Shoes for and by Women?

I can’t help but notice the bias for athletic mens shoes on this forum.

Isn’t the world filled with more woman’s shoes?
Aren’t there more design opportunities there?

I think I would definitely do womans shoes if I was in the footwear biz.
Where’s the bias from?

thanks for asking.

i have no idea since i am not involved in footwear design, but i am damn sick of pink pastel shiny sneakers/ girly/twee stuff or general lack of stuff when it comes to normal shoes. I am not enough of a woman to rock high heels everyday and am not twee enough to get giddy over rainbow/hearts/unicorns plastered flats.

I really love my Keeps, though. Love their message, too.

I know lots of women in the athletic footwear industry but most shy away from these forum boards full stop. It is maybe more to do with the perceived image of internet forums! (sleazy men in rain coats- sorry if I speak for myself)

What about the MRI’s for and by women?

The products designed in my studio are definitely for-and-by women–our primary demographic is a 47 year old nurse.

But clothing (footwear included) tends to be more gender-specific than products.

I’m just curious if the demographic in this forum is in line with the market demographic. Gender and style included.
If not, why? Is it an Industrial Designer vs. Fashion Designer thing?

OK, it wasn’t a fair poke.

i have no idea since i am not involved in footwear design, but i am damn sick of pink pastel shiny sneakers/ girly/twee stuff or general lack of stuff when it comes to normal shoes. I am not enough of a woman to rock high heels everyday and am not twee enough to get giddy over rainbow/hearts/unicorns plastered flats.

Well said! I have grown fed up with Women Specific Design that finds itself dawning pink, light blue, or any horrifying pastel color in the book for the color scheme just so it can be deemed “women’s.” Especially in footwear! Being a woman with size 12 feet I have never bought many women’s shoes that are not athletic. However, in recent years I have found myself completely sickened by the “pretty” pastel colorways of many athletic shoes…

Ok that is my soapbox… If I want to buy shoes with an orange accent, i want it to be ORANGE, not pastel orange. Maybe that is just me and the rest of the women out there want to buy pretty pink running shoes, or baby blue soccer cleats.

All in all, my personal opinion: Women’s athletic shoes have far less visual passion in them then the Men’s do.

I design womens dress shoes but you’re right. I never see sketches posted up of womens’ athletic shoes…only mens. What’s up with that!!!

I’d have thought it’s because this forum is more popular with male industrial designers who want to work for Nike. :wink:

Am I right in thinking that the footwear forum only came about because of demand from IDers who want to get into athletic footwear design?

There are forums such as The Fashion Spot which lean far more towards true fashion, even though Coroflot has fashion design protfolios, theres no garment design forum here so what does that tell you?

agreed that these core forums are mostly focused on athletic footwear design. in my experience, on average, there are more male designers than femaie. dunno why…maybe has to do with the higher proportion historically of male vs. female in ID type programs from which a lot of athletic footwear designers come.

as for womens shoes with pink or pastels, i cry “market demand”. in a pervious job doing athletic and lifestyle footwear focused a lot of the north american (mostly US) market, this was indeed the case, and looking around at retail, may still be. I think for the most part however, its what sells in the market, not the fault of male designers that pick “pink for girls”.

In europe and other markets, these palettes of pink and pastels are not nearly as common. While a designer/colorist does pick colors, ultimately its up to the consumer to buy the product, and buyers respond to that to make more of the same. simplfied of course.

IMO, I actually always have a lot more fun doing women’s colorway for all types of athletic /lifestyle shoes. there is generally i find a lot more opportunity for fun colors, combos, etc. that may actually sell, than men’s that tend to keep pretty conservative in whites, blacks, navys with pops of blue, red, yellow or silver.


I’d have to agree that the womens colorways are definitely more interesting. Whenever I window shop I actuallly get mad that the womens athletic shoes have much better colors than the mens (some of them). You get to be a little more free designing women’s fashions.

My first couple of years all I did was women’s lifestyle athletic… we never did a pink shoe. Most of that stuff has been posted in here, and it is of course on my site under footwear. Personally, I loved doing women’s stuff, got to travel around Europe, more opportunities for simple, crafted designs, vs aggressive techy themes. I like doing both, but it is hard to keep a balance. I got to do some women’s product in Jordan, and am doing some again now.

c77 is an industrial design based website.

but… I would throw the question out to the female designers on and off the boards… why don’t more female designers post their work? It would be welcome. Membership is open, and no one is preventing anyone from posting. I’d love to see more. This is a “soft goods” section, so it is not limited to footwear. I’ve posted my bags on here, and again, more of this would be welcome… we aren’t in the practice of requiring people to post their work in order to join… yet…

I did an internship last summer at Dollhouse footwear, and created my vision of shoes for women, by a woman… Sadly, they never made it to production, though.

Those are awesome liz! Really love the first one. Cool toe down and I like the midfoot strap in the pop of patent. I’d love to see a toe down view of the last one, it looks pretty sweet with that cord jumping out of the tooling.

I’m freelance, I’m up to my ears in NDA’s, so all the cool stuff I’ve got on at the moment, I cannot share.

The other stuff is pay-the-bills spec work, knock-off stuff.

But here is pre-headshave pre-rehab Brit, wearing my shoes. I always get the trashy ones. The pic is rubbish, I can’t find a bigger one at the moment.

I did this polycarbonate shoe about ten years ago. I still love it.

It was a nightmare to develop and the molding costs (made in Italy) were horrific. The brief was to design a fetish shoe that is actually comfortable. I used an orthopedic last!

That inspired me to consider the portrait of the typical Industrial Designer.
We actually have a nice mechanism to measure that when looking at the number of posts to the Special Interest boards:

In rank order:

Footwear: 5699
Transportation: 2187
Furniture: 1265
Research: 943
Consumer: 932
Business: 709
Toys: 609
Green: 335
Interaction: 309
Innovation: 276

surprising isnt it that footwear is the largest sub-category here on the forums when probably the smallest in terms of designer population (ie. compared consumer products, UI, etc.)…?

i wonder why that is…


There aren’t many shoe designers. I get so many desperate recruiters calling me up, because they don’t know where to start. If we are talking fashion footwear, then they prefer to see a footwear qualification.

There aren’t enough footwear courses and even then, they aren’t tailored to market needs. The course that Hotmix and I did, it doesn’t cover athletic footwear very well, considering how many people wear sneakers over everything else, it should do. There are kazillions of specialised fashion courses out there, but footwear is kind of lacking.

Finally, the industry doesn’t recruit many graduates, it’s expensive and they seem to be more interested in recruiting those with 2 or 3 years under their belts instead. I get many emails from graduates who can’t find a job, yet there are lots of jobs - something must be awry somewhere?

Thanks yo! I had a lot of fun playing with materials on these. I don’t have a toe-down shot of the canvas shoe, but here’s a 3/4 view…

Nice Liz, I was wondering if they were symmetrical or not. I’d love to see a nice micro perf in that quarter/toe underlay… but then again, I over microperf everything. I don’t know why I love micro perfs so much.

Shoenista, that Brit /Paris pic is pretty hilarious. Must be cool to shoe the stars. Always wanted to design a polycarb shoe myself, maybe I should just draw some up…