sneakers....I need your advice/help/experience...

Hey everybody. Im Wojtek, based in Warsaw/Poland (its central europe, not north carolina :slight_smile:)
anyway, this is the ONLY place on whole internet that gives ANY perspective on shoe production process so i decided to post my questions here.
Im not a designer so let me say that im sorry if im interrupting your ecosystem here but being young (22) and inexperienced in this field i hope that will help me to move on with my ideas.

i was recently able to become a owner of a shoe trademark/brandname that was expremely popular here in lat 80s/early 90s. as a longtime fan of streetculture, streetwear and nice sneaker designs i worked on it for the last year and a half and managed to obtain rights to this trademark. im REALLY excited about this and i feel really blessed that i had this idea and worked to make it happen. i have a marketing strategy already written down, dozens ideas on branding techniques etc.

but excitement does not produce a sneaker…

im writing my businessplan but have a really hard time finding data on some of the industry standards.
is it possible to manufacture a really small runs (sans JB Classics). What are minimums of different manufacturers worldwide? How much should i count as a cost of manufacturing 1000 sneakers in one style (do they even make 1000 of one style in all sizes?)

I know those are some of the most basic questions but those were not answered by this crap ebook i bought for 70$, google and our local constructors who are still stuck in the 80s.
i hope some of you would be able to help me to move on with this project since its a pretty good idea (already successfully executed in Hungary)
can you help me by providing any insight on those questions?

thanks in advance and big respect


hmmm…interesting question.

There are a lot of variables, really.

To start with, I assume, you are asking about making your won sneaker brand from the ground up. Not to mention, the large amounts of marketing dollars (or euros) needed, and the distribution network required (one of the most important things…maybe even more than product), i assume you are asking about upfront development and design costs.

For one, it depends where you are planning to manufacture you sneakers and what kinds they are.

As you mention retro sneakers, I assume you are talking about something pretty basic, like retro running like NB or retro basketball like a dunk or something similar.

Putting aside design (im sure you can find lots of willing, young, experienced designers here on core), the next step is talking tooling and development resources.

Lets talk China (since that is where you would be making a typical sneaker, likely).

In general, you have two big choices- working with a good quality factory, creating original molds and upper patterns, or working with a “public” design and mold in a lower quality fty in someplace like Xiamen or JianJian.

At a cheapo fty you could stick your logo on an existing design (likely a copy of some nike or other brand), and go for very low qty (around 300-500 per color per style). No need to pay for molds or cutting dies or development costs…but you get what you pay for. i dont know the terms for ftys like this, but I would strongly advise against this route…the products are shit…the factories are shady, and certainly not a good way to start a brand.

The other way is to either work with a reputable fty directly or go through a trading company. In this path, you will likely not pay for development cost of samples, but need to pay for molds, cutting dies, and have higher minimums per color and style.

Typically, for your reference, molds costs are around $1200 for a rubber cupsole, $$1200USD for a molded EVA midsole (both per full size), and minimums to cover cutting dies around 6000prs per style (total on a full size range), and 1200prs per color order. Of course you can always negociate different terms and pay upcharges.

Im not sure the specific terms for limited edition sneakers like JB classics, but from what I know of ftys that do stuff like this (like the Evisu limited edition stuff), the brand/developer pays surcharges for the development and a very high cost for samples (like $100 per pair) to offset the low production quanitity, plus around +100% on the FOb (cost) price for the low production numbers (less than 500prs).

hope this helps with some details.

best of luck to you!!


ps. feel free to check out my blog, First Pullover, at htp:// for more info on shoe production and development.


thanks a lot
you blog is actually how i got here :slight_smile:

your post kinda opened my eyes and now i need to revise my plans and calculations. 3000 pairs of one style is absolutely outside the level of my distribution channel capaticy (two flagship stores for now) and branding strategy (limited runs/exclusivity factor). by no means i could sell 3000 pairs of one style in two locations.
the styles we are talking are items in vein of dunks/slipons/chukkas etc.
i guess i will have to look for a local established footwear business to partner.
as far as marketing, due to my strong relationship with showbiz people here im realying mostly on non-traditional marketing (word of mouth, viral, endorsment etc.).

sh*t, looks like jason bass (jb classics) was really lucky to find his manufacturer :frowning:

edit: i would NEVER consider putting my logo on already produced shoes. great way to ruin you brands appeal :slight_smile:

oh richard, one other imporatant question if you may…

what if the company would be releasing only 4 styles of the shoe just in different colorways/fabrics…
the way the multiply versions of dunks, af1s , vans slip ons are being released

does it help with manufacturing smaller runs?
from what i understand, most of the pre-production costs could be only done one time since the design itself would be the same.
can i avoid the 3000minimum when we are just releasing different colorways of the same style?
i could sell few thousand pairs of the same style, just in lot of different colorways…

i hope thats not too much questions for one summer eneving…


Hey nosovski,

Color variations within a style is one way to spread the production Min order. Also another way to save costs if your not going to come up with a fabulous next sole and mid technology is to buy these off the shelf. I have examples of soles and mid pictures, let me know and I can email them to you.

I working on a service where we can help you design and manufacture sneakers based on using off the shelf bottom and mids.

Good luck.