The Shoe Snob Blog

October 1, 2012

Written by , Posted in News

How To Become A Shoe Designer Part 4: The Manufacturing Side


A rough draft of my collection – certain things will be changed…

If you make it to the point in which you are ready to have your collection made but just need someone to actually create the designs, physically, then you are nearly there. Nearly there in the sense that you have overcome many of the hurdles to becoming a shoe designer, BUT, this will be the biggest, hardest and longest one of all. Dont let me discourage you with that statement though, as it will also be the most rewarding because after all it is with the manufacturing that you will then actually create your line, turn your sketches/patterns into actual real life products and have something that has your brand/name in it. But also due to this you will need to be absolutely sure of your choice as choosing a factory is like choosing a life partner. Its a HUGE commitment that will set the tone for how your shoes/brand will be perceived by the public, not something easily reversible should it all go wrong. Therefore, I will do my best to tell you how I believe that one should go about finding the right manufacturer for their brand.

MICAM — Shoe Fair in Milan
First and foremost, you need to look at your designs and your last shapes (or at least think about what last shape that you are going to want to use) and ask yourself what style they match i.e. what countrys design/cons ethos do they most correlate to? For example, if you are intending to create classic shoes with heavy soles and round lasts, you may want to get your shoes made in Hungary or England, as they tend to be good at making these styles. Or if you want long, pointed lasts with lightweight soles and thin leathers, best to think about Italy or say Portugal (where many French shoemakers get their shoes made). Once you have this decided, it will be easier for you to make a decision (or at least rule out the unnecessarys for when the time comes). Another reason for this, is that I have been told that some fussy factories will not make shoes that they dont like, or should I say, that they dont find represent well their capabilities and/or reputation. And lastly because certain countries only do certain constructions, say England, whose factories only really make goodyear welted shoes. That being if you wanted blake stitched shoes, you would not be wise to go ask them to make them for you, as it would be waste of time and effort.
England
Crockett & Jones
Hungary
Laszlo Vass
The next stage would be to go to a shoe fair/trade show (like MICAM, picture above) where factories will come to present their product to designers/journalists/retail buyers etc. At these trade shows, you will be able to see factories from all over the world and more importantly their shoe making capabilities. At that point, you can network with a few, talk to them, suss them out and see who you like best based on price, quality, capabilities (finishing/designing etc.) and most importantly how amicable they seem. Remember that these will be the people that create a product with your name on it. They have power over you if you lie in bed with them, and you therefore need to make sure that you will be able to get on with them..And to not lay all your eggs in one basket, you may want to find 3 that you like, ask them to make a sample for you, see which one turns out best and then pick that one, so long as it meets all of the other criteria. Once you locked down a factory, expect to pay a few thousand for your samples (as they will undoubtedly need to remake them a few times) and then you will be well on your way to launching your own line!
Italy
Paolo Scafora
Spain
Magnanni
Portugal
Marc Guyot
This is pretty much as far as I have come to on my own journey within the shoe industry, so I will leave it at this for now. Maybe in a year, once I have released my line and gone through the next stages, I will update this post to continue on helping where I can. I hope that this post has given those of you who are looking to start your own shoe line, the inspiration to go and do so, or at least to start preparing!
Best of luck to all!
Justin, The Shoe Snob

  • Adam

    Love your tan toe cap model on the bottom row!

  • Alex B

    You collection is looking great! Any of your samples happen to be a 9.5? I HAVE to try one!!!

    By the way, I had a little chuckle to myself that the style examples from both England and Hungary showed Italian-inspired lasts from the respective makers. Your mouse-clicking finger just won’t let you do round and clunky, will it?!

    Thanks for another great piece.

  • Adrian D

    Don’t think I’ve ever seen a kilt on a desert boot!

    I’m hoping when you release you’ll be making sizes up to US12 and able to ship internationally, otherwise I’ll have to plan a trip to the States

  • is that a navy blue suede/calf single monk? Bliss Mr. Fitzpatrick.

  • michael.roberson10

    Hello Justin FitzPatrick,
    Just checked out “How to beome a shoe designer Part 4. This was a great piece on what you should look for with the manufacture. You had some great advice for people looking into designing your own shoe. This is my first time on your web site. I like what you have going on.

  • Great post! I love seeing your shoe adventures.

  • Adam – Thank you sir!! I appreciate that!

    Alex B – unfortunately they are all in size UK8….

    ha, you are right…i just can’t bare to put a big, fat round toe on my blog…i should have though….

    Adrian D – that’s why I designed it, and it’s removable for those that don’t fancy it! I will have that size and will ship, but you are still more than welcome to come visit me in London!

    Justin – yup! one of my favorites…glad to hear that you like it!

    Michael.Roberson – Glad to hear that you have found the site and have been enjoying it. Thanks for commenting!

    Li Sashay – Thanks Li! I appreciate it! Thanks for the support

    -Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

  • Moi

    Hi Justin,

    Thank you for your time earlier today as it was nice to talk to someone who is even more passionate about shoes than me and I know for sure you will take good care of my shoes.

    I for one will be looking forward to your launch and will probably be the first to buy from your ready to wear collection.

    Bring it on!

  • Moi – no worries Duncan. Always happy to chat to my readers. Glad to hear that you are eagerly anticipating the launch of my line. I always appreciate the support!

    -Justin