COLORWAYS and MATERIALS: how do i get into this?

I’m a recent ID grad working at a product firm in NYC. I am interested in picking colorways and materials for sneakers…does anyone know how i can get into this?

I’m interested in mixing materials and innovation in the materials and color realm.

um please excuse the sarcasm but you just pick the colors and materials you want and call them out in some kind of line art for the shoes, or in a “Bill of Materials” or SRF (specs and references sheet).

There is no “database” for colors or materials. Most factories can reproduce any color from Pantones to copying existing colors on existing styles. AS for materials your best off finding examples of the ones you want out in the market (in clothing, or existing shoes for example) and send sample swatches to the factories as a reference.

A good hint to doing colors and materials is to have a theme that references the wants and desires of your customer, teh wearer or the retailer.

I hope this helps. Colorways are the most time consuming, yet intuitive, yet personalized and frustratring part of footwear and softgoods. I used to have a six to one colorway ratio. Meaning that I’d “color-up” six options to get one good colorway. So if I had a line requirement of three skus in one style, I’d color up 18, so I would have enough of a selection to choose from.

Kiana, are you asking how to get inot this full time?

If so, some companies have color designers as well as material designers. Usually they will have a background in graphics or ID. It is a pretty cool job. I find color to be one of the most critical aspects of footwear, it can either really bring the design out, or make it look like a dog.

thanks, yo. i wanted to know if there was the possibility of just doing graphics and colors for shoes…and how i could go about getting into it…

p.s. two good sneaker sites are :, and

I’m not sure about other companies, but here we do have color designers, graphic designers, and materials designers dedicated to footwear. I didn’t see any positions listed today, but usually there is something on

hey guys - just as an update to this post (from 2 yrs ago!), i will start as a color designer for puma very soon, and wanted to thank yo for the initial feedback to this post. :laughing: i’m crazy excited to be transitioning from the world of straight up product design to footwear color and materials…it’s been a long time coming!

btw, i’ve been reading posts and threads a lot - but not commenting very much. however, i’ll be jumping in shortly, participating in discussions and such - the core forums are really helpful and informative.


Kiana: perhaps you could answer your original question for the rest of us. Did you fine tune your portfolio towards materials and color selections? What is the key to landing that color/material designer position? I know that when i worked as an intern the first time around I spent alot of my time working on the color and material selection for various SMUs.

Congratulations Kiana.

I just hired a color designer for my group, and a great color designer makes all the difference in pushing a design over the top. I’ve worked with some great color designers who put together seasonal presentations on color theory, they can really help tie a collection together.

Have fun, and welcome to the industry.

i wouldn’t say that i fine tuned my portfolio to color and materials, but after this post i got a job in luggage/bag design in massachusetts and in this particular job i was able to focus on bag material and color selection in addition to product. i also had a lot of adobe illustrator linework, color development board work (which i did a lot because i enjoy it), and graphic design in addition to product.

i’m not sure if there is a key to it, but i would say that if u already have an interest in it to try and focus on color or material development in your current job - whatever it is - and kind of do extra work in that area even if it’s not in the realm of what u do. as with any thing you want to do i guess, seek out opportunity to do it even if it’s not required.

and of course, apply for jobs

_k :smiley:

thanks, yo!
i love both footwear and color, so i’m really excited.

Dope! Keep us updated on how the job goes. I’ve always appreciated the attention that Puma puts towards their color schemes and material selection.

Definite bookmarks, thanks!

congratulations! puma has been doing some really ill things with their footwear , i would imagine that you could have a lot of fun there!

Do you have your portfolio posted on Coroflot? I would love to see samples of your work and how you presented yourself to Puma.

not any more - i used to have one with work from school that i recently took down. i don’t have one with any of the work from my previous job - haven’t had the time. hopefully i will get some stuff up soon once i get into the swing of things…

Hello all,

To know that there are more C&M designers out there makes me happy!
I have 2yrs plus of C&M design experience and am currently looking for a new job opportunities. And i stumbled upon this forum which im suprised to discover it started 2 years ago!
Btw, congrats Kiana on your new C&M job at Puma!

If anyone knows of other C&M opportunities, please please please drop me a mail or msg!!!

; )

Has anyone attended or plans on attending the CMG Fall International Conference in Tampa from 10/12-10/16? I have found that the CMG website is a good resource for color design but have yet to attend one of their conferences…thanks.