10 Footwear Specific Poll

I would like to know from fellow designers in footwear How Many:

  1. New prototypes are submitted per season? How many styles make the line?
  2. New outsole concepts drawn that go to 3D models and get adopted.
  3. Seasons per year and lead time. What season are you currently on?
  4. Times you go to China/year.
    Also:
  5. What category of footwear do you develop? (Athletic, casual, Women’s, Kids)
  6. Are you given a product brief? Or how if any, is direction given?
  7. Who decides what’s in the line? (Designers, Marketing, Sales?)
  8. Do you work alone or in a team?
  9. How long have you been designing footwear?
  10. Describe something you hate about the job.

(newbie-2.5 yrs in the pros)

but what I have seen- an done:

  1. amount of prototypes-hmm I work on maybe 15+ shoes a season- an figure each goes through about 2-3 phases of prototyping. If new construction-opened up new soles maybe more. for us we have three basic lines - basic, dress, an directional. This is with fashion shoes ( kenneth Cole ). in the line you will then break it up into lace-ups, slip ons- sandals-dress-sandals athletic- an each of these will be broken into the three catigories ( basic ,dress, an directional-directional being the most fashion forward- an trendy while basic is the all black or brown shoe- an this is catually the least fun to design an sells the most pairs believe it or not. how many makes the line- hard to say exactly- ( mainly we will change materials on existing styles if selling well in stores an then play off trends to see what is to be designed. an this is told to us by our line builder/ director).

  2. 3d molds? this is not done here. we will design the sole- maybe just 2-4 new soles a season- for some new constructions. then these designs are sent over seas- they are sent over most times just jpegs from illustrator/ sometimes pen sketches-cleaned up. an then the designer goes over seas- an by the time that they are over there the design is blue printed an there is an eva mold sample or wooden mold. from here they revise an then put sample uppers on the eva mold an bring back samples to office to have 1st prototype meetings- then revise choose materials an then back to china- the sole might be dropped later on- but this is why they go through prototyping because its so expensive to open up new molds-but soles are my fav. to design- also if dropped might be used by another label under the brand- the designs usually if wel done get placed an used in some way.

  3. 4 seasons a yr I believe but its ran on a certain periods- not too clear on this. I am currently working on fall 2007/

  4. I have just been once- hard to go when in school- but usually for designers here 5-6 times a yr. an they are out there for 2 weeks on the norm. but also they travel to Italy for some work.

  5. I work mainly on men’s dress/ casual athletics. I used to do men’s hiking/ trail an mens construction/ working shoes

  6. direction is given through the creative director an the line builders.

  7. sales reps- line builder-creative director- vp-of product development- an Kenneth himself. I haven’t had much say in what is in or out- but do get to chip in to talk about my designs- an give suggestions. ( I also have to earn my dues- an listen first- listening is very important- but also being able to communicate your ideas- an that means more thab just through whats on paper- but verbally too)

  8. work on designs itself mainly solo- have crit overviews to go over thinsg but mainly the line builder director over looks what you are doing to see if this is what is the right direction- if not then back to the sketching table

  9. been at it a lil more than 2.5 yrs.

  10. I dont like how things can become political-I saw more of this when I worked for a shoe contracting company- than now I am in house- but that an also wish trends was less of an issue at times-( I can be selfish at times ab design what I want- an that is not what they want- an can be a struggle) also another thing that is kind of hard is the time span- for how many shoes we have to produce its not really enough time to get really detailed an fully design every lil detail-


    but overal footwear is an amazing industry an everyday- just remind myself of how good it is to have a job that I get to do an get paid an I would do anyways- an that is design shoes-

hope this helps- I am learning more everyday- still new to this too

uno

Mm

please find my answers below.

to put it all in context (some details are also explained in the answers) a brief into of my job/position-

Product Manager, Footwear Dept. hummel International
Responsible for an international collection of performance sports and lifestyle footwear.

