Do You Know Your Sneaker Anatomy?

Most people know that there is quite an amount of thought and design that goes into making a sneaker, but they more than likely could not label the parts of a sneaker. A lot of the beautiful sneakers that we know and love get the same amount of brainstorming and attention as some of the vehicles on the road! Yes, I know they that they are two completely different items, but if you were ever see the amount of blueprints and drawings that go into these sneakers that we wear you would be amazed.

That being said, before I got involved with Sole Theory I didn’t appreciate the amount of work that went into sneakers and their design. I knew that I was failing to appreciate the amount of work that went into these beautiful pieces because when it came time to do research on sneakers I felt like I was reading Arabic due to the terminology I was reading…no joke. If I have lost you let me put it to you this way…when you ask someone about parts on their sneakers rarely will you hear them talk about the “midsole”, “innersole” and the “toe box” of their sneaker. You will more then likely hear them refer to the “sides”, “inside” and “toe” of their sneaker.

I will be the first to admit that I didn’t know the make up of a sneaker and how to properly dissect the various parts of it, but I now have that knowledge and will pass it on to you!

Fellow sneakerheads I give you a lesson in Sneaker Anatomy follow this closely and use it wisely!

01. The Toe Box

This portion of the sneaker is found at the front of the sneaker. It can be made into many shapes depending on the style of sneaker. It can also made out of various fabrics such as suede, leather, nubuck etc.

02. Tongue

The basic tongue is normally found under the laces to secure a good fit for the person wearing the sneaker. As of lately this portion of the sneaker has evolved with things such as the inner sock technology made popular by Nike Huarache line.

03. Ankle Support (Also referred to as an Ankle Collar)

This portion of the sneaker is used to support the ankle. This is often found on the high-top sneaker models. Ankle supports are not typically seen on many sneakers today, but it was very popular in many basketball sneakers released in the 80s and 90s.

04. Side Panel and Heel Patch

This portion of the sneaker where the manufacturer will normally place their branding.

05. Innersole

Over many years this portion of sneakers has evolved in so many ways. The purpose of this section of the sneaker is mainly to provide comfort, cushioning and stability for the person that is wearing it.  Some of the main features of the innersole are the heel cup and arch support.

06. Eyelets

Eyelets are a very common section amongst most sneakers and are used for speed lacing to add more stability. Sometimes you may come across eyelets being referred to as “eyestays” in certain circumstances.

07. Shoelaces

These are used to tighten the sneaker and hold the shoe in place.

08. Outsole

This portion of the sneaker is usually stitched or bonded securely to the sneaker. You will find that hard-wearing rubber is usually used.  As you can imagine depending of the type and style of the sneaker there is a different type of outsole used for the sneaker.

09. Midsole

This is a very important portion of the sneaker because it usually where the technology is located within the sneaker. It is located between the upper and the outsole of the sneaker.

10. Forefoot

This is the section that is located at the front of the sneaker, which is under the ball of the foot. Various manufacturers design flexible grooves here to give the sneaker different ranges of motion for comfort and performance.

11. Heel

This is found at the back of the sneaker. It is at this location of the sneaker where the manufacturers put their cushioning technology. Example…Nike Air Visible Unit.

As we all know the list can go on and on with various features, but these are the very basic sections of a sneaker that all sneakerheads should know about. Once you get the basics down everything else becomes much easier to understand. Make sure to a good hold on these terms because they are something you will see a lot of when researching and reading up on your favorite sneakers.

Due to the fact that there are so many terms and parts of sneakers that were not mentioned in this article be sure to be on the lookout for the Sole Theory Glossary. This is where the more detailed breakdowns of sneaker features will be located…

If you have any questions or comments make sure to interact and follow us at:

Twitter : @soletheory

Facebook: Sole Theory

Instagram: @soletheory

Get Involved

Have an idea for a topic or a suggestion for Sole Theory? Feel free to visit our contact page.

About Sole Theory

Sole Theory is a sneaker lifestyle guide that explores the social impact of the sneaker culture. Users can expect to gain insight on recent trends, historic brands and signature styles that have heavily influenced the shoe industry. Content will be driven by articles, interviews and reviews that will uncover interesting facts and stories that have rarely been told.