Top 5 Common Defects in Shoes and How to Address Them

18 Apr 2019 TIC 101

Top 5 Common Defects in Shoes and How to Address Them

Have you bought any defective shoes recently? Many of us may encounter quality problems when buying a new pair of shoes. Sometimes, the sole of one shoe separates from the upper part; other times, the size of the shoes are not right but we didn’t really notice until after we started wearing them.

By Bureau Veritas Technical Services 3 minute read

Wear and tear with constant use are also common since shoes are not made to last forever. However, the manufacturer is responsible for managing quality defects in shoes rather than the customers themselves.

Today we will look at the top five common quality defects that are unique to shoes. It helps customers to know what to look for when buying new shows, and helps importers of shoes to improve quality at their factories.

1. Excess Glue, Wax or Oil

The most common quality defects in shoes are excess glue, wax or oil marks. This is because:

- Most shoe production facilities use adhesives and other chemicals during production, and

- Factory workers are less likely to protect against or remedy issues like excess glue, wax or oil when rushing to complete an order, which is often the case for most factories.

Glue, wax or oil residue may lead to customer dissatisfaction and consequently a poor market share for the manufacturer. So how can we prevent defects from appearing?

Most commonly, shoes are often left with material residue because of the chemicals or adhesives they’re exposed to during manufacturing. But there are some simple ways of preventing this quality defect from remaining on the finished goods, namely:

- Make sure factory workers aren’t using too much glue or other chemicals during production, and

- Any excess material left on the shoes after production is wiped away prior to packaging.

2. Degumming or Weak Cementing

Usually evident on shoes with rubber soles, such as sneakers, degumming or weak cementing happens when there is insufficient adhesive used when applying the sole to the upper part of the shoe. This defect is usually found between the join lines.

Preventing degumming or weak cementing

It’s important to make sure that the factory manufacturing the footwear is using the correct type of adhesive. But the more common cause for weak cementing or degumming is not enough adhesive applied between shoe components. So, make sure workers are using enough adhesive but not too much. You’ll often find excess adhesive apparent around the seal if too much adhesive is used during binding.

3. Abrasion Marks

Abrasion marks are often considered a more serious defect when found on leather shoes or those with a glossy surface because the marks are more obvious. Abrasion marks are usually caused by poor handling by factory workers during the production process.

Addressing abrasion marks found on shoes

If you’re an importer and find abrasion marks on a significant number of pieces in an order, there are a few factors that you should investigate, such as:

- Are factory workers handling the product roughly? Are they wearing gloves while working?
- Are the shoes subject to a lot of unnecessary movement between work stations?
- Does the packaging provide enough protection to prevent abrasions during transit?

Abrasions are not always easy to spot. That’s why having a client-approved sample with you or a third-party inspection company while checking shoes is extremely useful: The sample can provide a helpful contrast between what is acceptable and what is not.

4. Asymmetry in Shoes

Quality defects in shoes in line with other softlines products include asymmetry. Asymmetry can be an issue where different components of shoes do not line up as they should. Some asymmetry examples commonly found on a shoe or pair of shoes are:

The sole of the shoe does not line up with the body from a front, rear or side view;

- Certain parts of the shoe aren’t straight, such as the tongue; and
- One part of one shoe is higher or lower than the same part of its counterpart in a pair (often called “hi-low”).

Asymmetry in shoes is often related to issues with the cutting or fitting of the components.

Finding asymmetry in shoes

Issues with shoe symmetry should be addressed with the manufacturer.

The best way to find asymmetry in shoes is to place them side by side or back to back. Essentially, you need to determine whether or not the shoes reflect each other in terms of height, width, color and so on. For example, if you place shoes back to back, you need to observe that the height of the heel is the same on each one, otherwise you have a defect.

5. Incorrect Sizing

Most standard shoe sizing tools last for a while. It’s possible, however, that due to an error during the production process, the shoe was labelled and packaged with the incorrect size. This should be considered a major defect because shoes that don’t match specifications for size are likely going to be unsellable.

It’s unusual to find shoe sizing inconsistent due to production processes. Incorrect sizing is usually a result of the way the finished shoes are sorted and packaged. Naturally, shoe sizing discrepancies are more common in factories that are disorganized. And often all that’s needed to prevent incorrect sizing is better procedures for handling, packaging and storing the finished product. Taking a look at a factory’s warehouse and packaging areas; they can tell you a lot about the likelihood of incorrect sizing.

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