  1. New prototypes are submitted per season? How many styles make the line?
    at hummel we have several different lines- including football (soccer), indoor, and lifestyle. each collection is a little bit different in terms of the number of total SKUs, new developments vs. carryovers and seasonality (lifestyle is 2x /year, indoor and football are 1x). On average however, each new collection usually involves around 8 new styles for prototyping. usually almost all of these new styles “make the line”, but in terms of colorways and total SKUs (not styles) its around 80%. Decisions for he number of new designs, carryover, etc. are based on sales, trend info, and my own gut feeling. As well, of course new designs and potential for new products are carefully planned to work with existing/new markets and ROI on sales budgets for upcoming seasons and sales goals.

  2. New outsole concepts drawn that go to 3D models and get adopted.
    We dont waste our time on designing outsoles if they are not going to be made (aside from just sketches for fun, which dont count). We usually do 1-2 new outsoles per collection per season.

  3. Seasons per year and lead time. What season are you currently on?
    see above for a partial answer. leadtime is usually approx. 18mo from first planning to market. some collections like lifestyle may be closer to market to catch trends quicker. new colors on carryover styles dont require too much time- approx. 3 month from spec to photo sample, but can even be done quicker if things work out well. We’re now starting football 2007 (SS), in the middle of indoor 2006 (FW) and also lifestyle FW 2006.

  4. Times you go to China/year.
    too many. actually most my visits are to taiwan for development, but i also do additional visits to ftys in china and vietnam. usually once a month im in asia, if not more often.

Also:
5. What category of footwear do you develop? (Athletic, casual, Women’s, Kids)
performance sport footwear (soccer, indoor- handball), and also lifestyle sportstyle.

  1. Are you given a product brief? Or how if any, is direction given?
    as Product Manager, I write all the briefs. The direction and influence for a line and product come from lots of sources, but ultimately it is up to me to focus all the ideas, trends, sales #s, etc. into something usable for the designers.

  2. Who decides what’s in the line? (Designers, Marketing, Sales?)
    The final cut on the line right before photo sample is done mostly by myself as Product Manager, with some additional input by sales.

  3. Do you work alone or in a team?
    A team, of course. not only directly with my colleagues in the footwear dept. (1 junior designer, and a development mgr), but also very closely with other depts. Marketing, sales, team promotion (working with teams/athletes we sponsor). In fact, in addition to the travel to asia for development i probably do about 8 trips a year worlwide to meet with other staff in sales, customers, etc. that all add to the influence of the line/designs.

  4. How long have you been designing footwear?
    4 years.

  5. Describe something you hate about the job.
    Only the amount of travel sometimes. It certainly isnt as “cool” as people thinks to be stuck on a plane for 12 hours, have 4 hour layovers and have to come home after being away for 2 weeks to an empty fridge…

for ltos mroe detail and examples of the design process (design briefs, sketches, prototypes) you can also check out my blog, first pullover

cheers,

R

are you in the footwear design industry? it would be great to hear your own answers to you questions!

R

wow, not much of a response eh? i feel kinda silly now for taking the time to respond when not even the person posting the poll cares to answer their own questions!

R

Question- wouldn’t this information be confidential?

i would assume not as this IS a public forum. still i dont see anything in the potential answers that would be of a confidential nature…

Hi I’m new here, but not to shoes :smiley: I’m a freelancer

  1. New prototypes are submitted per season? How many styles make the line?
    Probably wrote about 200 specs last season.
    Depends on the client - anything from 100% to 0% (some clients hire me for a concept - not all concepts make it to sample stage)
  2. New outsole concepts drawn that go to 3D models and get adopted.Thats a very athletic -centric question. Did about 4 last season.
  3. Seasons per year and lead time. What season are you currently on?
    FW07, but SS07 for an Aussie client.
  4. Times you go to China/year. 5 so far, probably be 8 by the end of the year.
    Also:
  5. What category of footwear do you develop? (Athletic, casual, Women’s, Kids) Anything from cheap as chips chainstore tat, to hand made one offs. All categories.
  6. Are you given a product brief? Or how if any, is direction given?Depends - some clients expect me to do everything from Range plan down, some have full brief (but not many!)
  7. Who decides what’s in the line? (Designers, Marketing, Sales?) Marketing and sales. As a freelancer you don’t have much say.
  8. Do you work alone or in a team? With my partner who is a graphic designer.
  9. How long have you been designing footwear? 14 years
  10. Describe something you hate about the job. The ‘transit’ bit of the travelling - schlepping my bag around the world is not my idea of fun. Second only to that is booking my travel. Drives me insane.

