What is a Shoe Last?
There is an old saying in shoemaking that the last comes first. Shoes lasts are a fundamental element and the starting point in shoemaking and molding. The lasts are general representation of our feet that determine the shoe fit, design, shape, and volume. The first shoe lasts were built by the Greeks and Romans back in 400 BCE. Lasts are one of the first tools involved in the shoe-making process that is responsible for giving a refined and fashionable appearance to the final product.
The word ‘last’ originates from the Old English word ‘laest’ which means ‘footprint’ in simpler terms.
Lasts are traditionally carved out of wood but are now also available in a range of materials like molded plastic, cast aluminum, and 3D printed plastic.
A Shoe Last is Different from the Human Foot
The structure of a shoe last is a rough replica of a human foot but it is not an exact duplicate. Many factors are taken into account when the last is created. For example, size, sole shape, width, and current fashion trends. Wassookeag Moccasins has mens moccasins and women moccasins that are constructed with customs shoe lasts.
Importance of Shoe Lasts
Custom-made shoes are built according to the individual foot dimensions. Most manufacturers create their own signature shoe lasts to produce ready-to-wear collections, as does Wassookeag Moccasins. Additionally important is that we make our moccasins by hand and follow the legacy of having them Made in Maine.
How is a Shoe Last Used?
When the shoe pattern is created it is designed on the shoe last. Lasts have played an integral role in giving the proper shape and fit for shoes.
It is used in all the phases, from basic planning to designing of shoemaking, and sets the size, silhouette, and outline of a product. The Wassookeag Moccasins have their signature shape thanks to their own shoe lasts. Some stages where a shoe last plays a role include-
- Footwear designing on the shoe last
- Pattern making on the shoe last
- Uppers on the shoe last
- Shoe sole and leather heels on the shoe last
Types of Shoe Lasts used for Wassookeag Moccasins
Shoe lasts come in different sizes, shapes, and materials. The choice of shoe last depends upon the type and style desired in the end product. Each last is designed to fit a particular heel height, toe shape, and type of footwear.
In the hand-sewn collection, the upper is constructed by fitting a single strip of leather around the underside of the last and then stitched onto the plug by hand. The leather is stitched using needles and waxed thread. This type of handmade moccasins construction creates comfortable and flexible shoes. Hand-sewn construction allows the shoes to be re-crafted and extends their product life.
Wassookeag Moccasins Lasts and Shoes
Each shoe of Wassookeag Moccasins is meticulously hand-cut from hides of full-grain leather, hand-lasted on their signature shoe last, and painstakingly hand sewn one at a time. The moccasins are custom made on order in the small Wassookeag Moccasins workshop located in Central Maine. Rather than relying on mass production and machine stitching, the leather moccasins are constructed completely by hand. The skill of the craftsman can be seen in every stitch of the leather shoes.