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Footwear Glossary

Footwear glossary

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N


O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #0-9

A B C D E F G H I


J K L M N O P Q R


S T U V W X Y Z #0-9


A

Active Air

A type of midsole found in Clarks shoes, Active Air features hundreds of air pockets in a honeycomb-like design which offer fantastic levels of comfort while sacrificing none of the shock-absorbing properties found in traditional whole-piece midsoles.

Active Air Vent

Found in men’s Clarks shoes, Active Air Vent technology is exactly what the name suggests. Hidden in the heel of all shoes in this range is a tiny-yet-powerful pump that sucks out the warm air from within the shoe and pulls in cool air from the outside, helping to keep the foot dry and the shoe smelling and feeling fresh for considerably longer.

AdiPRENE

An invention of adidas and licensed to Rockport, AdiPRENE is a technology found in insoles and offers added shock-absorption and bounciness.

Aglet

The piece of plastic or metal found at the end of a lace that helps prevent the lace fraying and makes it easier to relace the shoe.

AirWair

Dr Martens’ trademark outsole technology, AirWair was invented by the brand’s creator Dr Klaus Märtens who needed a cushy rubber sole to help a sprained ankle. The use of air pockets in the outsole for added comfort and impact absorption was recognised as one of the design’s key benefits when the shoe was first imported to the UK, and it remains an iconic part of the Docs brand to this day. You can read about Dr Martens’ history here.

ANATOMICUSH™

The latest piece of midsole technology from FitFlop. Whereas the MICROWOBBLEBOARD™ and SUPERCOMFF™ boast triple- and dual-density technology, respectively, ANATOMICUSH uses single density, meaning it offers the wearer the same levels of comfort that the brand are famous for while also providing a more slimline silhouette.

Ankle Wrap

Found most often on relatively formal sandals, an ankle wrap is a strap generally attached toward the back which loops round the wearers ankle, helping to secure the foot to the footbed as well as offering some extra aesthetic appeal.

Antiquing

Antiquing refers to a group of processes that result in the creation of such finishes as burnished leather, where a material (often leather) is deliberately worked in order to achieve a vintage, aged look.

Apron toe

See here.

Arch

Similarly to “heel”, the word arch refers to both a part of the shoe and a part of the foot. In human terms, the arch of the foot is the part of the instep between the ball of the foot and the heel. A fairly common foot-based condition is “collapsed arches”, which require a sturdy shoe arch in order to compensate. The arch in a shoe is typically formed by the midsole, and the severity and strength of the arch depends on a variety of factors, including the style. For example, many modern sandals feature an arch in order to better conform to the shape of the foot and offer a better fit.

Atsu

A special insole found in Clarks shoes, the Atsu features strategically placed beads which provide a massaging effect on the foot, keeping them comfortable and promoting blood circulation.


B

Baby Louis heel

More common in modern footwear than the taller Louis heel, as the name suggests the baby Louis is simply a shorter version.

Ballerina

Also known as ballet flats or simply flats, Ballerinas are a very simple style defined by their thin outsole, lack of heel and the frequently ornate detailing on their toe box.

Balmoral

See here.

Beatle boot

Beatle boots are a hybrid style of Chelsea boots with Cuban heels. They are named for the band after Paul McCartney and John Lennon commissioned pairs before the explosion of Beatlemania took the style into mainstream consciousness.

Biker boot

Encompassing a wide remit, biker boots tend to be black leather boots of at least medium (thigh high) length. Their defining feature is the presence of heavy buckles and straps.

Biomimetix™ midsole

Predominantly found in FitFlop’s FF2 collection, the Biomimetix™ midsole is essentially a slimline version of the technology found in FitFlop sandals, the MICROWOBBLEBOARD™ midsole. The Biomimetix™ midsole makes use of vertically segmented, triple-density EVA to offer ergonomic pressure diffusion across the entire foot for incredible comfort.

Blake welting

The most common style of welting on leather or formal shoes, blake welting involves folding the material used on the upper round and sewing it onto the sole on the inside of the shoe. Blake welting is advantageous over goodyear welting in terms of production costs and by offering a slimmer profile shoe. However, shoes that have been blake welted are potentially less waterproof and harder to re-sole.

Boat shoe

An ever-popular style first designed by Sperry, the boat shoe was originally designed to be used on decks, hence their tendency toward waterproof leather uppers and grippy rubber soles. Traditionally realised with a dark blue upper and contrasting white laces and outsole.

Brogue

A general style of formal shoe, the brogue is a male wardrobe staple and has become increasingly popular with women in recent times. A brogue is traditionally defined by its use of multiple pieces of leather in its construction, but suede is now fairly common as well, the term has come to loosely encompass the following sub styles. You can read more about brogues and men’s formal shoes here.

Blucher

A variation on the Derby, bluchers also feature an open laced structure. The major difference between the two styles that on bluchers, the vamp and eye stays are instead constructed with two bits of additional material attached to the upper.

