Footwear Prototype Resources: Recommendations?

Hey everyone,

I would be grateful to know of any recommendations anyone has for footwear prototyping resources. Looking for an experienced individual or business.


Thanks in advance,

I realize I posted this Friday afternoon (not the best time for seeking advice). Hope you guys don’t mind me bringing it to the front again…


Can you be more specific what you are looking for. What type of footwear?
Are you looking for a complete wearable shoe or a rapid prototype (non functional) of a sole unit.

The concepts cover a variety of industries: skate, work, hike

The prototype(s) need to be appearance models - so somewhere in between a wearable shoe and a rapid prototype. I’m more specifically looking for sewing & assembly resources familiar with footwear construction and confident in using actual materials. If there are any prototype molders focused in footwear, that would be interesting to learn of as well.


The usual way to get footwear prototypes (especially in the categories you describe) is via a factory sample room.

But you can only do this if you can convince the factory that you will place production. They will not entertain anyone who is just wanting ‘look see’ samples. If they are not convinced by you (especially if you are not ‘trade’) then they will say no. If you make samples and don’t place production then there is no way they will do anything for you again. It’s a great way to lose a great factory IMO.

So the only way round this is to find a shoemaker, get him to make the uppers for you and then look for a model maker who can make you a model of the outsole. You can then ‘sit’ the lasted upper (called a pullover) on the model outsole for an idea of how the finished model will look. I have done this many times when working for brands over the years.

We have model makers in the UK who do outsole models, perhaps someone in the USA might know someone who can do outsole models. They need to be able to understand footwear, because they will need to know how to work with a last (making allowances for the lasted uppers etc). The British guys that I have used have all had long working relationships with famous footwear brands.