Your shoes are an important part of what you wear. They not only bring your overall outfit together, but also play an important role in determining the health of your feet.
This is the reason why companies like Nike and Adidas spend millions every year on research about shoes, making them better with every iteration so that your feet will have the most comfortable experience. You can learn more about this by checking out this video on the science in your running shoes.
While the bottom of your shoe is often neglected in this conversation, it is one of the most important parts of the shoe. We’ll discuss this point further in the upcoming sections.
What Is the Bottom of a Shoe Called?
When you think about your shoes, you probably don’t put any thought into the bottom part of it. You buy shoes based on how they look, and only the upper of the shoe is the visible part.
Even while you talk about the shoe, you talk about it in terms like “my leather shoes” or “my green shoes.” The bottom of the shoe gets left out in this conversation.
However, when you’re using your shoes, walking and running while wearing them, or even simply standing while wearing them, the bottom of the shoe is what makes you feel comfortable.
This part of your shoe is called the sole, and a lot of research goes into perfecting it and making it a good experience for you.
What Are the Parts of a Sole?
It can be easy to get confused and assume that the sole is just made out of one layer. However, in recent years, every sole has been constructed of a number of different layers.
The sole is one of the two major parts of the shoe, the other being the upper. The upper and the sole make up the entirety of the shoe.
While the upper itself has different types of materials and layers depending on the style of shoe you’re wearing, the sole is usually made out of 3 or 4 distinct layers:
The insole of the shoe, as the name suggests, sits inside the shoe. This is the part of the shoe that your feet rest on. The part of the shoe you can see from above when you are not wearing it is the insole of the shoe.
This is not a strict layer in many shoes. For example, footwear such as dress shoes do not have a midsole, while it is present in almost every sneaker and sports shoe. This is the layer of the shoe between the bottom of the shoe and the insole. It helps offer extra suspension and impact absorption for athletic activities.
This is the part of the sole that you can see if you turn your shoe upside down. The visible part of the shoe on the bottom is called the outsole, and it is designed to offer traction, resistance to water, and durability to the shoe.
Like the midsole, this item is not present in every type of shoe. It is a single piece or a strip of material, like metal or wood, that is placed near the midfoot of the shoe between the insole and the outsole. When you’re wearing your pair of shoes, the shank can provide rigidity to the arch of the shoe.
Materials Used to Make the Bottom of a Shoe
There are a large number of materials in today’s footwear industry that are used for making shoe soles. There is no such thing as the perfect shoe, but the sheer variety in the number of types of shoes means that every sole is different.
For example, you have your casual shoes, your trail shoes, your stability shoes, your penny loafers, your high-heeled shoes, your basketball shoes, and the ones you wear with your suit. Different types of footwear need different materials.
The following are some of the most common materials used in the bottom of shoes:
While this material first began being used in the making of soles as early as the 15th century, wood continues to be used today. Lighter wood is preferred in the making of soles to reduce the total weight of the shoe.
Solid rubber soles are some of the most common soles you can see today, regardless of the style of footwear. This is because rubber is durable, waterproof, and provides proper traction to the bottom of the shoe.
While real leather is more popular and is among the variety of materials used in making the uppers of shoes, it is also used in making soles. Leather is a sturdy material and is one of the non-synthetic materials that are used in today’s industry for the construction of shoes and soles.
While this is not a very common material to be used in shoes anymore, cork was a very popular material that was used in shoes for decades, especially in the 14th century. This is because cork is not a rigid material. This means that the human foot is more comfortable walking on it, rather than on a sturdy layer of material.
The design of shoes and soles has been constantly changing since humans started using separate pieces of materials to put on their feet to protect them. Decorative patterns and extra layers for fashion are all well and good, but the main purpose of shoes is their utility and how they affect the health of your feet.
In this article, we discussed questions like what is the bottom of a shoe called, what it is made of, and the different shoe components present in it. If you’re interested in similar topics about shoes, please feel free to check out our other articles, as well!