Design and sell your own Shoes

I’m starting a new service where we will manufacture your designs and then you can sell your own shoes or we can put into our catalog and online, and we can sell the shoe for you. I’m just trying to figure out the pricing. I have costed the whole process out and i’m thinking $600 for your first sample and then $60 for every sample after that. What do people think about that price? We will also be offering a service where people can rate your shoe design before you go ahead and manufacture. if we sell and market your shoe we will give you a 10% commision on all sales.

Also would you need material swatch books?

I have manufacturing shoes and sporting goods for 7 years in china and have lived here for 10.

The reason I can offer this service is becuase we can use 1,000snds of sole designs that already have molds made; so their are no mold costs
I’m very excited about this, let me know what you think?

Is this for real.
And how many could you get produced and for what price.
the lowest amount possible is for how many pairs of shoes???

i’d be curious to know what kind of quality and fty you are considering. from my experience, it would sure be easy to something like this in a cheapo fty in jin jiang, xiamen, or elsewhere or fujian province, but you really get what you pay for.

as well, im sure there would be lots of limitations using existing lasts, local stock materials, no new tooling for details, etc?

also, how do you intend to do the development process? any review of pullovers, changing the pattern, same with colorway samples, etc.? very rarely i would expect a first pullover to turn out good, esp. with a lower uality fty, and a perhaps inexperienced designer who would go for this…

…hope im not too cynical, just trying to be realistic.

interesting idea given the recent trends towards mass-customization and DIY, but just remember, that you get what you pay for.


Hi rkuchinsky,

Thanks for your reply; I was hoping to work through some issues with you. I’m considering doing this project with a friend of mine who helped start a very famous sneaker companies’ business in China. We have some great factories lined up but they are hard to keep on board with low volume production so we are considering investing in our own factory with our own CAD designer and materials specialist in JingJiang.
I like your point of first pullover not being that great but that’s why we are going to set up a factory that is a craftsman sneaker factory.

The goal of this service is to make sneakers for designers so they can sell their own designs. Or so eventually we can offer a range of unique boutique designers shoes to the public. Or investment and distribution channels are in place I’m just try to re-affirm that the service is of value to designers and more importantly would they use it?

I need some yes or nos from everyone reading this or some other ideas that they would be into in order for me to help you get your shoes ideas to market.


I would think that if I designed a shoe, my designs would be unique and need new tooling for the outsole for instance, I wouldn’t want to use something predesigned, similar to using clip art for a brochure. But lets say you wanted to make a new tool for my new design because it’s good and worth it, does it then become one of your stock tools and other designers could use my design?
It seems like a good idea if it’s for boutique shops using generic soles for instance, but then having their own custom graphics on the uppers, kind of like how old school converse have a basic sole but your “design” changes are in color combos and materials for the upper. But if you were designing nike-esque shoes, all parts would be unique, not sure how the service could accomodate that.

as said, i think the concept of what you propose is good, but logistically and business-wise i think there are problems.

factories make money from mass production, and set up to take advantage of large volumes. a happy factory is one that can run one or more production lines with the same style for weeks, or months. one line usually does 5-6000 pairs per day per line.

the difficulty to consider in production is all the work involved in setting up for production that needs to be amotized over large volumes. workers need to learn the process, materials need to be organized and cut, thread colors need to be changed, actual machines on the line need to be set and organized, etc… i would be really surprised to find a fty willing to do only 2-3 pairs of 1 design. of course there are sample factories, but they usually are subsidized by the prospect of mass production.

design-wise you may be better off sticking to one design that can be used as a template. but still, i dont know who would really enjoy “designing” some open pattern, on an open last and outsole, just to change colors/materials, esp. with things like nikeID around where you can get a top quality design and shoe customized to your liking.

business wise, i also dont think you’d have too many takers. only a few i would think like hotmix who are students, and probably dont have the $$ for set up, and a little of the skill required. most professional footwear designers already have the resources to do their own stuff through their job and own resources.

still, the idea could be somehow worked into something usefull, maybe along the lines of what you are suggestining in a boutique store using the skills of available designers to meet public need.

shoes however require a lot more skill to design than slapping a logo on something, investment wise are more difficult, and stock in sizes and fit tricky too… its one of the reasons there are only maybe 20 shoe brands and probably 1000’s of t-shirt brands…

check these links-

customizable tshirts, mugs, bags, etc.

