what exactly does a footwear (line) developper do?

I think you are probably referring to a Product Line Manager position.

it does vary company to company, but generally-

This position, is normally responsible for building the line, writing design briefs, and acting as a bridge between creative design, marketing and sales. It may involve analyzing different aspects of the business, managing SKUs and such. normally a PLM comes from a business or marketing background, but could have some creative experience.

Another position which you may be speaking about is a Footwear Developer role.

This position usually takes over during or after the design phase and “develops” the product, working out technical issues, manufacturing issues, pattern, material and specifications. Normally this person comes from a creative or technical background.

Of course, different companies have different roles and the level and experience of each position can vary a lot. As well, in smaller companies, it is not uncommon for several roles to be combined. For example, a designer may also do the development, or a Sr. Designer may do the Product Line Management.

Best thing, if you and doubt about a specific job, is to read the job description, and if possible as the HR person or company to better define the position and responsibilities.

hope this helps,


my confusion came specifically from what you pointed out.

it is not uncommon for several roles to be combined

but the job titles still being quite specific…

on a bit of a segway how would you define your role at hummel? is it solely creative or is there a bit of cross-staffing involved?

Put it this way, its common that a designer may do development but still be called a designer, but not that common that a developer would do design.

Pretty much, the basic roles in a footwear company could be-

Sr.Designer and/or Designer

a little bit more expanded could be

Sr. Designer / Designer


Product Line Manager
Sr. Designer / Designer

a bigger company may have

Design Director
Sr. Designer / Designer

and different position for colors, materials, product graphics, costing, advanced technical design, etc.

etc. each company is pretty much different. I know it makes things confusing. I have in my own experience been confused with posting and company heirarchies before!

At hummel, its even more complicated (or simple, depending how you look at things). When our department started 2.5 years it was myself as Footwear Department Manager with one Designer and one Developer.

Recently, we have had some reshuffling and people in and out, but at one point, it was actually only me as Department Manager doing the jobs of designer, developer, product line manager, and more!

Currently, I am active in all aspects of the business. Everything from overall sales budgets and allocation of resources to creative direction and strategic planning, to design briefs, design, technical design, development, sourcing, costing, purchasing, production, marketing, graphics, packaging and probably lots of other stuff that doesnt come to mind at the moment.

On one hand, working at a small company wearing so many different hats can be difficult, but its also great to get a wide variety of experience and knowledge. I dont think I would be where I am today if I did not have the opportunity to start with another small company before hummel and immediately get the chance to go to asia, do development and be involved in the marketing aspects and graphics.

Either way, I believe that as much as you be involved and have experience with, the better, no matter the title.

At least that’s my take on it. I would like to hear from others in different organziations to see how they look at things.


It would be my experience that Richard is right again. Designers “normally” draw it up, developers “normally” work to make it happen, and PLM’s “normally” call for products to be promoted. Heavy emphasis on the quote’s! There can definitely be a significant overlap of duties- and this doesn’t include personnel traits either.

I would hope that being a part of of the whole cycle would be better… but am on the fence about that.

Personally, I have been with a small- but growing company for coming close to 2 years. We work within the footwear industry, but don’t design the actually shoes. Our product is incorporated into the shoe. This dabbling in various parts of the design and production cycle is tough. I have personally constructed and re-engineered over 100 different brands of footwear, in various skate, snow, athletic and casual shoe styles. I have done the S. Central China tour of 15 factories in 8 days. But I feel bewildered by what could be next. I am a ambitious person, but loyal. I’m not in a designer mecha like SoCal, Portland or such (and have a family)- so I wonder whats next. I have been a part of more footwear designs, development issues than most people with twice my experience… not to mention what I have learned about the design and manufacturability of small plastic parts… but I wonder whats next.

In short, all those job postings and titles look great- but after a couple years of doing A LOT of different stuff… I’m not sure how qualified I am to do any single. Nor does the add really ever say how willing the company is to “develope” more-or-less incoming talent.

Rich- Do you need a not-so-little mini you??? :smiley:

Great topic.

My take on this is very similar to what Richard had said. We as designers are often asked to be that developer or that PLM. I believe the understanding of the design process as a whole gives us a bit of an advantage over a let’s say a developer being ask to do design work. Some companies are very structured and some others are not.

i would look at it like this:
a developer develops existing product
a designer designs new product.

for example:
each season you’ll have your best sellers, and often you need to update those with new materials, colours, logo treatment. ie: you’ve got to develop and expand a successful theme for the next season.
& each season you’re also going to need completely new product that has to be designed from scratch.

Hi all.

a developer develops existing product
a designer designs new product.

Under my opinion,developer not develops an existing product,when the developper get the information from design, product is not exist yet. Is just an idea in paper or computer format or whatever.

Design is information.

I’d agree.

A developer is normally the person responsible for the technical development of a new style.

New colors, etc. of an old style is usually the job of a Jr. Designer, colorist, or SMU specialist.