Making a Shoe Prototype

First of all – I am fine. I work hard, basically the same things I have posted so many times: making shoes, keeping courses. The usual. The actual course is a shoe prototype making – or as they call it in fancy design colleges: 3D model making.. Anyway: let me share a few thoughts about this process.

Phase one: design work

Most of the designers has knowledge about the whole process, or at least the part which is interesting for them: the upper making. Why it is so important? because sketching is already a part of the whole process – a few bad lines can course serious costs or feasibility problems. If you are only a “sketch artist” – do something else.

Phase two: stepping up to 3D

We need to choose the last (don’t forget the old saying: “the last comes first”!), then we try to imagine the footwear on it, the the usual things: paper model (pretty useful in case if we make a sandal), first tries with leather.

Phase three: facing technical problems

No doubt – you will have some, especially if you work with designers, or you are one of them. Some can be solved, some not. At this phase you might have to go back to phase two and re-construct the whole upper, or find out something revolutionary new in terms of lasting, sole attachment, etc..

Phase four: drop or compromise

We might drop more than we make, but consider it like this: if you never have to give up any design you make – you are a genius or you don’t even try to make anything new. Compromises are important and they have to be made. Why? Because we have limitations in budget, materials, technology, accessories… etc. You can be the most picky designer – you still have to make compromises.

Phase five: make it!

And this is something which take plenty turns in create the footwear you dreamed about. No good recipe – or at least I don’t have any. Try, try, try.

Phase six: evaluate… and be strict with yourself

Do I need to explain? Who should be honest with you if not yourself? If you are not – the market will be, I promise – your friends will give you only compliments (that is why we call them friends, right?), but nobody will buy the shoes for being kind – finally your bank account will be honest with you.

And finally let me share a few thoughts about a prototype: do not wait too much! Yes, bespoke makers make every, individual piece beautiful, but a prototype is a bit different – since the bespoke work is almost the same except a few change on the upper, prototypes are really different, so maybe the first few attempt won’t be that perfect – but this is not the reason to make them, but check the pattern, the technology-design feasibility, etc. If you want a wearable model – you might have to wait until the mass production starts.

(well, not necessarily true – sometimes, we shoemakers are asked to make wearable prototypes so we do… just there will be a slight difference at the bill).

4 thoughts on “Making a Shoe Prototype

  1. i am looking for a company to build a prototype
    i am the ceo of a cheer company and i am looking to expand into the sneaker business
    what kind of price range and time does something like this take

    looking to launch next march 2012

    Glenn Kingsbury/Cheer Tech

    1. Hi I’m a Fashion and Industrial Designer specialized in footwear, and a prototype can take from 2 to 5 weeks, and cost from 150 to 500 all depends upon the Difficulty and Materials

  2. I am also starting a shoe business and need prototypes mades. does anyone know where I can get them made?

  3. I need a little help…anybody out there know where I can find model paper. It’s the green paper used by pattern makers to create a prototype. I am a pattern maker with 25 years exp. I am retired and trying to start a small shoe business in my home. I can make my own models but I just can’t find the paper.
    Dave Young
    Northwoods Mocc Shop
    11 Laurel St
    Whitefield, NH 03598

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