Derby

Derby brogues are defined by their open laced eye stay structure. This occurs when the quarters of the shoe overlap the vamp. Derby brogues are normally considered less formal than Oxfords.

Monk strap

Typically situated between Derbys and Oxfords in terms of formality, monk straps are relatively rare and are defined by having a strap closure rather than laces. Monk straps usually have a single buckle, but it’s possible to get double or even triple Monks.

Oxford

The most formal type of brogue, Oxfords boast a closed lace system created by the vamp overlapping the quarters. This means they tend to have a sleeker, more minimalist silhouette, and thus are favoured in black tie formal situations.

Royal

Typically featuring blucher-style eye stays, royal brogues have a toe cap that extends the entire way around the shoe and meets at the heel.

Broguing

Broguing is unsurprisingly one of the brogue’s defining characteristics, and refers to the decorative perforations made in a shoe’s upper.

Brannock Device®

The Brannock Device® is a 1925 invention by Charles F. Brannock, designed to offer highly accurate foot size information. The Brannock Device® measures the foot’s length, width, and the from the heel to the widest point. Brannock measurements are in the format of a number followed by a letter, with the number denoting the foot’s length, and the letter its width, with E being the standard fit. The calculation used for Brannock’s length measurement is the foot’s length in inches multiplied by three, minus either 21 (for women’s sizes) or 22 (for men’s sizes), and takes into account ⅔ inch of wiggle room.

Brothel creeper

Most popular in the 1950s, brothel creepers are characterised by their combining of a suede upper with a thick crepe sole.

Burnished leather

See here.


C

Cementing

Cementing is one of the most common ways in which the upper is attached to the sole. Rather than using the traditional stitching methods, the two parts are connected with industrial strength glue. The advantage is that it reduces the production cost of the shoes, but the downside is cemented shoes rarely boast the same durability as those which have been welted.

Chelsea boot

An iconic style which has enjoyed various waves of popularity since the 1960s. Completely gender neutral, Chelsea boots tend to feature a slight heel, a upper and an elasticated gusset in lieu of any sort of laces or buckles to get them on and off. Chelsea boots without the gusset and with a strap are known as jodhpur boots.

Chelsea welly

A hybrid style that combines the Chelsea boot with the traditional sealed rubber exterior of the wellington boot. You can read more on this style here.

Chisel toe

See here.

Chukka boot

A distinctive and easily recognisable style, chukka boots are ankle-high and tend to be worn by men. They usually feature a Derby-style open laced structure, a small number of eyelets, and are often made from brown leather.

Clog

The style that gave us our name! Clogs are traditional footwear most commonly associated with Sweden and the Netherlands, and are best known for their wooden construction.

Closed lace

A type of lacing structure, closed laces are created when the vamp overlaps the quarters creating a narrow and restricted set of eyelets. Closed lacing is the defining feature of Oxford shoes.

Cuban heel

Widely popularised by the Beatles (who had the heels added to Chelsea boots to create the style known as Beatle boots), a Cuban heel is a relatively short (usually around two inch) thick heel typically found on men’s footwear.

Crepe sole

Crepe is a rudimentary style of rubber which tends to be less hard-wearing than traditional rubber or rubber-PU composites. It is most commonly found on shoes designed for dry conditions, such as desert boots and brothel creepers. It is identifiable by its “crinkly” appearance.

Commando sole

Used exclusively in reference to men’s formal shoes, commando soles are made from rubber and feature a lug pattern for extra grip. They are afforded the name as formal shoes traditionally featured leather soles which tend to perform less well in poor weather and need changing more frequently.

Continental heel

A very common heel style in modern women's footwear, the continental heel is characterised by its flat front and base and slightly contoured back.

Cork

A traditional material used in the creation of footbeds and outsoles, cork has in some cases been replaced by EVA or PU composites, but is still used, particularly on high end sandals such as Birkenstocks. It is buoyant and can be made wet without any significant long term damage, as well as offering some shock absorption.

Cowboy boots

Popularised as much by their use in big screen Westerns as they were by those that actually wore them, cowboy boots remain popular today, particularly in the US. They're characterised by their leather upper (which often feature ornate decorative patterns), tall shaft and Cuban heel.

Cupsole

A type of rubber outsole, cupsoles are comprised one one single piece of molded rubber, unlike traditional rubber soles which feature several pieces glued or cemented together. Because of this, they tend to be tougher to break in and slightly chunkier but offer greater durability and protection for the foot.


D

Dainite sole

Found on a range of shoes, but particularly men's formal shoes, Dainite soles are smooth rubber soles that feature small circular dimples rather than a lug pattern. Dainite soles are intended to replicate the look of leather soles while adding durability and suitability in wet weather.

Derby

See here.

Desert boot

Technically a sub-style of the chukka boot, desert boots have gained such a following since their introduction by Clarks that they’ve essentially become a style in their own right. The chief difference between desert and chukka boots is that the upper of the former is made from suede, while the outsole is crepe rather than leather. As the name suggests, these boots were created for desert-based infantrymen in the Second World War, who needed a shoe that was both lightweight and grippy. You can read about the history of the style here.

