Feiyue is a popular sneaker brand that originated in Shanghai in the 1920's. They are very popular in the street fashion scene, as well as being a top choice for martial artists for their lightweight feel and flexible sole. If you've been living in China, you've probably seen them around!
Our friends over at Feiyue invited us to go check out their factory last week. The factory is located in the city of Rui'an in southern Zhejiang province. Rui'an is the production site of many other Chinese sneaker brands, including Renben and Huanqiu.
The Feiyue factory employs 1,100 people (mostly female), and is the only Feiyue production factory in China. Some of the shoes are designed on site, and oftentimes shoes are shipped out directly from the factory when an order is placed on Baopals. Son Sheng Tan has been the manager of this factory for 10 years and tells us 15,000 pairs of Feiyue shoes are made in the factory every day. That’s 25 pairs of shoes for every minute of work!
Feiyue production manager Wei Ying Shen is responsible for the design and production of Feiyue shoes. She is based in the Shanghai Feiyue office but makes trips out to the factory periodically to make sure everything is running smoothly and that there are no production issues. "There are 100 techniques for one pair of shoes!" she says. Based on what we saw on our visit, she doesn't seem to be exaggerating.
While there are many continuously moving and very detailed parts of the shoe-making process, we have broken it down into 7 basic steps below!
Step 1: The different upper parts of the shoe are cut and organized. They are then assembled, stitched together and reinforced where needed.
Step 2: The upper shoe parts are then transported to the main assembly line, where the sole and inner lining are attached. The metal foot form (the “last”) is inserted into the shoe. The upper part of the shoe is pulled tight to set the shape. This process is called "lasting".
Step 3: Moving down the line, the outer binding is attached to the main body of the shoe with glue.
Step 4: The shoes are then set on a rack to dry.
Step 5: The rack then makes its way to the heat tunnels, where the shoes are baked at 120 degrees Celcius for 45 minutes to achieve their soft, comfortable feel and set the glue that binds everything together.
Step 6: In the next step, shoelaces are hand laced into all the shoes. I bet you thought it was a machine, didn't you?
Step 8: Last but not least, the shoes are smoothed and polished, inspected, tags are added and they are put into shoeboxes, ready to be purchased!
At the end of our tour, Feiyue hooked us up with some comfy shoes! Thanks Feiyue!