Air Force One with components labeled
Screenshot / The Shoe Surgeon @ Youtube

How to deconstruct a sneaker

What are the parts of a sneaker? Learn with The Shoe Surgeon how to deconstruct a sneaker and label all the components.

Dominic Ciambrone aka The Shoe Surgeon has teamed up with Farfetch to create a series of tutorials. His team and him will be showing how to deconstruct a sneaker with some techniques he used to become “The Surgeon”. Everything from deconstructing an Air Force One to using materials around your house.

In this tutorial, Neil, the director of schools at the Shoe Surgeon will be teaching the basics of deconstruction. He’ll be doing that on a Nike Air Force One Low as well as going over the anatomy by showing the components.

Let’s get deconstructing

If you want to follow along with Neil at home what you’ll need is:

Materials to deconstruct a sneaker

  • Nike Air Force One Low.
  • Seam ripper exacto, knife or craft knife. You can use this if you don’t have a seam ripper.
  • Scissors
  • Marker. This way you can label your components as you take them apart.
Air Force One Low deconstructed
Nike Air Force One Low components / The Shoe Surgeon @YouTube

First thing we’re gonna do is remove the strobel board so with the seam ripper we are going to open up a couple of stitches placing the seam ripper in between those red pieces of thread. Once we could fit the scissors in, we go ahead and start.

Air Force One Low pattern

Now that we have a stroker board out we’ll begin deconstructing the shoe component by component.

A little tip when you are taking a shoe apart: you’re going to want to start with the components that are at the top so what that means is if you look at this heel collar this has a heel tab under it and it also has the swooshes under it so we need to, in order to get to the swooshes and the heel tab, we’re going to need to remove the heel collar first.

Remove the heel collar first so you will be able to remove the heel tab and the swooshes.

Neil / Director of schools at The Show Surgeon

What we’ll do to start is taking the seam ripper and begin to pick out a couple of stitches from the top. If you are deconstructing a sneaker so that you can make a pattern, you want to try to keep the integrity of the pieces. Don’t stretch them and move them around too much.

If you don’t have a seam ripper at home you can go ahead and use an exacto. The one major difference when you’re using an exacto knife it’s very easy to accidentally cut through the leather and damage it. It really doesn’t make too much of a difference if you’re not planning a pattern the sneaker.

What are the parts of a sneaker?

As we have seen, a sneaker has many parts so let’s review all the internal and external components.

Diagram of the parts of a sneaker
Air Force 1 components / The Shoe Surgeon @ Youtube

External components

Now the shoes been fully deconstructed, We are going to get into the exterior parts of the shoe and we’ll go over them one by one.

  1. Shoe laces.
  2. Tongue.
  3. Toe box or the vamp.
  4. Toe cap also known as the mudguard.
  5. Llateral medial quarters: the lateral quarter is found on the outside of the foot and the medial quarter is found on the inside of the foot.
  6. Outer heel counters and the heel collars sit above the outer heel counter. The collar is often finished on the inside with foam or another soft material to add comfort to the ankle.
  7. Eyelet row.
  8. Heel tap.
  9. Heel collar or mustache.
  10. Sole of the shoe: this component is made up of a soft cushion midsole with a hard rubber outsole that provides traction.

Internal parts

Now we have the internal components of the shoes:

  1. Thin TPU material that provides structure to the front of the shoe.
  2. Interior lining made from a soft mesh material. This component covers the seams on the interior side of the sneaker.
  3. Collar form.
  4. Internal heel counter made from a thermal plastic material that molds to the heel of the shoe to provide protection and support.
  5. Insole made from a soft foam for additional comfort.
  6. Strobel board: a flat piece of fabric closes the shoe upper to prepare the shoe for being sold.

We learned a little bit of the basics of deconstructing a shoe as well as the components of a Nike Air Force One Low. Take that knowledge and get creative.

Content transcribed from the The Shoe Surgeon Youtube video: Shoe Anatomy: Air Force 1 Deconstructed + Pattern

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