Thanks for your reply!
Been out of the office, and my connection at home had to be fixed.
I’ve been dying to see if anyone replied.

Here are mine.

  1. New prototypes are submitted per season? How many styles make the line?
    14 new men’s casual styles, 6 made the line. 12 sandal protos, 5 made the line. We did 3 revisions on each pattern.

  2. New outsole concepts drawn that go to 3D models and get adopted.
    Usuallly 3 outsole concepts, made 3 models, chose 1. Proto mold made and revised 3 times.

  3. Seasons per year and lead time. What season are you currently on?
    2 seasons Spring/summer and Fall/Winter. Starting Fall 06.

  4. Times you go to China/year. 1 if budget allows…
    Also:

  5. What category of footwear do you develop? (Athletic, casual, Women’s, Kids)
    Mostly Casual, Men’s and Women’s, some performance hikers, and sandals.

  6. Are you given a product brief? Or how if any, is direction given?
    Management (sales) started a more formal breif but it’s very vague. It’s very “me too” and price focused.

  7. Who decides what’s in the line? (Designers, Marketing, Sales?)
    Regional sales manager. Often look at the line in terms of what they can sell. Very conservative choices.

  8. Do you work alone or in a team?
    Alone during designing, 4-5 people after 1st protos who want to change the patterns and materials.

  9. How long have you been designing footwear?
    6 yrs started as an intern. Would like to improve our design process.

  10. Describe something you hate about the job. When there are too many opinions, no direction, and the “safe” shoes a chosen. Design, not utilized as innovators.

Thanks for your reply!
Been out of the office, and my connection at home had to be fixed.
I’ve been dying to see if anyone replied.

Here are mine.

  1. New prototypes are submitted per season? How many styles make the line?
    14 new men’s casual styles, 6 made the line. 12 sandal protos, 5 made the line. We did 3 revisions on each pattern.

  2. New outsole concepts drawn that go to 3D models and get adopted.
    Usuallly 3 outsole concepts, made 3 models, chose 1. Proto mold made and revised 3 times.

  3. Seasons per year and lead time. What season are you currently on?
    2 seasons Spring/summer and Fall/Winter. Starting Fall 06.

  4. Times you go to China/year. 1 or 2/year if budget allows…
    Also:

  5. What category of footwear do you develop? (Athletic, casual, Women’s, Kids)
    Mostly Casual, Men’s and Women’s, some performance hikers, and sandals.

  6. Are you given a product brief? Or how if any, is direction given?
    Management (sales) started a more formal breif but it’s very vague. It’s very “me too” and price focused.

  7. Who decides what’s in the line? (Designers, Marketing, Sales?)
    Regional sales manager. Often look at the line in terms of what they can sell. Very conservative choices.

  8. Do you work alone or in a team?
    Alone during designing, 4-5 people after 1st protos who want to change the patterns and materials.

  9. How long have you been designing footwear?
    6 yrs started as an intern. Would like to improve our design process.

  10. Describe something you hate about the job.
    When there are too many opinions, no direction, and the “safe” shoes a chosen. Design, not utilized as innovators.


    Thanks to all who participated.

I am just searching for information on how to improve the design process, communicate better, identify problems, and decifer what types of thing are normal/routine and that which is unacceptable.

I’ve come to a turning point in my career, and it’s time for me to decide if I should stay and step up or accept the fact that things may never change and look elsewhere.