Anatomy of a Sneaker Silhouette – Sneakerhead Jargon Explained

Are you interested in a new pair of trainers but confused by all of the sneakerhead jargon? The anatomy of the sneaker can be a complicated thing, especially as shoes come in many different shapes and sizes whilst boasting many different technical features for varied purposes. Essentially, most trainers consist of the same basic parts . Here is an explanation of the jargon along with our glossary per brand


Anatomy of a sneaker side view Anatomy of a sneaker side

  1. Toe Box – The toe box is usually made from leather or suede and can be perforated. Typically a running trainer’s toe box is made from nylon or mesh for increased breathability
  2. Midsole – The midsole can be found between the outsole and the upper. It is the place where the sneaker’s cushioning technology is applied and is often adorned with branding, print, embossing e.g.
  3. Outsole – These vary in treading label by label and depends upon the purpose of the shoe. With rubber the most common material of the outsole this part of the trainer is often stitched or bonded to the upper
  4. Foxing – Foxing is the piece of rubber that joins the upper to the sole
  5. Forefoot – Found at the bottom of the shoe where the ball of the foot sits. It is usually made with flexibility in mind and with grooves for ease of movement
  6. Heel – Where cushioning gains it’s most importance. The heel can be found at the rear of the shoe.
  7. Eyelets/ Eye Stays – For speed lacing and added stability
  8.  Insole/ Sockliner – Usually placed inside the shoe (often removable).  The insole contains a heel cup and arch support for added stability. Often made from PU Foam the sockliner makes for the perfect canvas for branding and designs
  9. Tongue – acts as support providing the shoe with a custom fit
  10.  Shoe Laces – Available in a variety of materials, and designs, laces help hold the shoe in place
  11. Aglets – At the end of the shoe lace and aglet helps the lace from fraying
  12. Heel patch – A blank space often used for branding
  13. Heel Counter – Wraps around the back of the shoe to stiffen the shoe for extra support
  14. Medial – The arch side of the shoe
  15. Lateral – The opposite to the medial. The side that faces outwards
  16. Lining – The inside of the upper, which is often constructed to be lightweight and breathable due to it’s direct contact with the foot
  17.  Ankle Collar – Important for high-top silhouettes the ankle collar is reinforced or padded for support
  18. Upper – A summary of all parts of the shoe excluding the midsole or outsole
  19. Lace Jewel – A decorative peice of plastic or metal that may sit at the bottom of some laces
  20. Loop Tag– Not a necessity but can help with putting the shoe on and be found on the tongue or heel


  • Bellows -A tongue that is attached to the outside of a trainer to help prevent rain or snow entering
  • Blown Rubber – An outsole material that is injected with air making it 40% lighter than standard rubber
  • EVA Midsole – A foamed midsole material that offers good cushioning and compression set.
  • Gum Sole – Non Marking, Grippy rubber sole
  • Herringbone Sole – A chevron pattern used on the sole for grip and traction
  • Hook & Loop Ankle Strap – A velcro strap placed around the ankle for increased support
  • Toe Guard – A cap that protects the toes
  • Vulcanaized Sole – A flexible sole that involves a rubber curing process making it more durable than regular rubber.



  • Adizero – Lightweight construction
  • Boost – A midsole that is made up of hundreds of nuggets of super-springy thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Developed to instantly ping back into shape
  • Ortholite – A sole foam material which takes up the wearers foot shape to provide more comfort. The material doesn’t absorb water and is antibacterial.
  • Criss- Cross One piece ankle bracing system – Found on the outer panel in the shape of an X
  • Web Midsole – Web netting covering the midsole to the heel acting as a torsion bar that compresses on landing
  • Dual-Density Polyurethane Sole – super lightweight sole
  • Multi Disk –  Wide grip outer sole that is made up of a number of trefoil disks that form grip cups for improved traction and help provide shock absorption
  • Primeknit (PK) – Knitted yarn developed for lightweight flexibility and support with a seamless finish
  • Shell Toe – A rubber toe cap that protects the forefrount
  • Suction Cups – provide better traction
  • Torsion – supports the midfoot providing better traction
  • TPU Heel Counter – adds stability and aids wearers with motion control problems


  • Gel Cushioning System – Exclusive silicone based technology that is placed in high impact areas of the midsole to provide shock absorbtion
  • Split Tongue – Eradicates discomfort formed by standard tongues that slide away with movement
  • Sticky Sole– Provides extra grip and mobility


  • Abzorb -Cushioning for increased shock absorbtion
  • C-CAP– Compression mouled EVA midsole
  • Encap– Blown rubber saturated with air molecules that is designed to disperse shock
  • Rollbar – TPU Posting system that minimises rear foot movement


  • ACG (All conditions Gear)  – Refers To Nike’s outdoor training shoes
  • Air 180 – An Air Unit that is visible from 180 degrees with a visible protected unit on the outsole
  • Air Max 90 – Half an air max 90 unit used to cushion the heel combined with An Air Current Sole allowing the foot to flex freely
  • BRS 1000 – Long lasting rubber used on outsoles
  • Dynamic Support – Foam cushioning that sits on the midsole providing support for running silhouettes
  • Flyknit – a one piece upper that is made from knitted yarns to make a lightweight form fitting upper
  • Foamposite – Liquid foam is poured into a moulded upper that solidifies
  • Footscape – Specially formed sole designed to support a wider foot
  • Free – a sole that features deep teeth like slices that encourages flexibility and extension
  • Huarache – An exposed shock absorption system that holds to foot more efficiently reducing the risk of injury
  • ION-Mask – Liquid repellent coating technology that acts as an all round water repellent
  • Max Air – A form of Air cushioning that is always visible in the midsole and contains maximum air volume
  • Moire – An almost stitch free upper with maximum breathability
  • Nike Air – Nike’s cushioning technology
  • No-Sew – seams that are pressure welded to create a streamlined silhouette with increased water repellent
  • Phylon – More lightweight, non-yellowing foam midsole
  • Presto Cage -0 A lacing system that extents to the sides
  • Torch – A seamless three layer system that allows moisture to leave the shoe
  • Visible Air – An air unit that is always visible in the midsole
  • Woven – An elasticated woven upper
  • Zoom Air – Super responsive cushioning that responds to stress


  • Pump – An internal inflation system with an air chamber that surrounds the foot providing a custom fit.

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