Strobel and California construction

I was sifting through my pile of eastbay and ccs catalogs and kept noticing the terms “california” or “strobel” construction. I was wondering if anyone could explain what exactly these methods of construction are? I’ve searched the internet, but the wording I’ve found is either unclear or somewhat confusing.

The upper is attached to the insole board (which is textile as opposed to board as in board lasted shoes) with stitches.

Board lasting tends to be used in fashion shoes and in any athletic footwear where stability is more important. If you remove the sock from your sneakers and all you can see is (usually pink) cardboard, then its board lasted.

If you remove the sock of your sneaker and you can see a textile insole board with stitches around the edge then its stroballed - a more flexible construction. Done with a machine like this one.

Much more flexible and light than board lasted shoes. California construction is pretty much the same thing but its often used to describe some casual shoes.

copied and pasted:

CALIFORNIA CONSTRUCTION -This type of comfortable casual shoe with a sporty look & soft cushioning of the feet originates from the United States. A cushion insole respectively an orthopaedic sock makes the walking very soft, which is achieved by this construction with a specific textile midsole. California-Clicking - the parts of the upper leather are punched out or cut by hand. Afterwards the edges of the leather parts are skived i.e. thinned in order to have plane edges between the individual parts ; California-Joining - the upper leather and the textile insole are joined together by a solid seam. The shoe is then given its shape and standing by incorporating various fitting parts as for example the latex orthopaedic sock in the front part and a firm Lefa (leather fibre) to reinforce the heel ; California - The California Platform-Cover - the California platform covers are lasted. That means, they are pulled tightly over the middle sole and fixed at its bottom side. During this process the shoe stays on the so-called last ; California-The Outer Sole - after roughening of the bottom side the outer sole is cemented. Finally, a true foot-fitting sock is inserted consisting of various components such as ball heel, air channels, and heel support.
from here

In casual shoes I sometimes see it called stitchdown.


Thanks for the info! I fully understand strobel construction but I’m still a little confused by the info you gave for california construction.


I’m going to poke my nose in here. California construction is slip lasting, where the upper is sewn to the insole and the last is forced into the shoe. The stitches are never seen in the finished product ((I don’t think). The “California” last has a hinge that allows it to shorten. Do you have Clarks “Manual of Shoemaking”?

Stitchdown is visually very different- the stitches are part of the finished “look”- Elsewhere I did a photo essay a few days ago on this.

There are a few shoemakers in England that I’ve run across on the web, who do stitchdown, but use force-lasting to shape the toes.

I wonder if any shoe is California by default if you force-last? Strobels are force-lasted, yes? In that case they would be the same thing.



Argh- I think I misread your post, sorry. I’ve never seen stitchdown shoes referred to as California lasted. My understanding from reading the Clarks manual (and the quote you pasted) is the concealed platform in California lasted shoes. Are some brands calling stitchdown shoes California lasted because they are force-lasting them, maybe?


i’ve worked with a few factories that make California constructions, but personally never bothered with it, perhaps my explanation will shed a little more light for you.

To understand what makes the California construction different, you first have to understand how shoes are made, watch any shoe making video (I think there was one on this board for Nike soccer shoes earlier this week). You’ll notice there is a point when the upper is being constructed that basically it just looks like deformed bag, this is right before the last goes into the shoe. Typically they’ll put the last in to give the shoe it’s shape, work toe and heel reinforcements and begin working on the finishing of the shoe, skiving, cleaning, cementing etc.

This is where the California construction differs, before the last is inserted, the insole/sockliner is put inside the deformed bag of a shoe and attached (stitched through) to the upper. Usually this is only in the forefoot, as the heel will have a cookie/gel/other insert added to it later. The reason for doing this is that it allows the lasting process to be much truer to the shape of the foot, and it allows the cookies/gel/inserts to target specific areas of the foot. By stitching down the forefoot of the sockliner, you hold the sockliner in place and allow for specific inserts to be added that will create a noticeable effect. It is not a common technique because it costs a little bit more money to make a shoe this way and you’ll almost never recieve any credit for doing it. But, it does make for a much better shoe.

As your book mentioned it is used in some orthopedic shoes, but where I’ve seen it pop up is in skate shoes and sport driven shoes that require the user to take a lot of impact on their feet.

**** It is most certainly not a stitch out and has nothing to do with a stitch out construction. Stitch out constructions are almost always board lasted (not all the time but about 98%) and while they could incorporate a California construction, the board lasting process sort of defeats the purpose. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat. ****

Rock and Roll.


Your reply makes it sound like all shoes are attached to insoles prior to lasting. I hope I’m misreading that? Are you only referring to force-lasted footwear and then California?

I would not consider Stitch-out constructions board lasted. Not trying to be argumentative. Maybe there are too many variables to have consistent language. Historically the definitions are confused too.


No only california constructed shoes attach the insoles prior to lasting.

Please re-read my post. Clearly you skimmed, dont’ skim. It’s bad for you especially if you’re trying to learn something.

I revised my post, but I’m having a hard time visualizing how this works- especially “it allows the lasting process to be much truer to the shape of the foot”- as the last should perform this function.



I said almost all stitch outs are board lasted not all of them. Secondly they most certainly are by definition of the term. When you’re making a stitch out, you’re attaching it to the leather sole unit, which is essentially a board; it may not be a texon or fiberous board, but it is a board nonetheless. You can use different means of construction like how Red Wing makes thier boots, but in essence the stitch out process is like attaching a board to the bottom before attaching the sole unit. It should be noted there are difference between a welt construction and a stitch out construction, but strictly speaking the definition of a stitch out construction requires board lasting, otherwise I’ll give you my best when you try to adhere your sole unit to the upper.



