How Are Basketball Shoes Made?

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Making a Last

  • First, the last is made. The last is a plastic or metal form in the shape of the finished shoe. Every size of a particular shoe requires two lasts--one for each foot. A single last can be used as a template for many pairs of shoes.

Cutting Patterns

  • The different pieces of the shoe are cut out or formed. Basketball shoes are made out of many materials, including plastic, rubber, leather and many types of fabric. Plastic and rubber pieces are molded. Hot material is squirted into a mold, where it cools and hardens. Fabric pieces are cut out of big sheets of fabric.

Assembling the Shoe

  • The basketball shoe is assembled as two parts, the upper and the lower. The upper includes the heel, toe and all of the other parts of the shoe that sit above the foot. The lower includes the sole, insole and other bottom pieces of the shoe. Different pieces might be sewn together, punched with holes and riveted together, or glued. Rubber cloths are vulcanized--heated and fused onto nearby pieces.

Lasting and Attaching the Uppers and Lowers

  • The upper part of the basketball shoe is then stretched over the last. This gives it just the right curved shape so it is comfortable and attractive. The upper and lower are then sewn together. Finally, decals, decorations and other accessories are attached to make a finished shoe, ready to be inspected and shipped.

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