Duck boot

Also known as waders, duck boots take their name from the duck hunters who they were originally adapted for. They are known for their striking appearance as well as their practicality; the lower portion of the upper is made from vulcanised rubber, while the upper part is made with leather, to offer both comfort and complete water tightness when walking in shallow waters.

Driving shoe

Most commonly a suede moccasin design, driving shoes are characterised by their comfort and the presence of small rubber spots or pads on the sole, to provide traction and comfort.

DryFast - DrySoft™

The special leather used on Dubarry’s range of high quality boots, DryFast-DrySoft™ does what it says on the tin. In the knowledge that their boots frequently get wet through everyday use in the countryside, Dubarry have created a leather which dries quickly and retains its natural softness and luster for longer than regular leather.


E

Elastane

Also known as Lycra and Spandex, elastane is a man-made composite of polyester and polyurethane that is known for its incredible elasticity. While it is rare to find a shoe that features wholesale elastane (it is occasionally used in flexible openings and sports trainers), it is frequently combined with other materials - such as wool - in luxury socks to offer the wearer some added elasticity.

Espadrille

Also known as an alpargata, the espadrille originates in the mountainous Pyrenees region between Spain and France. The shoes became popular thanks to their lightweight, breathable construction, with a canvas upper and a jute rope sole.

EVA

A commonly used acronym for ethylene-vinyl acetate. EVA is a compound material which combines durability with flexibility and the ability to easily absorb impacts, making it perfect for the soles of shoes and, in particular, sandals. When a outsole is softer than rubber and “foamy”, there’s a good chance that it’s made using EVA.

Extralight

An outsole compound that is up to three times later than comparable constructions, Extralight is found on certain styles of men’s shoes by Clarks. The reduced weight it offers the wearer has a huge bearing on the comfort of the shoes.

Eye stay

The two pieces of material on which the eyelets sit. On Oxfords, the eye stays are made from the vamp as part of a closed lace design; on Derbys, they are made from the quarters, forming an open lace design.

Eyelet

Part of any shoe that features laces, the eyelet is the part of the upper through which the laces are threaded to form the closing mechanism. They are often reinforced with metal or plastic in order to avoid fraying or tearing, but some eyelets - known as blind eylets - aim to be as discrete as possible, and thus don't feature the reinforcing material.


F

Fisherman sandal

A type of sandal characterised by its ribbed strap structure designed to keep the shoe secured to the wearer's foot in wet, slippery conditions.

Feather

Where the outsole connects to the upper.

Flat

Another word for ballerina or ballet flat, the flat is a simple women’s shoe which combines a narrow outsole with virtually no heel and a simple upper, which is sometimes livened up with detailing on the toe box.

Flatform

A flatform shoe features a platform sole, rather than just a heel, creating a level platform on which the wearer walks.

FlexLight

The name used for any men’s and kids’ Clarks shoes that weigh in at under 400 grams, FlexLight shoes are known for their incredibly flexible soles and their footbed, which stays fresh thanks to a built in biocide that kills germs and helps to prevent odour.

Flip-flop

Probably the best-loved sandal style in the world, the flip-flop combines a foam or rubber footbed with a thong strap that usually begins with a toe post by the big toe and stretches either side of the foot.

Footbed

See here.

Fringe

Most often found on loafers and moccasins (particularly those made from suede), fringes are decorative features found on the upper.

Full-grain leather

See here.


G

GOga Mat®

GOga Mat® technology is used on the insoles of certain styles of Skechers, offering comfort and shock absorption.

GOimpulse pillar sensors

Used on the outsole of Skechers’ trainers and bearing a slight resemblance to Dainite soles, the GOimpulse pillars are designed to offer the wearer vital sensory feedback as they run in order to achieve the optimum running style.

Goodyear welting

The goodyear welt construction method is a machine based process named after Charles Goodyear Jr., the inventor of the process, typically found on formal dress shoes. The welt (a strip of leather or rubber that runs along the outsole) is sewn to the upper and is then cemented to the welt. Because of the complicated, multi-part design, the shoe can be re-soled many times extending their life exponentially. The increased difficulty of producing goodyear welted shoes does mean they often cost more than regularly welted or cemented equivalents.

GORE-TEX

GORE-TEX is a marvel of modern textile innovation. It is a waterproof fabric that still has the properties of a breathable membrane. Therefore it has the ability to repel liquid water, while allowing water vapor to pass through, making it a lightweight, waterproof fabric suitable for all-weather use. It was actually invented by a Mr W.L. Gore in 1969. It is a registered trademark and if you see the familiar GORE-TEX symbol appear on your product you know it's ready to see you through some of toughest conditions the weather can throw at you.

Green Rubber™

Used in the soles of certain styles in the Timberland Earthkeeper range, Green Rubber™ is an environmentally friendly rubber compound material created with recycled scrap rubber. Green Rubber™ soles boast all of the rugged durability typically associated with Timberland’s wares, but thanks to being made with 42% recycled material, they are much kinder to the planet.


