Chaco sandals are a common sight around the UBB office (our CEO is known to offer a handy toe-loop tutorial for new Chaco owners), so we jumped at the chance to collaborate on a capsule collection. Our starting point for this collab was, incidentally, the starting point for each and every sandal that gets made in Chaco’s Rockford, Michigan factory: Chaco’s iconic jacquard webbing.
Once we landed on our minimal wave design, the UBB design team got to work on a complimentary collection inspired by our mutual love of the water. Meanwhile, the Chaco team put our sandal into production — and kindly took us through the process so we could watch our dream shoe come to life.
How They Make the Straps
Every sandal made in Chaco’s Rockford, Michigan factory starts and ends with the webbing (or the colorful straps that make Chaco’s so easy to recognize). The Chaco’s team cuts and sews most of the webbing together before beginning assembly on the sole of the shoe.
Factory workers use thermal equipment to cut the webbing, and then use four different sewing machines — each programmed to do a specific stitch — to create the Z-shaped strap. The Z-strap allows for a more customizable fit, as it wraps around the foot to securely hold it in place.
How They Make Each Sole
We were completely mesmerized as we watched the Chaco team trim away at the outsole of the sandal to form a perfect footbed. It turns out that this process was actually put in place to accommodate for future repairs (the Chaco factory also restores old sandals through their ReChaco program). Sandals are commonly sent back to be resoled, and a larger outsole accommodates for changes to the sole after years of wear — it’s much easier to match up to whatever shape the sandal has taken.
How They’ve Done It for Years
The first Chaco sandal was made in a river guide’s garage, using an allen wrench attached to a baking rack to weave the webbing through the sandal. While the company has grown and changed over the years, this technique hasn’t: The team has found that there’s no better way to create a Chaco sandal.