RESOURCES

RESOURCES

RESOURCES

Sneaker Glossary

A beginner’s guide to sneaker terms. These days, a lot of terminologies exist from countless abbreviations, slang, and codes. Learning the ins and outs of sneaker collecting, anatomy, reselling, and the industry can be challenging. This sneaker glossary covers design, anatomy, production, collecting, and business. Here are terms that every sneakerhead must know.

AJAX progress indicator
  • 3M
    A reflective material in which retroreflection occurs when light rays are returned in the direction from which they came — usually catalyzed by a flash of light. Created by the company of the same name, this material is used as a design detail for running performance, lifestyle, and workwear.
  • Back Part Molding Machine
    This machine is used to pre-shape the back heel of the shoe upper over a shaped mold. This machine can be equipped with hot and two cold stations to complete the molding process.
  • Bred
    Any sneaker (although usually in reference to Jordans) that has a black or red colorway. This term originated from Air Jordans and the team colorway of the Chicago Bulls.
  • Colorway
    The combination of colors found on a sneaker which differentiates it from other sneaker models.
  • Cupsole
    Also: Cupsole unit. A shoe outsole type made of one piece of rubber in which the sole unit “cups” the upper.
  • EVA
    “Synthetic rubber” (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) is one of the best shock absorption materials available and it offers both durability at a lightweight. Most sneaker brands use this material, due to shock absorption, light weight of the sole.
  • Eyelets
    Eyelets are the holes that the shoelaces thread through.
  • Eyestay
    The part of the upper used strengthen the lace openings.
  • First Cost
    The direct cost of a shoe in terms of the materials and labor involved in its production.
  • Footwear Distributor and Retailers of America
    (FDRA) A trade organization focused on the footwear industry. It serves the footwear industry supply chain and helps its members by providing resources, training, consulting on footwear design, development, sourcing, compliance, trade and customs, and advocacy. They also provide consumer analysis, sales trend analysis for retailers selling shoes around the world.
  • Footwear Distributor and Retailers of America (FDRA)
    A trade organization focused on the footwear industry. It serves the footwear industry supply chain and helps its members by providing resources, training, consulting on footwear design, development, sourcing, compliance, trade and customs, and advocacy. They also provide consumer analysis, sales trend analysis for retailers selling shoes around the world.
  • Heat Tunnel/Heat Setting Machine
    This machine heats the upper and the outsole once they have been prepared with primer and cement. Once the adhesives have been completely dried in the heating tunnel the two pieces are joined together.
  • Heel Counter
    The part of the upper covering the heel.
  • Last
    A form that has a shape similar to the human foot that is used in the manufacture and repair of shoes. Lasts are made from metal, wood or plastic.
  • Laster
    A person who or a machine that lasts the uppers of the shoes.
  • Lasting Machine
    This machine is used for the lasting operation of the shoe upper seat/heel part. It pulls the heel area of the upper over the last and the insole removing any wrinkles. Modern lasting machines are hydraulic and computerized.
  • Lineapelle
    Textile shows where top producers of leather, textile, synthetics, and other materials show their options.
  • Lining
    The material used inside the shoe.
  • MAGIC
    A trade show or fashion marketplace covering footwear, apparel, accessories, and manufacturing. The shows at MAGIC showcase the height of advanced contemporary luxury brands, and the latest trends in apparel, footwear, accessories, and manufacturing.
  • Maquette
    Also: Wooden model. A small scale model or mock-up of a shoe in 3D.
  • MICAM
    The leading international footwear fair, promoted by Assocalzaturifici Italiani, the Association of Italian Footwear Manufacturers.
  • Milling Machine
    A tool that uses computer numerical control (CNC) to execute pre-programmed sequences of commands to automate cutting or milling.
  • Milling Machine (CNC)
    A tool that uses computer numerical control (CNC) to execute pre-programmed sequences of commands to automate cutting or milling.
  • Molds
    A hollow form or matrix for giving a particular shape to something in a molten or plastic state.
  • Natural Rubber
    The advantages of natural rubber are that it is very soft, offers very good flexibility, and is suitable for all kinds of sports. But it lacks the durability of synthetics.
