Shoe Component Terminology

In addition to the primary, generally applicable Shoe Parts described in the Shoe page a vast terminology for the indication of numerous shoe components is available. It should be noted numerous overlaps in shoe part-related terminology can be found, meaning that different words are used to describe the same shoe component. Furthermore, it is understandable that the components listed here are not found in all shoes, and are used and combined selectively, to produce a specific kind of shoe each time.

Frequently used shoe component terminology is referenced below:

Counter: The counter of a shoe sits behind the heel of the foot, and is used to stiffen the back part of the shoe, and to give it structure. Counters are found in shoes with a close back, male, female and unisex. Dress shoes that have a closed back almost always include counters, in order to maintain the shoe's shape and give a sleeker, better preserved look to the shoe. Types os shoes that include counters are for example loafers, kilties, moccasins etc.

Eyelet: The eyelet is a smooth circular piece that laces are thread through. Eyelets can be made of metal or plastic, and are used to cover the edges of holes made in shoes, or clothing. An eyelet provides a smooth, rigid surface for the laces to be fed through, and stops the fabric from fraying where the hole was made. Although eyelets usually exist in shoes that have laces, sometimes eyelets can be found in shoes without laces, serving decorative purposes.

Footbed:The footbed is the inside part of the shoe that runs under the bottom of the foot. A footbed is also often referred to as: insole, inner sole, innersole.

Goring: Goring is an elasticized piece of material that is used to join two or more pieces of a shoe upper together. Goring provides a more flexible opening, and sometimes eliminates the need for laces. Shoes that have goring on both sides are said to have "double-goring".

Heel-breast: The heel-breast is the side of the heel that faces towards the front when the shoe is on the foot. Usually, in female high-heeled shoes-especially dress shoes, the heel breast will have a different color than the rest of the heel.

Lining: The lining of a shoe is the material coating the interior of the shoe that directly touches the sides and the top of the foot and/or the back of the heel. Shoe lining is a part of the upper and can be made from various materials. The main aim of shoe lining is to cover the interior seems of the shoe, protecting and finishing the inside of the shoe, but it is also used to enhance features connected to comfort. Linings made from special materials can introduce features such as additional padding for extra protection of the foot, or the ability to absorb and pull away moisture.

Laces: Laces are rope-like features, used for fastening shoes. They can be made from various materials, such as leather, cotton, polyester etc, and can vary in length and thickness.

Buckles: A buckle is a clasp used to fasten shoes. Usually the buckle of a shoe is attached to a strap that aims to hold the shoe in place, but it can also be found serving a solely decorative purpose. Buckles are found in, monk straps, mary janes and other shoes.

Tongue: The term tongue is used to refer to the flap of material situated under the laces, or other fastening systems of a shoe. It is basically an extension of the vamp that aims to prevent the rubbing of the fastening system against the foot during movement. The tongue is lifted while putting the shoe on, and also assists in placing the foot comfortably in the shoe. A variety of shoes include a tongue such as brogues, many athletic shoes, numerous boots etc.

Welt: A strip of material (leather or synthetic) attached to the outsole and upper, found in the fissure between the upper part of the shoe and the sole. In some shoes it can be found attached to the sole, for decorative purposes.

Stitch: The term stitch refers to the visible stitching that may connect different shoe parts and reinforce the shoe. Shoes may also be embellished with stitch, adding decorative details and ornamentation.

Waist: The waist is a curved part of the shoe, included in the bottom part, that aims to support the foot's arch.

Cuff:The cuff can be considered the trimming of the shoe's lining. It is basically a piece of material, such as fabric or leather, running along the edge of the lining.

Heel grip: A heel grip is a part of the shoe's lining that makes putting on the shoe easier. This component can also assist in holding the heel of the foot in place inside the shoe, depending on the type of the shoe.

Quarter: The word quarter is used to describe the specific part of the shoe's upper that covers the sides and the back of the foot. The quarter may be a separate piece that is sewn to the vamp of the shoe, depending on the shoe's style.

Shank: The shank is the part of the shoe that sits under the arch of the foot and runs between the heel and the outsole. The shank helps establish the shoe's structure, while at the same time supporting the foot.

Throat: The opening at the top of the shoe, through which the foot is properly fitted into the shoe is referred to as the shoe's throat. In some cases it also simple called the shoe's opening.

Toe box: The part of a shoe that covers and protect the toes and is found in a variety of shapes and styles. In order to achieve good fit it is important that the toe box is wide enough and long enough to accommodate the toes comfortably.

Top lift: The lowest part of a shoe's heel, that comes in direct contact with the ground is referred to as top lift. In certain cases, such as high-heeled shoes the top lift can be detached from the rest of the heel, either accidentally of during repair activities. Generally the top lift is an easily replaceable shoe part.