I’m not sure what you do or do not know about shoe making. So I’ll try to explain it like this:

A California constructed upper is made exactly the same way that a strobel upper is made, except for the insertion of the insole. Here’s the difference though: when the upper of the shoe is finished, the sockliner/insole is put inside the upper, this is stitched through in the forefoot to the upper. A regular strobel construction does not include that last step! IN a strobel shoe,the insole goes in at the very end of the assembly line, after the bottoms are put on.

Think of this as looking like your mouth. The upper is your throat and teeth and stuff and your tongue is the sockliner/insole. it is attached to your mouth at the back of your throat. You can lift your tongue up and down side to side, but it is firmly attached at the back.

In the same way, the California is made like that. Now, when you put the last in to form the shoe, you’ve also got sockliner in there, so it takes on a truer shape. Because of this, you can sculpt the bottom of the last to accomodate people with higher or lower arches, you can make adjustments that are not possible for traditional strobel or board lasted constructions.

Since we all know that assembly is less than perfect all the time, what you’ll do here is eleminate the margin of error when the upper is cemented to the bottom by forming the entire last shape upper and insole in one shot. Instead of relying on the assembly/moldshop to get the insole/sockliner/footbed contours correct.

I should point out here, this is in no way a molding process I would consider it part of a forming/shaping process, but it does get the shape much closer to the actual last shape. To be honest, I guess I am assuming you know a decent amount about mass production and assembly line techniques. If you don’t, ask and I’ll do my best to answer.


Sorry I edited this like three times, I wanted to make sure it was more lucid.


This is a method that I’m unfamiliar with, except for the explanation in the Clarks book- which is pretty old now, so I’m well out of my element here. My working knowledge is mostly for hand-welted, Goodyear-welted, stitch-down/out (and variations), machine-sewn, and board-lasted. I consider that stitch-out is not board lasting only because the machinery used is either different, or set up differently than the ones pulling the lasting margin under the insole board- but I will accept that it is a board :slight_smile:

I think what your saying- and correct me if I’m wrong- is how California lasted is different from Strobel is: the final sock liner is incorporated, instead of inserted after de-lasting- and allows it to be easier to use an anatomical last?

I’ve had conversations with factory owners about variations on machinery and operators using more or less force and accuracy in placing components into the machines. Does the sewn-in sock reduce that concern?

I’m a pretty visual person, so it’s taking me longer to interpret this since it’s so different (to me).
I’m an instructor, so it is good for me to to understand it better.


It could be a difference in semantics (this happens often with footwear terms I’ve found, with different ftys calling the same thing by different terms), but my understanding of strobel vs. california construction is different than mentioned above-

A textile “insole board” is stitched all the way around the shoe (with a special type of zig zag lock stitch) joining the upper to the bottom. The sockliner is inserted after the rest of the assembly as normal. Normally used for running shoes, basketball shoes or other shoes where flexibility is important.

The upper material wraps around to the bottom of the shoe, and is stitched with a zig zag type stitch in the center of the bottom along a seam that runs from toe to heel. The sockliner is still inserted after assembly.

I’ve never heard of/seen the sockliner being stitched in or part of the california construction or somehow incorporated into the last shape. The sockliner is normally the last thing to go into the shoe in assy along with laces…

Board lasted or cemented-
The upper is cemented (wraps around with a small lasting margin), a texon insole board (a type of carboard like material) that is placed onto the bottom of the last.
More typical for casual shoes, football boots, vulcanized shoes, etc.

If I get a chance tomorrow I can see if I can dig thru some samples to show some pics that might explain it better.

just my 0.02$ worth. I realize this might make it even more confusing, but just trying to help.

one good resource you might want to also check is

it’s more for dress shoes and UK based (I believe) so some terms might be different, and is very technical, so a bit confusing, but a great wealth of info.


Maybe this will help:


I’m wondering where that image came from?


I have a quick question regarding the Goodyear Welt Stitch construction (shown above in YO’s post):

Where does that sole stitch go (connecting the welt to the outsole)? In other words, how does the stitch go in and out, since it doesn’t go all the way through to the bottom of the outsole?

I have chosen asphalt paving footwear for my senior thesis, and I have been looking at different boot constructions for research. (I will post my progress/development soon in my own thread).

I appreciate any help/insight to my question…

The outsole stitch goes all the way through the sole or midsole. Usually it is buried in a groove so it does not get worn through immediately.

This link is the best image I could find:

Thanks Riotgeer. I understand the channel/groove method and have seen that used on some shoes and boots. But what about shoes/boots that don’t have the channel or groove? Is that possible? I have attached the diagram from YO’s post— how does that stitch go in and out, since there is no groove? Thanks…
goodyear welt stitch.JPG

i think in those cases (and the picture), what it is is two different layers of outsole material. You can see in the picture the top of the outsole that the stitch goes through is darker in color than the bottom. It also shows that red line of cement.

This would be something like where the top “outsole” part might be leather, and the bottom rubber, for example…


Richard has that right.
In this type of footwear, if there is a cemented outsole after the first one is stitched on- the first one is referred to as a midsole.

The image Yo posted is wrong BTW- pay close attention to the image I linked to where the upper meets the insole and is sewn to the welt.

We’re off topic- should I make a post describing Welted construction?