H

Heel

The area of the shoe that sits directly under the heel of the foot as part of the sole. It is frequently slightly raised to aid the natural walking motion. "Heel" can also be used to refer to the back of a shoe.

Heel break

Most commonly listed as a feature of hiking boots, a heel break is where a sole has a distinct area formed under the heel to offer added traction on slippery surface. Sometimes features a different lug pattern to the rest of the sole.

Heel counter

Most commonly found on trainers, the heel counter is a piece of plastic which sits at the back of the rim to offer the wearer additional support. Heel counters range in how flexible they are; stiffer ones are better for wearers who need support, while more pliable ones are ideal for those who like to have a full range of movement.

Heel tab

A common feature of certain styles such as Chelsea boots as well as particularly brands, most notably Dr Martens, heel tabs are designed to help get boots on and off by offering an extra area on which to gain purchase.

High heel

A classic style also sometimes referred to simply as “heel”, high heels are characterised by - you guessed it - the height of their heel.

High top

High top refers to a shoe without a heel (usually trainers or other casual shoes) which has an upper that extends to reach the ankle.

Hiking boot

Also known as walking boots or hikers, hiking boots are known for their sturdy construction, deep lug patterns and use of hard-wearing materials. You can learn more about hiking boots by clicking here.

Huarache

A type of sandal, huaraches are similar to fisherman sandals in that they generally feature an elaborate strap ribbing system in order to keep the foot secured. They typically have a buckled strap which loops over the foot and ends somewhere toward the heel of the shoe. Huaraches are favoured over regular sandals as they are often sturdier and more protective, while still being breathable.


I

Injection molding

Pioneered by Timberland in the 1960s and now an industry standard, injection molding - the process of creating shoes using high powered molds - enabled the company to produce one of the first guaranteed waterproof boot, due to the perfection of the seals created by the technique. It also helped to ensure durability and extremely consistent production standards, which remain cornerstones of the company’s success.

Inseam

One of the most critical parts of any shoe, the inseam is used to connect the upper and the welt together with the insole in shoes that feature a Goodyear welt, blake construction or Z-Stitch.

Insole

Also known as the footbed, the insole is the part of the shoe on which the foot rests. Insoles are sometimes orthopaedically contoured to provide added support for the wearer.


J

Jelly shoe

Popular for children's shoes but becoming more widely used in adult styles as well, jelly shoes or sandals are constructed from a flexible, waterproof rubber that is also see-through and usually found in bright, fluorescent colours, hence the name.

Jodphur boot

A variation on the Chelsea boot, jodhpur boots feature a buckled strap rather than the elasticated gusset.

Jute rope

A common feature of traditional espadrilles, jute rope is a hardwearing twine which was typically wound around a last and then used for the outsole. It can still be found on espadrilles from certain brands such as TOMS, and is occasionally used on boat shoes due to the nautical sensibilities that the two styles share.


K

Kitten

A low heel found on many women's styles, such as Mary Janes.


L

Lace

Laces are used on shoes and boots as a closing mechanism. They're typically made from cotton, and sometimes feature a blend of cotton and synthetic fibers, which offer more durability. Laces tend to feature aglets on their ends to stop them from fraying.

Last

Last refers both to a shoe’s general shape and silhouette, and an anatomical model around which shoes are made in order to ensure that they adhere to the contours of the foot.

Leather

An animal hide which has been treated and dried to form a durable material. Most commonly cow hide, leather is perhaps the most commonly used material in the construction of shoes, and is standard across men’s and women’s shoes. Different production processes result in different grains and styles of leather, which are explained below.

Burnished

Offering a deliberately worn look, burnished leather has been buffed in order to replicate the aging process. Due to this process, the leather tends to be smoothed, and sometimes offers slightly varying shades, as is common in aged leather.

Full-grain

Full-grain leather is largely untreated and still displays any imperfections present on the hide, which means it tends to be the highest quality leather available.

Nubuck leather

A defining feature of famous work boots from the likes of Timberland and Caterpillar, nubuck leather is been sanded down to offer a short nap finish and is both extremely tough and very smooth. Nubuck is created through a similar production method to suede, although performed on the exterior of the hide, not the inside.

Patent leather

Patent leather is produced with an extremely glossy finish, and is often coated in plastic to both increase the glossiness and imbue the leather with added resistance to water. Typically used in very formal shoes for men, but across a range of shoes for women.

Pebble-grain

Pebble-grain leather features a distinctive “bumpy” pattern, achieved by being pressed. It is generally high quality leather, due to the need for the leather to be largely free of blemishes.

Suede

Suede is created using the inside of the hide, which is sanded down to a short nap. Suede sacrifices some of the ruggedness and waterproofing of normal leather for an extremely soft and luxurious finish.

Top-grain

Top-grain leather has generally been treated to help remove imperfections, and is often encased in a thin layer of plastic for added protection and waterproofing. Possibly the most common type of leather used on formal shoes.

