Shoe Shopping

Can anyone recommend a great location (city, state, country) to shop for shoes? I’m going to avoid shopping malls because they usually have the same retailers across the country. This is for design inspiration.

I suggest shopping if you need to see latest trends- an maybe new construction ideas. but for design inspiration I wouldn’t look at other shoes. Try traveling to other places an looking at other things in the culture an your surroundings an be inspired by that- I think you will design will look an feel more original that way. an who knows what you may see that might inspire you later on…



why don’t you tyr looking in some fashion magazines. talk to users as they can provide great feetback.

I love going to Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. They have so much high-end stuff that you don’t usually see at the local mall. I don’t know if traveling is in your budget but if it is, that is an excellent source of inspiration. Just seeing what other people are doing and forming your own ideas about that. Or find anything that you are passionate about and there’s your source of inspiration. :smiley:

I think it depends who you are working for and whether you are a student or not - some companies require you to design completely original product, unique and innovative. Others do not. If I was to avoid ‘doing the shops’ it would be suicidal for my business. For all of my clients, market reports and knowledge of best sellers are absolutely vital. I don’t start my other research until I have researched the current marketplace.

I often get inspired by vintage shoes and will trawl all kinds of places to find them - an old dress or evening shoe can inspire a sneaker and vice versa. Also vintage textiles (look at Miu Miu’s last collection and the Nike shoe made of Harris Tweed) . Look at everything (including shoes), don’t just look at new, futuristic things, also remember to look back!

As for where to research I’d say the big cities are the best - New York and LA are definates also San Fransisco and Miami. Again, don’t forget to visit the junk and thrift and vintage stores. Look at what the people are wearing, not just in the shop windows.

I should have called it an inspration trip with a little bit of shoe focus.
Shoenista explains it well.
My company has a little of both and it depends on their position, sales and marketing vs. designers/engineers. Fashion vs. functional. They want something innovative and don’t encourage copying but if a shoe is purchased, it often becomes a goal. It’s like they fall in love with the purchased shoe and can’t separate from it. I think it’s because when sales and marketing see something different, want that exact style to take business away from their competitor. It’s an easy solution for them to find a cheaper way to make something or just improve on someone else design. For this reason, I stopped buying and started taking pictures.

But without shopping, I’ve found that innovative drawings never get prototyped here only because people are afraid to take the risk. They need to see that it can be done before investing in developing. We seem to wait untill someone else does it before we try it.

I believe this all has to do with understanding how creativity happens. I’ve heard from in upper management that I need to go out and shop the market in order to get new ideas. But I am often insulted by this comment because it really devalues what we do and we as designers are often faced with explaining the process to a “numbers oriented” controller.

I too read the fashion forcasts (wgsn) and look at foreign fashion mags. I’ve shopped at NYC, LA, Melrose, vintage clothing etc.
For inspiration, I like to read, go to the movies or go to the Auto shows.
Personally, I don’t feel like I need to go shopping for shoe ideas. I think copying only reinforces who the leaders are. But I’m also curious as to what others do for inspiration.

Maybe if there is any way to do it, get your drawings prototyped into 3D quick and dirty- it looks like your numbers people need to see a real object in front of them in order to eliminate the risk factor.

inspiration for me:

architecture- lines an negative positive shapes-

interior design- see color combinations- use of materials/ textures

automotive- more of machine machanics than what is seen

graphic design- layout an grid books-good color usage

some fashion design- clothing an apparel-treatments- fabrics-materials-color

music an also being active (walking around playing basketball) helps me clear my mind an come up with things- I have found that for me taking a diferent route home every other day also helps me an I see new things that maybe I hadn’t if I remained in my continueous daily patterns- ( easy for me to change route home- just take a dif. block home that day- easy to do in NYC )



I don’t think most factories would make samples like that unless they can be sure of orders - they hate time wasting. Unless you work for Nike or Prada or someone like that, you probably won’t have the luxury of designing with that much freedom.

But I don’t mind that - customers expect you to be able to design best sellers and there is no better buzz when you understand your target market and get that winner. To do that you have to get inside the head of the consumer and that means looking at the places they shop now and seeing what they are wearing now.

Emelda - you are describing it exactly the way it is and I don’t see it changing for now. Trade is tough and buyers are playing very safe - I think this is damaging as the consumer is bored.

Do a ‘deal’ with your boss /client - design the lions’ share of the range exactly as they want, do all the research exactly as they ask but get them to agree a small range, as part of the collection that is completely up to you. You never know, it might get booked by the buyers - but don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t - they may be ‘playing it safe’ too.

The best place i have been to buy shoes is Amsterdam in the never never lands. They have shoe shop after shoe shop on one street with millions of coloourways (maybe it was the mushrooms). good prices as well, got a pair of these mad pumas i saw in ingland priced £110 for 40 euros. Also there is much ‘inspiration’ to be ‘inhaled’. Good record shops too.

Just guessing:

New York

Amsterdam is good - as is Berlin . I went to Barcelona last month and was VERY disappointed. I expected more.

I will try making a 'deal" with the boss. In the past I’ve tried adding a couple of my own styles to a knockoff outsole/last and they get dropped from the line. The factory even like them and asked me why I dropped them. I had to tell them it was not up to me.

Once as a test, I knocked off the entire upper but put it on a different outsole and they absolutely loved it. I realized that was the extent of their creatiivity. I would get all kinds of compliments for that shoe and it felt so empty.

Has anyone been to Montreal Quebec?

for athletic footwear shopping the best is by far-

Hong Kong

(not necessarily in that order)

As well there are some good sneaker shops in Berlin, Toronto, LA, and elsewhere…not to mention the trade shows like Bread & Butter, MAGIC, etc… (dont both with WSA, it’s a huge waste of time).

It all depends on what you are looking for.

in my opinion, it all comes down to what and how you look for ideas. As someone else has mentioned, ideas and inspiration can come from anything- fashion, architecture, automotive design, consumer products, furniture, etc.

The way I usually do trend forecasting/inspiration trips is in a few different streams.

  1. looking at the market for commercial trends of things that are/will sell. This combines looking at the footwear market at retail mass market and higher end shops and extrapolating a year or so into the future (based on your devlp timelines) to see what general trend directions are happening (ie. retro, tennis, technical, etc.). the key is to see what is happening now and projecting what will still be around in a bit.

  2. looking at higher end and exclusive shops for those styles/colors that will maybe get into the mainstream. its a tough call, but you can partly judge by early adopter types and what seems to leek into some mainstream coverage (ie. mtv, videos, etc.). looking at leading edge into mass market always is good way to stay ahead and get the right product out at the right time. half of this is intuition though…

  3. looking at fashion, limited edition shoes, etc. for crazy ideas that could work in shoes or cross categories (like different materials, etc.). its more inspiration here than guaranteed success, but can help create some original products using a mash up mentality or taking something already popular in one area into another (for example the 6.2 Concept football boot i have now posted on my blog, first pullover that takes the current interest in high luxuray items and exotic skins (croc, snake, etc.) into a performance soccer shoe with croc emboss finish and classic brouging details.

  4. looking at competitors samples to help with R&D. Especially if you are a small brand, it pays to learn from the investment others have made in materials, technolgoies, processes. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, so take full advantage of what others have learned before you. this isnt copying, but learning and is especially useful when taking technology from one category to another. As an example a team handball shoe I just did for hummel now released (7.1) uses some technology learned from basketball shoes (lateral outrigger), running shoes (flex grooves and ventilation) and tennis shoes (support and fit).