Shoe lasts

Posted on Apr 2, 2014 in Blog

Ever since I wrote about the process for making plaster casts of an individual’s feet, I’ve gotten emails from people asking whether I would cast their feet when I make shoes. For the vast majority of my shoes and boots, I use vintage shoe lasts that are then custom fit to the individual. A “last” is a wooden or plastic mold that fits the foot and has the shape of a shoe. The shoes are built around this last, or mold.

I have collected a series of last “runs” over the years, and certainly have my favorites. The older the better! I share the same feelings as the guys over at BootLast.com, Terry and Ephraim Glueck, who talk a bit about what they like in a good last: “When I ‘d find a last from the 1980′s or 90′s they were thicker than the ones from the 1940′s and 50′s. The volume measurements were much larger than the old ones and I am under the assumption that the newer ones are trying to fit more people with that one last.”

Here are a few of my shoe lasts that I have been lucky enough to find in matched pairs, and not made into something horrible like candlestick holders or bookends:

late 1950s wooden shoe last

This women’s shoe last is from the late 1950s and is a great vintage shape with a comfortable 1.5″ heel incline.

Early 20th century men's wooden shoe last

This men’s shoe last is undated, but most likely comes from the early part of last century.

Finkany last with metatarsal bar and arch

The sole of this “Finkany” last (also early 20th century) has an area carved out for metatarsal and arch support.

Early 1960s women's chisel toe shoe last

Many shoe lasts have the names of the lastmaker and date stamped on them. This women’s pump last was made in February of 1960, and clearly has that vintage 1960s stiletto style.