Waxed

Waxed leather has been treated with a wax-based product, and tends to feature a slightly glossier finish than other leathers (although less so than patent leather). Often found on shoes and clothing designed for wet outdoor wear, as it offers an extra layer of water-resistance.

Leather sole

Traditionally used on men’s formal shoes, leather soles are made from particularly hard-wearing leather, although it rarely offers the same durability as modern rubber composite soles. Leather soles also lack grip, making them impractical for outdoor wear.

Loafer

Another type of formal shoe, loafers stand apart from brogues as they don’t feature laces. Instead, they’re designed to be slipped on to the foot. Popular with both men and women, loafers are typically made from leather and sometimes feature tassel detailing.

Longwing brogue

See here.

Louis heel

Also known as a French heel, the Louis heel is rarely seen nowadays and was originally intended to be worn by men. Typically a similar height to a kitten heel, the Louis heel features a distinctive curved shape, somewhat similar to the part of a wine glass where the cup meets the stem.

Lug pattern

The lug pattern is the series of divots cut into a rubber outsole to offer the wearer enhanced grip. The deeper the pattern, the more long- lasting it tends to be.

Lycra

See here.


M

M-Select™

The overarching term used for the various pieces of technology found in Merrell’s brand of trail runners and hiking boots, which are explained individually below:

M-Select™ Move

The midsole in many Merrell shoes, M-Select™ Move incorporates Return Foam™ that both cushions the foot and gives it a firm base from which to push off from and is ergonomically designed to match the natural contours of the foot.

M-Select™ Dry

Merrell’s membrane technology, which both wicks away external moisture and allows moisture from within to escape, ensuring the foot stays dry and the shoes remain fresh.

M-Select™ X Dry

Found on certain Merrell boots and designed for those who expect to be outdoors in wet conditions frequently, M-Select™ X Dry is similar to M-Select™ Dry but with an extra bit of external waterproofing.

M-Select™ Warm

Merrell’s own brand insulation system is specifically catered to the needs of their users. Lightweight and easily compressible while still offering loft, it is the perfect for ensuring that the wearer’s foot remains a comfortable temperature irrespective of the conditions.

M-Select™ Fresh

Working in conjunction with M-Select™ Dry and X Dry, M-Select™ Fresh helps to keep Merrell footwear smelling great and hygienic for longer by lining the insole with microbes that break down bacteria.

M-Select™ Grip

Merrell’s own outsole lug pattern is specifically designed to be able to tackle a range of rugged terrain types, with angled lugs at the center of the sole to ensure purchase no matter what the terrain and consistent flat lugs around the outside to enable easy lateral movement.

M-Select™ Ice Grip

As the name suggests, M-Select™ Ice Grip is used for the lug patterns on the outsoles of Merrell’s range of footwear designed specifically to tackle slippery, icy conditions. The angled inner lugs are made from a tough rubber compound capable of biting into ice in order to generate traction.

Mary Jane

Mary Janes are a simple women’s style. They feature a closed design, meaning most of the foot is covered, and a strap which extends across the instep for added security. Although originally referring only to flat shoes, Mary Jane is now used for heeled designs as well.

MBound™

Particularly found in Merrell’s range of trail runners, MBound™ is a layer of cushioning found in the midsole of the shoe which is designed to offer the wearer instantaneous sensory feedback as they move across terrain, enabling them to improve both their agility and their stability.

Memory foam

A special kind of polyurethane, memory foam is viscoelastic, meaning that when met with body heat, it molds to the shape impressed upon it, and over time it gradually “remembers” the imprint and takes the form permanently, hence the name. Recently, it has become a popular material to use for insoles due to the enhanced fit that it offers, and is often found in Skechers and Butterfly Twist products.

Merino wool

Since back in the Middle Ages, the wool from Merino sheep has been highly valued due to the breed having the finest, softest wool of any sheep in the world. Footwear lined with Merino wool is the height of luxury.

MICROWOBBLEBOARD™ midsole

Found in FitFlop sandals, the MICROWOBBLEBOARD™ midsole is made from triple-density EVA which is designed to help distribute the weight of your body when walking across the whole of your foot rather than focusing it on the ball and the heel, as well as helping to absorb shock.

Midsole

The layer between the insole and sole, the midsole is typically made from a tough but flexible material and aims to absorb impacts as well as helping force the insole into an ergonomic design to adhere to the contours of the foot.

Moccasin

A traditional Native American design, moccasins are most commonly found in brown suede and in more recent times have been produced with rubber sole for added durabilities. They frequently feature prominent stitch or tassel detailing, and have given rise to the moc toe-style toe box, which has a seam running along the top of the toe.

Monk strap

See here.

Mule

A mule is a type of shoe that features a closed toe but open back. In modern footwear it is commonly used for slippers.


N

Nubuck leather

See here.


