Footwear Materials

I would like to get more familiar with shoe construction and different materials that are used within footwear. I thought it would be helpful to get a “library” going where those with more experience can post different types of materials that are used within all parts of a shoe. For example: different foams used for midsoles, arch supports, air bladders, plastics used for “eyelete frames,” tread rubbers, etc. I was thinking it would be even more helpful if we could start to post shoe images with different material callouts.

Thanks in advance!

not one specific post, but lots on my blog with respect to what you are looking for.

really, though, there are so many materials from so many different suppliers that change so frequently, it would be almost impossible to make a fixed resource of them all…

if it helps, in general, footwear materials i believe break into the following categories (please feel free to add if i overlooked something)

upper leathers (ie. suede, full grains, nubucks, etc.)
upper synthetics (ie. PU, PVC)
upper naturals (ie. canvas, cotton, etc.)
upper mesh (ie. nylon, PE, mixes,)
upper plastics (ie. TPR, PVC, TPU, PE, etc.)
midsole foams (ie. PU, EVA)
outsole (ie. rubber, TPR, etc.)
other (ie. metal, carbon fibre, cork, etc.)
foams (ie. PU, PE, elastomerics, etc.)
misc. construction materials (ie. threads, glues, cements, texon boards, chem sheet, non-woven, etc.)

it’s almost a never ending list if you were to be more specific…


Terminology can vary a lot from resource to resource, too, whenever I have a new client I ask to see some existing spec sheets so I can use the terminology that their factory is familiar with.

It’s never ending.

Hey - thanks alot guys! I had a feeling that the list would be never ending. Richard - your quick list is a good start and I will have to spend some time at the: Directive Collective’s site! I have viewed this before and you have a ton of helpful info there. I will use this to post more specific questions in terms of: what is this part of this shoe made of. I’ll start with: The Adidas Megabounce series: What is the lower cushioning system made from?

i would guess it’s made of some soft(er) TPU w/ a rubber sole.