A leather sneaker can be composed of up to 90 individual parts, depending on the intricacy of the design. With so many variable inputs, things can either come together perfectly like a symphony orchestra, or result in disaster like a pile-up in a NASCAR race. How can you, as a customer, tell the difference between the two? In this journal entry, we’ll provide you with insights on how to pick the perfect sneaker.
How to choose the perfect sneaker
Make sure it's built on a high quality last
One of the most important factors in picking the right sneaker is making sure that the shape is well designed. A sneaker’s shape is mainly determined by the last used during production. A last is a wooden or plastic form that has a similar shape to a foot. Think of it as the artificial foot that the shoe is built around. The exact shape of the last varies from one producer to another and makes a huge difference in how a shoe fits on a foot. The shape of the last is based on up to 35 distinct measurements, including tread, flare, toe spring, and four separate measurements of girth at the ball, waist, instep, and heel of the foot. An experienced last-maker can create a last that feels like it was custom-made for your foot. While there are a lot of last-makers in Italy, only a handful have the decades of experience necessary to make these kinds of high-quality lasts. Working with senior lastmakers at the most prestigious last manufacturers is the only way to ensure that the last will have this custom-made feel.
Check the materials and look at the details
The next factor to take into consideration when selecting the best sneaker for you is the materials used to make the shoe. If you want the best sneaker, you want premium materials and extreme attention to detail. An easy tell in terms of material quality, specifically leather, is checking its texture. Lower-quality leather is often coated with a thick plastic layer that makes the leather appear smooth and crisp. The shoe may look great on the shelf, but once worn a couple of times, the plastic coating wears off, resulting in a shoe that creases earlier and more often than a sneaker with premium leather. In order to spot the difference, take a close look at the leather on the sneaker — if it’s premium leather, you should be able to see the individual pores of the skin.
Another thing to look at is the stitching. Look for double or reinforced stitching in the toe-box or arch area of the sneaker, as great shoes will have double or reinforced stitching in high-stress areas to make the shoe more durable. Also look for sneakers with hand-painted edges, as the paint acts as a sealant for the leather, locking the edges into place and preventing wear and tear.
Know where its made
Seeing a “Made in Italy” label inside a shoe, you might think that the whole shoe is produced in Italy. That’s surprisingly unusual. Many producers outsource essential steps of their manufacturing process to low-wage countries, where most of the shoe is assembled and stitched, and then send the shoes back to Italy for an insignificant final step and labeling as “Made in Italy”. When looking for a “Made in Italy” sneaker, investigate where and how it is made. The best sneakers are made in one factory, from start to finish. When the pattern-making, sampling, cutting, stitching, mounting and detail work like embossing and painting are made by the same factory, it allows brands to maintain control over the finished product, resulting in a much more consistent and refined final product.
As you shop for your next pair of sneakers, look for information about the shape, the materials, and the manufacturing process. At Koio, we set the highest standard in each of those areas and work to make our sneakers come together like that symphony orchestra. Have a look at our Men’s Collection and Women’s Collection to see our latest styles.