O

Open lace

An open lace structure is created by the quarters of a shoe overlapping the vamp, creating two rows of eyelets which can be pulled apart. Open laced shoes are classified as Derbys, and are typically considered less formal than Oxfords.

OrthoLite™

Found in Skechers’ Go Walk range, as well as some Lacoste, Clarks and Timberland shoes, Ortholite™ is used in the insole and lining to offer a memory foam-like effect as well as being anti-microbial, keeping the shoes fresher for longer.

Outsole

Along with the midsole and the upper, the outsole is one of the three major parts of a shoe. Also known simply as the sole, it is the part of the shoe which comes into contact with the ground, and therefore must provide grip as well as being durable. Most often made from rubber or a rubber-PU combination.

Oxford

See here.


P

Patent leather

See here.

Pebble-grain leather

See here.

Peekaboo toe

Also known as a peep toe, a peekaboo toe features a slight cut out in the toe box that means one or two toes are visible for a visually striking effect.

Penny loafer

A sub-style of loafers, penny loafers are a classic formal style with a strap that runs across the upper. This strap features a perforation which enables the wearer to store a coin on the shoe. The reason behind this design is a matter of debate, with some claiming the coin was intended for emergency phone calls, and others saying it was simply for luck.

Plain toe brogue

See here.

Platform

Platform can refer to both a type of outsole and a type of heel. In the former case, the entire shoe is elevated, with an added elevation at the heel. In the latter case, the back of the shoe is pushed up by a thick, chunky heel. In both cases, they are differentiated from flatform shoes by the fact that the heel is always raised above the toe.

Plus Technology

A feature of various women’s Clarks shoes, Plus Technology is a biomechanically-engineered system that promotes comfort through the shoe’s midsole. The midsole features a dual density construction, which both cushions the foot and is conducive to the natural motion of walking, meaning the wearer has a sturdy-yet-soft platform on which to step.

Polyamide

Polyamide is the overarching phrase that applies to natural and man-made fabrics that are characterised by their strength and durability, including silk, wool and nylon. Found in a variety of high quality products, particularly items from Barbour.

Pool slides

A quintessential ‘90s style enjoying a resurgence in the 2010s, pool slides - like flip-flops - feature a foam or rubber sole. The foot is secured to the footbed via a thick strap that runs across the instep.

Primaloft®

Typically used in Timberland footwear and accessories, PrimaLoft® is an environmentally-friendly collection of extremely fine fibers that together form insulation that is both fantastically warm and compression resistant.

PU

The commonly used acronym for polyurethane, PU is used in some soles that need to be extremely hard-wearing and durable. PU soles are often combined with rubber in order to still provide the wearer with some added bounce and shock-absorption when walking.

Pump

Also known as a court shoe, “pump” simply means a shoe with a relatively open front and no fastening or laces. They’re differentiated from flats by virtue of their tendency to feature small heels.

Punching

Another word for broguing a shoe (usually a relatively formal leather dress shoe) that features punching has had small sections of the upper literally punched out, either by hand or mechanical press.


Q

Q-Form® Comfort

After finding women were more liable to injury when wearing shoes intended for men, Merrell set about developing a midsole that specifically catered for the contours of a woman’s foot. The end result was the Q-Form® Comfort midsole, found in many of their women’s trail runners and hiking boots.

Quarter brogue

See here.

Quarters

A feature of formal shoes (most often leather), quarters are the two pieces of leather which connect at the heel and extend around toward the toe, where they meet the vamp. The shoe is a Derby if the quarters overlap the vamp and form an open lace structure; if the vamp overlaps the quarters, it creates a closed lace structure and makes the shoe an Oxford.


R

Resalyte™ Midsole

Resalyte™ is a lightweight material using in the midsoles of Skechers shoes (specifically their running trainers) that offers enhanced shock absorption.

Rim

The rim is the part of the shoe or boot through which the foot enters.

Royal brogue

See here.


S

Saddle shoe

Also known as a co-respondent shoe, saddle shoes tend to be brogues that feature two distinct colour tones on the upper. Typically, the middle of the shoe is coloured differently to the heel and toe - this look is said to be similar to that of a saddle on a horse's back, hence the name of the style.

Sandal

An extremely broad term, sandals are characterised by their open design and their use of straps to secure the wearer’s foot to the footbed. Most modern sandals feature a foam or rubber sole for durability and comfort purposes.

Shaft

Technically part of the upper, the shaft is the part of a boot or welly which extends up the leg. Shafts vary greatly in length depending on the style and brand.

Shank

A piece of material located between the insole and outsole designed to give the shoe extra stability and more effectively distribute weight across the shoe.

Semi-brogue

See here.

Skech-Knit

Found in Skecherstrainer range, Skech-Knit is a woven texture mesh which is both lightweight and extremely breathable, making it ideal for footwear used for exercise.

Slingback

A backless shoe (normally a high heel) which features a strap that extends around above the heel to help hold the foot in place.

Slipper

Slippers are light shoes in a variety of different designs that are used exclusively for indoor comfort use.

