Shoemaking Artifacts: Lasts

The last is arguably the most important of all shoemaking equipment. A last is a shoemaking tool; it is essentially a form of a foot that gives each pair of shoes it's size, width and shape. Every pair of shoes made in our factory is made "on the last". That means that we utilize a last to shape and mold the uppers as we are crafting the shoes. Modern lasts are made from hard plastic and metal but originally all lasts were carved from solid wood.

shoe lasts on a rack

We have dozens of different shapes and types of lasts in our factory. Many are specific to handsewn shoes while others are meant for dress shoes or boots. The handsewn moccasin construction specific lasts are called "slip lasts" as they have a special hinge built into them that allows them to open in the middle so they can be easily "slipped" in and out of the handsewn uppers.

handsewing lasts

You'll notice that the handsewn lasts also have lots of holes around the toe as the leather gets tacked to the last during the handsewing process. Lasts used for our Blake stitch construction do not have these holes and they have a different hinge. They are also typically taller, with a higher vamp than a handsewn last.

shoe lasts in a bin

Many of our lasts are decades old, they have been used for generations and passed down between family and amongst shoemakers. The handsewn lasts in particular have a very traditional shape and are often used by many different shoemakers in the same area.

handsewn lasts on a rack

Shoemaking lasts are vital assets to any great shoemaker. They give us the creative freedom to work with different shapes and types of construction while also best serving our customer. A wide variety of shapes, sizes, and widths means we can accommodate just about any foot. If you were to visit our factory you'd see literally thousands of lasts stored around the factory on wooden racks and in metal storage bins. We have entire rooms devoted to the storage of our lasts.

green lasts in a metal bin

white lasts on a rack in a shoe factory

handsewn lasts on an orange wooden rack