  • Opening A Mold
    Once a prototype has been made and approved, a metal mold is made or 'opened' for production.
  • Pattern Grading
    Once the sample size or standard pattern has been produced, a set of patterns has to be made. Every pattern in the set must reproduce the features of the standard to fit the last sizes larger and smaller than the standard.
  • Patterns
    A paper model used to cut and sew the materials for a shoe upper. A pattern translates the dimensions and curves of a design and ensures that the upper fits the last it’s meant for.
  • Plug
    A slang name for the guy who has early access to key products, he's the connection for all the new or hard-to find releases.
  • Polyurethane
    One of the most common polymers, Polyurethane or (PU) is used widely in shoes – it’s lightweight, durable, and waterproof.
  • Primary Market
    Consumers buy directly from the sneaker company through retail stores.
  • Pullover
    A prototype sample shoe upper for checking pattern and fit.
  • Quick Strike(QS)
    Refers to a virtually unannounced release that hits stores quickly and in limited quantities. Hyperstrike.
  • Roughing Machine
    The finishing machine is used to rough the bottom of the shoe before the outsole is put on.
  • Sample
    A prototype sneaker created by footwear designers and their team for testing or promotional purposes. These sneakers never make it into mass production.
  • Seat/Heel Lasting Machine
    This machine is used for the lasting operation of the shoe's upper heel part. It pulls the heel area of the upper over the last and the insole removing any wrinkles. Modern lasting machines are hydraulic and computerized.
  • Shank Plate
    The shank is a part of the supportive structure of a shoe between the insole and outsole. It's a very important part in the design of basketball shoes, and it is crucial to the functionality of mountaineering boots.
  • Shell Pattern
    The shoe pattern that fits the surface of the last with no details. Designers draw the shell pattern.
  • Shoe Tariffs
    A tax or duty that must be paid to the US government on imported shoes.
  • "Shrink it and Pink it"
    The strategy of creating campaigns for women by making products smaller and pink because marketing execs thought they would be more appealing to women that way.
  • Size Grading
    Once a shoe sample has been approved, patterns need to be graded across the complete size run of shoes.
  • Skiving Assistant
    A person who assists in skiving leather pieces.
  • Sneaker Anatomy
    The key parts of sneaker anatomy are shown in this image.
  • Stock Replenishment
    Restoration of the amount of sneaker stock available in stores to a former level.
  • Tear Strength
    The force required to tear a sample divided by the sample thickness.
  • Tech Pack
    A set of documents created by a designer that inform the manufacturer of all the necessary components needed to construct a product.
  • Texon board
    A high quality, high performance, insoling material which maintains appearance, does not deteriorate, is dimensionally stable with good flex endurance. It does not shrink or grow due to perspiration, Is scuff resistant and has high stitch / tear strength.
  • Toecap
    The part of the upper covering the toe.
  • Tooling
    The process of automated cutting by a milling machine.
  • Trade Show
    A professional exhibition of goods or services strictly dedicated to buyers, press and fashion industry professionals.
  • Two Ten Footwear Foundation
    Is the national charitable foundation of America's footwear industry. the organization provides financial Assistance, Counseling, Community Resources and Scholarships to those working working or seeking to work in the footwear industry.
  • Uptowns
    Is the slang used for the the Air Force 1 sneaker (also known as "uppies", or "classics"). The term "Uptowns" came from the popularity in uptown NYC hoods like Harlem, where the white-on-white Air Force 1 low will always be a favorite sneaker.
  • Wholesale
    Manufacturers selling sneakers in large quantities to be sold by stores at retail prices.
  • Wooden Model
    A small scale model or mock-up of a shoe in 3D. Sometimes called a Maquette.

RELATED CONTENT

RESOURCES

How To Become A Machine Operator in Footwear

Footwear Machine Operators are front-line experts that operate machines that aid in the sneaker manufacturing process. Mass production of sneakers would not be possible or have an affordable price without their work.
BLOG

Made in America: Sneakers Manufactured Locally

A rundown of athletic sneakers made in the United States

GET MORE FROM YELLOWBRICK

Stay up to date on the latest in design, technology, fashion, sports, and more by signing up for the Yellowbrick mailing list.
×