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.