The upper of a shoe is the most visible part of a shoe and probably the part of the shoe that most affects how it feels on your foot. A good upper is truly a function of having both good form and good function. In addition, a well-designed and constructed upper will meet costing goals, be easily manufactured, and not lead to quality issues. Sending design drawings directly to your factory and trusting them to accomplish all of this can be time consuming and risky. At POC, our experience is that building a prototype or sample upper before sending any information to the factory can help greatly reduce these risks.
The POC sample room is outfitted with all the necessary equipment to create a high-quality upper. This includes a supply of standard materials like leather, synthetic leather, canvas, mesh, lining packages, foam, etc. Once a pattern is used to cut the various parts out of these materials, we have numerous different sewing and treatment machines like splitters and skivers to assemble the upper. Finally, we also have lasting equipment and a strobel machine to finish the upper with either cement or strobel construction.
To our knowledge, POC has the only independent sample room capable of building high-quality prototype uppers. So whether you have a new concept or start-up idea that needs to be proven or you have designs that you want to “get right” before sending information to a factory or you just have a new design you want to prototype, we can help you.
Most footwear is made up of two general components, the upper that wraps around your foot and the bottom that goes underneath the foot. The bottom is typically made out of foams, gels, plastics and rubber that are made in molds. The upper is typically made out of flat materials like leather, mesh, and textiles that are cut, cemented and stitched together. However, before you can put the pieces of the upper together, the pieces need to be created – which is commonly called pattern engineering.
Similar to the garment industry, a footwear pattern is comprised of the various pattern pieces or shapes of all the individual components of the shoe upper. Creating a good pattern is the key to building a well fitting, aesthetically pleasing and functional shoe. In addition, once the initial shoe sample is created (sample size) the first pattern needs to be graded across the complete size run of shoes. Using correct grading parameters is also crucial to creating quality products.
Many companies send drawings of new projects directly to their overseas factories and allow them to create the sample pattern, develop the sample size shoes and eventually grade the size run. However, these same companies regularly complain about how long this process takes, how often the samples come back with mistakes and the number of fit and comfort issues they have throughout the final production line of shoes. At POC, we use cutting-edge pattern-engineering hardware and software tools and we have footwear experts capable of using these tools to create accurate initial patterns and samples and then after confirmation, if needed, to help grade the entire size run. The initial financial investment for these services is easily recovered by the time saved to bring the product to market and the quality of the final product.