A boot and shoe clicker is the person who cuts the uppers for boots or shoes from a skin of leather or piece of man-made material (usually from a bulk roll). This includes all components of the upper, including linings, facings, stiffeners, reinforcements for eyelets and zip-protectors.
The job was historically named prior to mechanisation, due to the sound of the operator’s hand-knife blade rattling against the brass edge-binding (including the joints in the binding) used to protect the board patterns which were overlaid on to the skin.
In larger factories there would be many hand-clickers in close proximity to one another, hence there would be many clicks per second, so the informal description became known as clicking by clickers.
It is a skilled trade because it is the clicker’s responsibility to maximise the number of uppers which can be cut from skins of leather, avoiding any thin and damaged areas, and incorporating the (unseen) ‘lines’ of stretch and resistance which naturally occur in leather according to the style and construction of the particular shoe. Another major criterion is the need to colour-shade the respective parts of the shoe uppers which are cut as a pair, not only matching the colour variations but also considering the surface finish and grain texture.