Style: BWS Shoe Last Guide

The shoe last is the basic building block of any shoe. It determines the shape, fit, instep, pattern and support of the shoe. It is the foundation in which the design will be built around in order to achieve the desired look. One could say that it is the soul of the shoe which will be a large factor as to the outcome of the finished shoe.

Aside from the basics of fitting and arch-support, the shape of the shoe last determines the purpose and designs which will fit the shoe last best. For example, lasts with thinner profiles tend to make better plain toes and captoes since the sleeker appearance will compliment the simple and straightforward toe box detailing whereas a fully brogued wingtip would be out of place since all the details would be crammed into a small space. Rounder and stubbier lasts are also more suited for casual and rugged designs as compared to sleeker and pointier ones which are perfect for dress shoes and craft/art shoes.

All our master lasts in Black Wing are sculpted in house in order to ensure that we get the basic fit properly and also to practice last modification which is integral to our process as a custom fit shoe workshop. Lasts are studied for their performance based on how much adjustments we need to make for clients who have shoes made with them. After each review cycle which is around 6 months, we either maintain or revise and update the last to be able to meet client requirements. So here I will discuss the current shoe lasts that we use along with its inspiration and history.

C013 / The Classic Last

The C013 was designed to be our go-to last for all occasions and sizes. It was designed to be sleek but could be easily modified to fit wider feet. The shape has a pointy but rounded tip which creates a basic silhouette which is akin to traditional work shoes from Europe. The shape is also generous on top creating a more traditional shape without looking like work boots.

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Because of the C013’s profile, almost all designs fit and look good on it. The main concern is that the lack of sleekness tends to make it look too much of a work/everyday shoe rather than a black tie pair at times. Wingtips on C013 create a great balance and proportion. More versatile designs like double monks would fit a variety of attires from jeans to suits. Pairs with Luna soles can even be worn with shorts! Overall, it is our classic which was made to be a mainstay in our collection.

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S016 / The Square Last

The S016 last is our take on the popular square shaped lasts which were big back in the mid-late 2000s. It was also a response to the demand for Aldo like shoes back when we first started. When I realized that we need to address this demand, I designed a flatter and sleeker last which is fit for most modern patterns which are minimalist in nature thus required a slimmer looking shape. The trick we used back then was to put all the bulge at the bottom of the last to create a slim top, the main drawback was the shoes had a tendency to point upward, something that most square shaped lasts then and even up until now.

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Hand colored plain wholecut on S013 last

We recently updated the S013 into the S016. We balanced the last further by lowering the tip while maintaining the slim profile by fixing some of the proportions on the side of the last. The result is a wider tip but sleeker and more fit for the Filipino market which is predominantly wide/flat footed because majority of us grew up in slippers and sandals which is a big factor in determining foot profile.

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Imperial Oxford Wingtip – Classic on S016 last

The S016 is designed to be sleek and works best for office and formal use. The designs that go well with it include oxford captoes and double monks. Minimalist patterns and designs fit best since the proportions of the shoe would not allow the pattern to be too busy. The basic last perfect for those who want something for work, business and formal occasions.

CH15 / The Chisel Toe

The CH15 is actually based on a Santoni pair that a client brought in for repair. We took the general profile of the shoe and carved our own version of it since local techniques are not suited to be able to replicate the fitting and silhouette of the original. It is a very elongated last, often having a toe allowance of 1.25″ from the tip. This silhouette is ideal for use in very formal/black tie events. It also has a low and slim profile akin to the S016 last making it the “upgraded” version of our then S013. The fit, since it is elongated, suits normal and wide fittings just fine. Issues would arise with EE fittings but we recently developed a method to overcome that issue. Overall, it a sleek looking last which is best for wingtip and plain toe designs.

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I016 / The Italian

The I016 is the update of our now discontinued i0914 last. The I-series was supposed to have chisel toes and other Italian inspired shapes but the original did not fare well in terms of demand due to the pointed and upward sloping tip. While it was sleek, it was also not as balanced as how we wanted it to be. We then updated it recently into the I016 which is a sleeker and more streamlined version of our C013 with the signature “nose” which is the definitive feature for the I-series lasts. The profile is lower which something that was borrowed from the S-series lasts.

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Wholecut “Joaquin” with snake skin accents

The detailing on the I016 is more pronounced than on the C013 but still maintains subtle lines which makes it more appealing for those looking for a more curvy shoe than the C013. While it was also be considered as a round-tip, it draws more inspiration from Carmina’s Forest last but again revised to fit local conditions better.

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Tops13 / The Topsider

The Tops13 is the classic Marikina boat shoe/topsider last. It fits snugly as boat shoes here are often worn as loafers than actual lace ups. It is based on US standard fitting but lacks a bit of toe space which only has a 5mm-8mm clearance. We have used it for various styles aside from topsiders since then from espadrille types to sneakers. There are also variants of the decksoles available in the local market such as the cupsoles (though the fit is a bit too narrow). A great casual shapem the rounded tip and high profile makes it a good last even for those with wide feet.

D13 / The Driver

The D13 is loosely based on the drivers of Superga. We had to make changes in the profile as the fitting is a bit off when we start to modify the last to accommodate wider feet. It has a flat instep which makes it unsuitable for use with standard heeled outsoles. We have to modify it every time we want to make loafers with heels on it and even then it can only accommodate a low heel which is roughly 15mm high. It is still a very popular last as it serves as a very comfortable leather shoe for daily and casual use.

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It is perfect with shorts and slim-tapered chinos/denim. It is a very casual last and is NOT a formal/business shoe alternative. I have to state that driving shoes are NEVER apt with the business attire. I often see a lot of people at the mall wearing drivers with long sleeves and black pants while at work. The look just doesn’t mesh well and one might as well be wearing leather sandals with a business suit. While leather drivers are still leather shoes, the profile of the shoe is best left to casual and relax/winding down moments than when at work with them.

CE15 / The Classic English

The CE15 last was developed as part of a shelved project called the #onesoleproject which aimed to utilize the readily available mass produced topsider/deck soles as the base outsole for a variety of designs. The base is that of the Tops13 last in order to fit into the outsoles but the toe box and lace silhouette are heavily modified to resemble classic English work shoes. It has a flatter and lower toe box profile as compared to the Tops13 last but is not as pointy as the C013. The toe box resembles the I016 more as the inspiration for the last profile is that of traditional European work shoe designs.

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The CE15 was designed to be a more casual last to be used with deck soles, R-Types and Luna Soles. We are also experimenting with using it as a base for our handcrafted sneaker collection which includes the updated Play sneaker profile.

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Hb16 / The Hawks Bill

The Hb16 is the newest addition to the BWS custom lasts. This is what the i0914 should have been back when we were still learning how to sculpt sleeker lasts. This is a well proportioned last which can be easily modified to fit up to EE fittings without compromising the slim outline of the shoe. It’s characteristic chisel toe is less prominent than that of the Ch15 and has a higher profile akin to the C013. It is a very formal pair which is best highlighted with custom patina wholecut oxford and modern derby designs. The toe allowance is between 1.15″ to 1.25″ which brings the shoe length closer to the C013 even though it is a sleek pair and shares characteristics akin to the CH15. The standard fitting for this last is also better as it was designed to have a balance between proportion and styling.

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While at home in formal occasions, the Hb16 can also be used in smart casual occasions especially when paired with a good fitting upper and tapered pants. It’s profile will create a sleek and dapper look which will project a sense of care in ones fashion choices. This is poised to become one of our classics and a definitive part of our premium lasts lineup which currently includes the Ch15 and I016 lasts.

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