An explanation of Loake lasts: Loake offer a huge variety of shoe and boot styles these days and the range of styles continues to expand at a rapid rate thanks to some of the best shoe designers in the industry. Perhaps the most important aspect of the design of any new style is the last around which the shoe or boot is made. The last determines not only the fit of the shoe but also the shape and therefore the overall appearance. The leathers and decoration are absolutely secondary to the last when it comes to a shoe’s success or failure.
Understandably therefore Loake use a variety of different last shapes for the five shoe collections: Loake 1880, Loake Shoemakers, Design Loake, Loake Lifestyle and entry level Loake L1. For the Spring 2018 collection the number of Loake lasts is 37 and great care is taken in selecting the perfect last for the proposed shoe or boot.
A separate Loake last is required for each half size of shoe and since Loake offer many styles from size 5 right through to 13 it is extraordinary just how many lasts are required when putting a couple of hundred or more shoes through production at any one time. The lasts are tied up for some time since good shoes need to remain ‘lasted’ for a couple of weeks. In the old days each last was individually carved by a skilled craftsman and last making itself was a huge stand along industry in Northamptonshire. Fortunately these days there are sophisticated computers that guide lathes to very accurately create identical lasts are half size increments.