Components of a Sneaker

By Anna Sork

Components of a Sneaker

Here's a quick cheat-sheet on the anatomy of a sneaker.

NOTE: Some of these terms are interchangeable and can vary from person to person or shoe to shoe. But these are the terms that we use in our studio.

  1. SHOE LACES: Fastens and keeps your foot secure in the shoe.
  2. TONGUE: Protects the top of the foot and prevents laces from rubbing against the foot.
  3. TOE BOX: Sometimes referred to as a "vamp". This is the part of the shoe that covers and protects the toes. Usually has perforation for breathability.
  4. TOE CAP: Sometimes referred to as a "Mud Guard" - Adds strength and structure to the upper front of the shoe and gives additional protection to the tips of your toes.
  5. QUARTERS (MEDIAL / LATERAL): Helps keep your foot secure inside of the shoe. 
  6. OUTER HEEL COUNTER: Provides stability and protection.
  7. COLLAR: Connects to the upper part of the eyelet row to make the shoe conform to the shape of the foot. Most times the collar will have foam or soft material inside, wrapping just below the ankle to give a snug, gap-free fit.
  8. EYELET ROW: Where your laces are threaded through and adjusts the fit of the shoe.
  9. HEEL TAB: Covers the zigzag stitch that connects the medial and lateral heel counters.
  10. SWOOSHES: Branded component, also hides the zigzag stitch that connects the collar to the heel counter.
  11. HEEL COLLAR AKA "MUSTACHE": Helps secure your foot in place with the rest of the collar.
  12. MIDSOLE: Provides cushioning and shock absorption.
  13. OUTSOLE: Part of the sole that touches the ground. Usually has tread and provides traction.


  1. LINING: Covers the inside seams of the shoe. This particular lining is made out of soft mesh material & ⅛ open cell foam that provides cushion and comfort, helping draw out moisture.
  2. COLLAR FOAM: Provides comfort around the ankle.
  3. HEEL COUNTER: Thermoplastic material that molds to the heel of the shoe and provides protection and support to the heel of the shoe.
  4. TOE PUFF: Thin thermoplastic material that provides structure to the front of the shoe so it doesn’t collapse and helps provide toe space.
  5. STROBEL BOARD: Flat piece of fabric used to close the shoe upper, turning it into a sock or booty which then can then be soled.
  6. INSOLE: Soft foam material that provides additional comfort.