DIY publishing

DIY t-shirt design

best of luck,


yeah i already develop footwear in this way for mass market…

id do it. i dont really care about the business side of it or to be honest i could care less about the quality. (within reason)
its a design project by the sounds of it from our standpoint.
count me in.
i know other design types who would also be interested.
heres an email address for you:
i love this stuff, its fun.


No the outsole would be yours exclusively!

you could easily do a cut and buff midsole with sheetstock outsole… ala nike waffle racer or something, and still get a unique shoe with a cleverly designed upper… a lot of shoes in this category like medium, royal elastics, lacoste, are all about a great upper pattern that takes color and materials…

I would be in on something like what you’re proposing too… but I am no seasoned footwear designer by any means.

It would probably depend alot on what kind of creative freedom could be had with your service - as the earlier poster mentioned; just using “clip-arty” shoe panels probably wouldn’t be enough for me to spend the time on it

the other big factor would be cost; what did you have in mind as a ballpark for, say, a run of 5 - 10 pairs of a custom design. you know, highest and lowest possible costs

I’ll PM my info to you

it would be great to see some samples of the type of shoes the fty has/can produced. you can tell a lot about a fty from the type of stuff they normally do. Any branded products, or mostly just knock-off stuff?..

also, i’d suggest maybe running some new designs from sketch to sample to show people what they can expect. how good are the patternmakers, materials, etc…

also, curious about sizing. would you do only sample size us9, or grade patterns up/down as needed?


che? i think i have an idea, but could someone explain?

was not too long ago another person was tendering a similar offer…

for a certain audience it may be a good thing, maybe not designers but as skinny said boutique/specailty shops where smaller runs and classic/retro styling is popular

Stefans you can email me at

cut and buff is a rubber outsole that is made in a sheet with a tread pattern, then die cut out like a cookie cutter, and can be then attached to a sheet EVA midsole which is also cut. once the two are cemented together, they are buffed on the edges to make the edges flush. you can also do the same with no midsole

as yo mentioned, think old school running shoes, like this,

or this,


ahh, ok that clears it up! thanks r

Hear are some examples of some outsoles that are possible, just a small sample available in the Skate cat.

The Price range I’m considering is $500-$600 for the first sample and $45-$65/ up to 100pr, then looking at price breaks. I’ll be down at the factories all week again, so I’ll map out and verify a process. I’m still concerned about the materials the designers will use. Are material swatches needed? or will people just mock up some fabrics in photoshop or 3D?

I would be interseted in this service if you could outline the potential of the following:

  1. Can we supply a last that remains confidential and will not be reproduced
  2. Can you cut bespoke patterns for individual sized lasts yet maintain an overall visual look
  3. Can you laser cut the patterns or are they cut by hand
  4. Do you have examples of the quality of stitching
  5. Is the price point of 600 (USD I presume) for the very first order or each style
  6. Can you open new moulds
  7. What is the lead time from reciving last to closing upper and shipping
  8. Would you sell just made uppers
  9. How specific could I be on material selection? (counter material, insole board, cements etc)

Thanks for your help

$45-65 per pair seems expensive. If a designer pays $45, that means he will try to sell it for $80, and then the store will sell it for $160???

Stefans71: thanks for the posts; As a skate shoe designer for a few years way back when its great to see my past work again. I often wondered what happened to some of those molds, headaches notwithstanding. Now I know. where old skate outsoles go to die-er- to get “Ressurected”

Aside form the duplicates you guys are using six of my designs; or better put: six variants of designs I did minus the logos. Funniest part is how they were done at different factories and mold shops and migrated to one.
Now will you be using the same lasts too?

Please understand that I AM NOT pissed. Not at all. I am annoyed, but there is nothing I can do really…I actually think its funny.

I have no problem with the resurrection of the designs. Its gonna happen, always has and always will as long as factories and mold shops have the need to make an easy profit.

compare this image (tooling opened on this midsole/outsole in 1999) to xt 2267:


i guess that the above answers question one for me.