‘Clicking’ or cutting is the first stage of making a pair of shoes. A ‘clicker’ cuts the individual parts that when assembled make up the shoe ‘upper’. Cutting can be undertaken by hand using a knife, or with a hydraulic press using steel cutting stencils. The art of clicking is to minimise leather waste and avoiding leather flaws
The next stage occurs in the ‘closing room’ where the cut leather pieces are initially (stitch) marked to show where the pieces join together. A unique product reference is then stamped on the footwear lining and all pieces are ‘skived’ to reduce leather thickness for sewing ease. The upper is now stitched together, eyelets inserted, raw edges strained and excess material trimmed away.
The next stage of production includes ‘lasts’ which are wooden or plastic forms in the finished shoe shape and size. In the 'lasting room', an insole or mid-sole is attached to the bottom of a last, and an upper is pulled over it to form the final shoe shape. The upper is then glued and stapled to the insole, and excess leather trimmed away. The now lasted upper is ready for a welt strip to be chain-stitched to the upper and insole using a 'Goodyear Welting' machine invented by Charles Goodyear in 1872.
For Solovair footwear the first process in the 'levelling' room is to make temporary joins between the sole and the welt using a heated plate. A heat sealing machine is then used to permanently fuse the welt to the sole by quickly and smoothly rotating the footwear along a 700°C heated blade.
Sole and heel edges are trimmed perfectly smooth in the 'finishing' stage using a machine with a blade that revolves at 2,000 cycles per minute. Completed footwear is taken to the last slipping station where the lasts are removed and restored for the next shoe batch production.
In the shoe room the final product is cleaned and polished, inspected for quality and finishing touches like heel socks and swing tags applied. A final quality inspection is then made by our foreman before the shoes are laced, wrapped in tissue paper and placed into a box ready for dispatch.