Smartwool®

Found in Timberland’s range of winter footwear, Smartwool® is a specially adapted type of Merino wool perfect for winter wear. Smartwool® takes the natural thermoregulatory properties of the wool and enhances it, imbuing it with additional moisture wicking abilities to help keep the feet perfectly dry as well as the perfect temperature.

Softwear

Found in women’s Clarks shoes, Softwear is the name for their combined outsole - midsole - insole technology designed to offer incredible comfort to the wearer by focusing on the traditional pressure spots on the foot. Foam, leather and bubble cushion beads are combined to provide soft-yet-sturdy platforms for the ball and heel of the foot.

Spandex

See here.

Stacked heel

Typically distinguished by a number of horizontal lines running across it, a stacked heel is made from multiple layers of material (normally leather) stacked on top of each other.

Steel toe

Typically found on work boots, steel toe caps offer the wearer added protection from potential injury by boasting a layer of material that surrounds the toes. This material is often steel, but the phrase “steel toe boot” has come to be used in reference to footwear with a range of protective materials in the toe, such as plastic composites.

Stiletto

While technically a style of high heel, stilettos have become so popular that they’ve qualified as a style in their own right. Their key feature is their high, extremely thin heel, named for a type of dagger.

Stratafuse™

Many Merrell trail runners and walking boots boast partially mesh uppers in order to help the foot breathe. Stratafuse™ is the name for their patent-pending process of injecting the more rigid foot cage into the mesh, lending it added stability and durability.

Suede

See here.

SUPERCOMFF™ midsole

The SUPERCOMFF™ midsole is used in FitFlop’s FF2 collection, and is similar to the Biomimetix™ midsole, the slimline version of the MICROWOBBLEBOARD™ midsole used in most FitFlops. The major difference between SUPERCOMFF™ and Biomimetix™ is the former utilises double- density EVA, while the latter uses triple-density EVA.


T

Tassel

Usually found on loafers, tassels are small decorative features that serve to make shoes less formal than they would be otherwise.

Termolite®

Boasting hollow-core fibres inspired by the quick-drying, incredibly warm fur of the polar bear, Thermolite® insulation is particularly useful on items which are liable to get wet, such as gloves, and features prominently in Timberland products. The unusual design of the fibers not only promotes thermoregulatory insulation but also means that they dry considerably quicker than natural materials such as cotton, making them ideal for winter wear.

Thinsulate®

Found in the footwear and accessories of several brands, including Timberland, Thinsulate® is a brand of insulation known for its effective and inventive use of space, ensuring the parts of the body that are most prone to losing heat are well insulated, while allocating less insulation to the areas that lose less. Thinsulate® is typically found in the linings of shoes or boots, as well as gloves and hats.

Thong strap

Refers to any type of sandal which has some sort of strap or material which divides the toes in order to secure the sandal to the foot.

Toe caps

Although a range of shoes feature different styles of toe caps, the phrase is most commonly associated with men’s formal shoes, due to the sway they hold over a shoe’s formality. The following toe caps styles are the main ones:

Apron

Similar to a plain toe but with a seam that runs across the top (somewhat similarly to a moc toe). Relatively rare among formal shoes.

Chisel

Named as it resembles the tool, chisel toe shoes are relatively long and then taper into a relatively sharp square finish.

Longwing

Found on men’s formal shoes, the longwing toe cap features “wings” which extend back to the midfoot. Due to the ornate level of detailing that goes along with such a design, longwing brogues tend to be relatively informal.

Plain toe

Considered the most formal style of toe cap due to its complete lack of detailing. Plain toe shoes have no distinctive toe cap area whatsoever.

Quarter brogue

One of the most common toe caps found on men’s shoes. If a shoe is a quarter brogue, it means there is a distinct toe cap - ordinarily marked by a line or some simple broguing - but no detailing on the toe itself.

Semi-brogue

Also known as the medallion toe cap, semi-brogues feature some broguing on the toe. Due to detailing in such a prominent position, semi-brogues tend to be less formal than plain toe or quarter brogue shoes, but more formal than wingtips or longwings.

Wingtip

Considered the most informal style of cap after longwings, wingtips are extremely popular on smart-casual brogues. Wingtips have extensions that run along both sides of the toe, which is where the reference to 'wings' comes from. Viewed from above the style tends to have a noticeable 'W' style.

Toe post

Normally associated with rubber strapped flip flops, the toe post is the part of the strap which lies between the big and second toe and keeps the foot on the right part of the footbed.

Tongue

The piece of material which provides a buffer between the wearer’s foot and the laces, the tongue often sports the shoes branding. On Derby shoes, the tongue is usually an extension of the vamp.

Top-grain leather

See here.

Trail runner

A type of low cut hiking boot, trail runners are ideal for those trekking without a backpack and thus in no need of the added ankle support that comes with boots. For more information on trail runners, you can read our guide.

Trainer

An all-encompassing term for shoes designed with sporting performance in mind. Trainers come in a huge range of materials, cuts and silhouettes.

