shoe manfacturing

hello all,

im looking to manufacture shoes. not sure how to go about it though, has anyone tried doing that? is there any manufactures in the US that could help. i rather deal with companies in the US than overseas ( for now at least ). as of now, i would like to manufacture a small run of shoes see how they sell. any info would be great. i am fairly new to manufacturing. thanks n adv

Are you a designer? I know a good designer that has experience taking footwear all the way to manufacturing, but I don’t know if he would be interested in handling only the manufacturing.

you might want to also post your question in the footwear forum where you will get more of a response.

what kind of shoes are you looking to make? athletic footwear? dress? kids?

what are you looking to do? find a supplier to make samples? production? what kind of quanitity?

almost no manufacturing takes place anymore in the US. especially if you are looking for a small run or samples for future production, you will likely have much better luck hooking up with a trading company (most are from Taiwan), or direct with a footwear factory in asia. there are of course also options you can consider in europe (spain, portugal, italy), or some in south america.

do you already have the design and capital for investment? how serious is the project?

if you want some more information about the footwear manufacturing process you can check out my blog, First Pullover. There is an overview of production and development so you can get and understanding of the process.


yes i am a designer. the shoes have a similar look to vans/ chuck tailor. i think they call them “boat shoes”. the project is still in the begining stages, so the idea is there in my head, but not on paper yet. im doing lots of research on this, and im looking to make a small # of shoes to test the market. does anyone know if shoe companies such as vans would be willing to make me the shoes with my designs? i am new to this, and i want to learn about the industry.


i would like to build a prototype them find a manufacture that can make me a small run. not sure how i would market these yet thats why i want a small run. i did print out the blog to so i can read it. lots of helpful info. you mentioned to hook up with a trading company in taiwan. do you know of any that you would recommend? or any companies in europe?

this project is very serious. of course untill i see #'s and profits. wish me luck.

any more info, would be great.


I wouldnt really call Vans/Chucks boat shoes (boat shoes typically have a cemented rubber outsole with a siped tread pattern), but have an idea what you are speaking about (canvas/vulcanized footwear).

Most factories or trading companies would only be interested in making a small run of samples if production in mass quanities is likely. The sample process is very costly for the factory (pattern development, handmade samples, materials, cutting dies, etc.) and production is where a factory makes money. Samples are just a step in the process before mass production.

Before going much further with designs/development, I suggest that you make a business plan and figure out the marketing/distribution. In my experience, the design/development is the “easy” part but the distribution/marketing is more difficult.

To start a new footwear brand, you will need lots of money for investment in product, but also in marketing. It also helps to have some connections for distribution or at least know someone in the business in sales/marketing to help make it happen.

Hope this helps.

If you do proceed to design/development, feel free to contact me by PM or email.



how would you suggest i go bout making a business plan? i have an idea as a graphic element that i would like to see on (canvas) shoes. what would you think would be the best way to go about achieving my goal. a great site to check out is

also, how would i go about making connections with distribution?

thanks n adv


A business plan based on putting graphics on a basic canvas type sneaker would be difficult. there is so much in the market already.

To start, i would maybe suggest to get some plain vans or other shoes and maybe customize them yourself with paint/markers. Or do a rendering in illustrator/photoshop of your concept, and see if you can get any interest.

On the whole, especially for a simple shoe like this that is normally made is large volumes, you may have a tough time.

Another idea, if your artwork is really original and unique, might be to see if you can find a small footwear brand that does similar work or similar types of shoes and see if they would be interested in using your graphics.

Unfortunately, its not that easy to start a new footwear brand or get the required distribution when there are so many footwear brands out there.


sorry, for the late reply,

actually, i was not thinking bout starting my own shoe company. i would like to start a shoe “boutique”. i dont want the shoes to be sold all over the place. they will be limited runs on certain designs. im thinking bout selling them only locally. i know i know, some might say where is the $$ in that. well, i dont the $$ to start a big company yet. beside i would like to expirment with this idea.

a good place to check out what im talking about is

If your only intention is colourisation and graphic design, then find a company in asia (or being wholesale distributed where ever you are) that produces a suitable style of shoe.

Graphic, rebadge and resell. Thats how many small run boutiques operate.

how would i go about starting that? where would i find such companies in asia?

thanks for all the help.

you can start by checking here-

there are literally hundreds of thousands of factories in asia.

i’d suggest though you’d do better finding something local in the US, as it sounds like you only are looking for very tiny volumes.

better yet, go out, by a bunch of cheap shoes, and paint them up.

doenst sound like you are ready yet for production or wholesale purchasing.


thanks again for your help,

i am NOT ready yet, the idea is still fresh, and i am working it out. i like to ask a lot of Q’s, i guess its part of the research :wink: anyhow, know of a place where i can get blank chuck tailors?

Why not try and hook up with these guys? You could have that kind hearted, eco-friendly, anti-sweatshop aspect along with the custom shoe stuff…


have you done biz with them? how much do you know about this company?


I know absolutely nothing about them. I simply Googled “Canvas Shoes” and they showed up. To me, they seemed like a company you may want to contact regarding customizing their shoes.

Ahh the internet…