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Basic question about shoe design, please . . .


Senior Member
Oct 24, 2007
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Hi, all.

I'm new to the world of shoes and would appreciate someone explaining something to me.

In this photo from Edward Green, note the profile view of this shoe, especially as it goes from toe to center:


Now, look at a very similar one from Carmina,

The angle from toe to the center seems to be much steeper (unless I'm seeing things) in the Carmina -- i.e., the center portion appears taller? Or perhaps the Carmina having a taller heel, and thus to compensate it needs to have a taller center portion?

What exactly is the term for this? Is there a reason for the difference in construction (functionally), or is it just what the designer preferred to do aesthetically? (In all honesty, it seems the Carmina does what many John Lobb shoes do in terms of the steep angle, but I'm not sure I like it.)

Thank you.
Last edited:


Distinguished Member
Dubiously Honored
Mar 23, 2002
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The style is known as "Oxford" and every shoemaker/manufacturer has this style in their program. (Oxford is also the name of the family of shoe designs: variations on the same theme, but with more features like perforation or a wing-tip toe cap.)

Every shoe has two components that decide the look of a particular shoe: the last and the pattern. The last is the form (wood or plastic) over which the shoe gets built and defines the internal space of the shoe. The Carmina last seems to have a higher instep than the EG, so, if your foot has a high instep, you will be better served with the Carmina. If your foot is shallower, the EG will be a better fit. Actually trying on different shoes is paramount to find the right fit. As a general rule (I'm sure there are exceptions), Southern Europe creates higher insteps in their last then Northern Europe. This might correspond to the typical Latin foot versus the typical Anglo-Saxon/Scandinavian foot, or is more an aesthetic preference.

Pattern refers to the various components that form the shoe upper. Although the Carmina and the EG look identical at first glance, closer inspection will reveal that the proportions of the various leather pieces do vary, so one design will be smoother, better flowing, aesthetically more pleasing than another design.

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