the order to the machine to cut, they also collect the cut pieces and does the final quality control analysis against specifications and quality requirements. They also monitor the status of the cutting machine working devices.
Footwear quality controller: Footwear quality controllers perform visual analysis of the aspects of footwear, raw material and components applying criteria previously defined and decide on rejections or acceptances. They analyse collected data, prepare reports and deliver them to quality management. They apply previously defined quality management tools aiming at the better achievement of the objectives stated in the quality policy. They participate in monitoring and control of the quality system and in the implementation of corrective and preventive measures.
Footwear CAD patternmaker: Footwear CAD patternmakers design, adjust and modify patterns for all kinds of footwear using CAD systems. They check laying variants using nesting modules of the CAD system and material consumption. Once the sample model has been approved for production, these professionals make series of patterns (grading) to produce a range of the same footwear model in different sizes.
Sole and heel operator: Sole and heel operators attach soles or heels to the footwear by stitching, cementing or nailing. They may work with several machines, for example for slipping the lasts, or for roughing, dusting or attaching heels. They also operate various machines both for stitched or cemented constructions.
Pre-stitching machine operator: Pre-stitching machine operators handle tools and equipment for splitting, skiving, folding, punching, crimping, placking, and marking the uppers to be stitched and, when needed, apply reinforcement strips in various pieces. They may also glue the pieces together before stitching them. Pre-stitching machine operators perform these tasks according to the instructions of the technical sheet.
Footwear production technician: Footwear production technicians perform a wide range of activities regarding footwear manufacturing. They are involved in all phases of the process including product engineering and different types of construction. They aim at maximising productivity and reducing production costs, assuring the functionality and quality of product and customer satisfaction.
Footwear production manager: Footwear production managers plan, distribute, and coordinate all necessary activities of the different footwear manufacturing phases ensuring the adherence to quality standards and production and productivity pre-defined goals.
Footwear stitching machine operator: Footwear stitching machine operators join the cut pieces of leather and other materials to produce the uppers. They use several tools and a wide range of machines such as flat bed, arm and one or two columns. They select threads and needles for the stitching machines, place pieces in the working area, and operate with the machine guiding parts under the needle. They follow seams, edges, markings or moving edges of parts against the guide. Finally, they cut excess thread or material from shoe parts using scissors or dyes.
Shoe and leather accessories specialised seller: Shoe and leather accessories specialised sellers sell footwear in specialised shops.
Footwear quality technician: Footwear quality technicians manage all the standards and techniques related to processes and products. They perform tasks using quality systems based on national and international standards. They analyse and interpret the results, prepare reports, advise on corrective measures, contribute to the achievement of requirements and objectives for the benefit of continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.
Footwear patternmaker: Footwear patternmakers design and cut patterns for all kinds of footwear using a variety of hand and simple machine tools. They check various nesting variants and perform material consumption estimation. Once the sample model has been approved for production, they produce series of patterns for range of footwear in different sizes.
Footwear assembly supervisor: Footwear assembly supervisors check and coordinate activities of operators in the lasting room. They are in charge of coordinating lasting room activity with the previous and following activities of the production chain. They examine uppers and soles to be lasted and give instructions to produce them. These supervisors are in charge of supplying the lasting room with uppers, lasts, shanks, counters and small handling tools, and they are also in charge of the quality control of the lasting.
Footwear production supervisor: Footwear production supervisors monitor and coordinate day-to-day production activities of a footwear manufacturing plant. They oversee quality control to ensure that the end product is in alignment with production specifications, and manage the footwear staff. The work also involves negotiations with suppliers as well as taking care of the production plan and production costs.
Footwear hand sewer: Footwear hand sewers join the cut pieces of leather and other materials using simple tools, such as needles, pliers and scissors to produce the uppers. Also, they perform hand stitches for decorative purposes or for assembling the uppers to soles in case of complete footwear.
Footwear finishing and packing operator: Footwear finishing and packing operators apply several techniques for assuring an appropriate final appearance of the packed pairs of footwear that are going to be sold. They perform according to the information received from their supervisor about the shoes that are going to be finished, about the means and materials to be used and the sequence of operations.
Footwear maintenance technician: Footwear maintenance technicians are the professionals who install, program and tune different types of cutting, stitching, assembling and finishing equipment used in footwear production. They perform preventive and corrective maintenance, and verify periodically working conditions and performance. They analyse faults, correct problems, repair and substitute components or pieces, and do routine lubrications, providing information on their use and energetic consumption mainly to the decision makers inside the company.
Footwear quality control laboratory technician: Footwear quality control laboratory technicians perform all laboratory tests of footwear and materials or components according to the national and international standards. They analyse and interpret their results, and prepare the report for the quality manager, advising on rejections or acceptances. They apply previously defined quality management tools aiming for achievement of the objectives stated in the quality policy. They participate in monitoring and control of the quality system, namely internal and external auditing. They collaborate in the preparation of documents related to quality and in the linkage with outsourced laboratories for the tests which cannot be performed inside the company.
Footwear product development manager: Footwear product development managers coordinate the footwear design and the product and collection development process in order to comply with design specifications, deadlines, strategic requirements and policies of the company. They track style development and review design specification in order to meet the design vision, the manufacturing environment, and the company’s financial goals.
Shoemaker: Shoemakers use hand or machine operations for traditional manufacturing of a various range of footwear. They also repair all types of footwear in a repair shop.
Pre-lasting operator: Pre-lasting operators handle tools and equipment for placing stiffeners, moulding toe puff and other actions necessary for lasting the uppers of the footwear over the last. They make preparations for lasting-cemented construction by attaching the insole, inserting the stiffener, back moulding and conditioning the uppers before lasting.
Footwear materials is optional for these occupations. This means knowing this knowledge may be an asset for career advancement if you are in one of these occupations.
Leather goods hand cutting operator: Leather goods hand cutting operators check leather and their materials and cutting dies, select areas to be cut, position pieces on the leather and other materials, match the leather goods components (pieces) and check cut pieces against specifications and quality requirements. All the activities and tasks are performed manually.
Specialised seller: Specialised sellers sell goods in specialised shops.
- Footwear materials – ESCO