The shoe lasts are the form around which a shoe or boot is made and is what determines the shape and fit of the shoe. It is therefore absolutely paramount in getting right and a great deal of testing and research is carried out in order to get the desired shape. In the old days these were made of wood and were individually carved by hand. Inevitably this meant that there were some slight discrepancies in the shape of individual lasts as so much depended upon the keen eye of the last maker. These days technology has helped immensely and once the first last has been perfected it can be duplicated in half size increments by computer and machine in highly durable dense yellow plastic. Springline is the sole remaining lastmaker in Britain however they utilize the latest computer operated systems and are able to keep up with demand with relative ease.
Loake alone have 36 different lasts in their 2016 range of shoes and boots. This is in one respect great in that it enables a wide range of shapes to suit an extraordinary range of shoe and boot styles. However with the growth of internet shopping it means that a size that proved a good fit in one Loake style may not be as good a fit in another style made on a different last. Of course this isn’t an issue when visiting a shoe shop when the customer can try on various different sizes. Some other English shoemakers such as Cheaney, Trickers and Sanders will use a popular last in a number of different styles so that the customer can be sure that a good fit in one shoe will be the same in another style made on the same last.