Treadlite by UGG™

Used in UGG Australia’s footwear, Treadlite by UGG™ is the material used in some of their shoe’s outsoles. Constructed using a new material compound, Treadlite by UGG™ offers wearers a unique combination of an outsole that is both extremely light and flexible yet also durable and grippy.

Twin-face sheepskin

Commonly used in UGG Australia’s range of boots, if a boot or slipper features twin-face sheepskin it means that both the fleece and the skin side have been used. In the case of UGG’s range, the skin side is external, while the wooly fleece is inside, keeping the foot snug.

Twin-Gore

A design feature of particularly men's shoes, Twin-Gore shoes tend to be slip-ons or other laceless designs such as loafers where, instead of a traditional closure, the vamp features a small elasticated gusset on each side of the foot to make them easy to slide on or off.


U

UGGPure™

Found on UGG Australia products, UGGPure™ is the term used for the 100% real wool that the company weave to a backing and then attach to the inside of many of their products, most notably their boots.

Uni-Fly™

Found in Merrell’s range of trail runners and walking boots, Uni-Fly™ is the name of their shock absorption system found in the midsole and outsole of their footwear, helping to promote comfort and greater stability.

Upper

The upper is one of the three main areas of a shoe, in addition to the outsole and the midsole. “Upper” refers to the main visible part of the shoe, and includes the laces and the shaft if on a boot or welly.


V

V-Stride

Used on the outsoles of certain styles of Skechers, V-Stride technology promotes a natural walking motion through an angled outsole.

Vamp

The piece of leather which forms the toe box of the shoe. The vamp stretches around toward the midfoot where it meets the quarters. If it overlaps the quarters, it creates a closed lace structure (typical of Oxfords), while if the vamp is overlapped by the quarters, it creates a Derby-style open lace structure. In the latter case, the vamp tends to become the tongue of the shoe.

Velcro

A staple of children's footwear, Velcro was invented in 1948 by George de Mestral and is used in lieu of traditional laces. Velcro connects corresponding panels, one with minuscule hooks, the other with loops.

Vibram sole

A brand known for their outsoles, Vibram's soles use an exclusive rubber compound for extra grip. They can be found on shoes from hiking brands such as Merrell and work boots from the likes of Red Wing, and often come in the unusual colour choice of white.

Vulcanised rubber

Pioneered by Charles Goodyear (father of Charles Jr., who inventing the goodyear welting technique), vulcanised rubber is rubber which has been cured and combined with various agents in order to make it more durable and pliable. The patent for the invention was taken to France by Hiram Hutchinson and the UK by Henry Lee Norris, who founded Aigle and Hunter, respectively.


W

Wave Walk

A type of outsole produced by Clarks, the Wave Walk features a curved bottom designed to help gently propel the wearer forward as they walk, utilising the natural momentum achieved through walking to help take the strain off the ball of the foot. Wave Walk outsoles are found on both men’s and women’s Clarks shoes.

Wedge

Normally associated with women’s sandals but also used on shoes and boots, a wedge provides a consistent platform for the heel, unlike traditional high heels or stilettos.

Welly

The shortened name for a wellington boot, a welly is a rubber thigh-high boot with the primary purpose of offering the wearer a waterproof seal around their foot in damp weather. Generally created using vulcanised rubber.

Welt

A welt is a strip of material that lies between the upper and the outsole to provide an anchoring point for stitching, and is most often found in shoes that have been manufactured using the goodyear welting method.

Whole cut

While not technically brogues due to their use of one single piece leather for the upper, rather than multiple pieces for the vamp and quarters, bluchers do share many characteristics; they’re traditionally formal, realised in black leather, and worn by men. Whole cut shoes are generally considered to be among the most formal styles of dress shoes available.

Winklepicker

Particularly popular in the 1950s, winklepickers are boots with a long toe which culminates in a sheer point.

Wool

A natural fibre found most commonly on sheep as well as certain other animals. Typically, wool is used to line the inside of shoes due to its softness and its naturally imbued thermoregulatory properties, meaning it keeps the foot at the perfect temperature whether it’s warm or cold outside. Certain types of wool, such as Merino wool, command a higher price due to their higher quality.

Work boot

An overarching term for boots intended to be worn day in, day out in blue collar occupations. These often feature steel toe caps, rugged leather uppers, durable and deep lugged rubber soles, as well as various comfort features like padded ankles due to the long hours the wearer spends in them.

Wingtip brogue

See here.


Z

Z-Stitch

This is a style of stitching that is unique to classic Dr. Martens. The stitch joins the welt, upper and insole of the shoes and is traditionally yellow. If you see a 'Z' follow the style name or code you know it will come the yellow stitching. eg '1460z'. If you don't see a 'Z' then the stitching will usually be hidden and concealed within the welt itself.



3D Performance Unit

Found in certain GEOX styles, the 3D Performance Unit is a type of outsole that utilises a series of distinct lug clusters to offer the wearer fantastic comfort, flexibility, stability and grip.


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