The Engineering of a Sandal

A sandal goes through the engineering process just like any other product, from conception to production. Here is how it is done.

Phase 1 - Design

Just like an artist, the sandal designer starts with an idea. Do they want to make a dressy sandal, a comfortable sandal, or a minimalist sandal? The conception phase is usually driven by the company that the designer works at; an Italian shoe designer, for example, is going to want a very different sandal than an American company specializing in sport sandals.

Depending on the simplicity of the sandal, the designer may simply work with fabrics and plastics, cobbling together their latest creation by hand, or they may have to plot everything out on the computer with the aid of a CAD design program.

Phase 2 - Testing

This phase may be very long or very short depending on the company. Some companies hire podiatrists and other medical professionals, such as chiropractors, to test the product once it is designed. Some tests can get fairly involved, measuring gait, speed of stride, and rotational movement of the foot. It may be back to the drawing board if the company does not like the test results.

This is rarely the approach for the higher end sandal designer - they are more concerned with the stylish nature of the sandal, and how well received it will be on the runway, then how medical professionals react to the product. If you want style, you want a dressy sandal. If you want engineered comfort, go for the pricier comfort sandal; you know from the price that they have more money for research and development.

Phase 3 - Production

Once a design has been ironed out and tested, it is time to produce enough of them for all of the people who wish to buy them. Most companies that manufacture sandals do so in developing countries like China or Thailand. This does not mean that quality is sacrificed; company representatives frequently visit their factories to ensure that the production is going according to the design, and the proper materials are being used.

A shoe and sandal production line will feature various leatherworking, shaping, and gluing machines. Detail work is often kept to a minimum in order to conserve dollars. A typical sandal takes less than 30 minutes to make.

The higher end dressy sandals are crafted in a much more time-intensive and painstaking manner; the brand name and this care are what justifies their higher price. A high end sandal may take as long as a whole day to produce.

Phase 4 - Marketing And Sales

This phase is not so much a phase as a concurrent step with the others. There is no point to making the sandal if nobody is going to wear it. Aggressive promotion of the season's line through brand promotion and samples of the new line sent to stores ensure that buyers know about the sandal, and hopefully through persuasion will add them to their summer shoe lineup.

About the Author

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