[TOKAY Story] LAST: the Critical Part you can’t see

In the shoe industry there is a saying “Last comes First”. The Last is the shape on which your shoes are built, and that gives their fit. It’s the first thing to determine before validating the upper or the outsole. 

Read on to learn how we made TOKAYs comfortable and efficient for your feet.

What exactly is the last? 

The last is the shape on which the shoes are made, it determines their inner shape.

You can see how they enter into the fabrication process in that video that shows how TOKAY prototypes were made:

To make a last, the shaper uses a standard foot shape, to which they will add or remove some material to adapt it to the requirements.

This shape depends on many parameters:

The making of a last is a subtle mix of art and science, and requires a lot of experience.

Once the wooden last has been validated, it is scanned and scaled in each size. The lasts are then produced to be used for production. In a project such as TOKAY, approximately 100 lasts are required. They are made in a plastic that can be melted and re-used at the end of the project.

How is our last specific to Ultimate?

In Ultimate we don’t need to control anything but our body with our feet. This allowed us to make a more anatomical shape, bringing more comfort and movement efficiency to the players. 

Most of the cleats on the market are too narrow, either because the sport they are made for requires to control something with the foot – like in soccer – or for aesthetic reasons -like most of the football shoes.

A narrow last compresses your feet, while those would rather require some space to expand naturally. Why? When you run, the arches of your feet – formed by your bones and bent by your tendons – expand to absorb and then restore the energy between your body and the ground. If your feet cannot expand naturally, not only do you prevent them from working at their best, but you also increase the risk of injuries.

The changes we made to a traditional last

  • Wider sole base: a wider sole base gives more space to the foot to naturally expand when running. It also limits the wear and tear on the side of the shoe, by limiting the tension on the soft materials. At last, a wider sole base allows for a wider outsole, providing more ankle stability.
  • Wider toe box: As well as the sole base, the wider toe box allows your toes to move more naturally inside the shoes when cutting.
  • Higher toe box: A higher toe box prevents the top of the shoes from pressing on your toenails, preventing blue nails.

If you have a closer look to TOKAYs forefoot, you could almost say they look like sneakers. In reality their shape is in between soccer and sneaker, as too much room would let your feet crawl into the cleats, creating other problems such as blisters. 

That’s when the art of the last maker comes in…

Our last’s (but not least) story.

The way you spent the time on a 14h road trip.

When I started TOKAY, I had a roadtrip to the holy place of shoemaking in Europe: Montebeluna, Italy. It also happens to be the region of Prosecco if you ever tried that sparkling wine (haven’t you? You should 😉 ).

North of Italy is still very industrialized, most of the sectors are full of small, very specialized companies, strongly bonded together to deliver outstanding products. Italian craftsmanship is outstanding, most of these companies rely on very technical experts that could be called artists in their field of competence.

We took the road with my brother and crossed all the north of Italy from West to East to meet a shoemaker I was in contact with. Even if we didn’t end up working together, he gave me the address of one of the most famous Last making companies in the area. 

I tried to call them but had no answer. As it was our last day in Italy, I decided to go and visit them anyways.

As I wasn’t expected I was received directly by the Last maker, instead of the usual sales representative. Wed could have a chat with him for 2 hours, explaining the sport and its movements. He took out of the shelves a couple of existing lasts to understand how he could work from them to make the exact right shape that would fit you best.

A few weeks later I received the last I’m still using on the TOKAY Flight.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and could learn more on how cleats are made. If you have any question related to the article, drop it in the comment section!

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