This has got to be the question I am asked the most after, 'how do I get my shoe prototypes made?'
Well, it's quite tricky to find a manufacturer if you are new to the footwear trade. Many factories only work with established brands - the factories and agents that we work with tend to fall into this camp.
First of all if you require a footwear manufacturer, the first question to ask yourself is, what kind of footwear am I going to have made?
This is because shoe factories specialise only in one or two types of footwear - you cannot get high heels made in a sneaker factory. Some womens heel factories don't make long leg boots - they make only a specific type of footwear. This is because they don't have the machinery or the expertise or both.
For instance, to make high heels you would need a heel attachment machine.
A pattern cutter in a factory that makes high heeled boots will be skilled at springing a boot pattern (this is the art of cutting the pattern so that there are no creases across the front of the boot). A pattern cutter in a sneaker factory wouldn't know where to begin to cut a pattern for a high heeled boot! Occasionally you get a cross over in fashion and this becomes more apparent. Like when there was a trend for long leg boots with sneaker outsoles and styling - I can't tell you the problems I had trying to get a sneaker factory to understand how to correctly engineer the upper pattern for a high leg boot....anywayyy, you get the picture!
So, firstly you need to be specific about what you want -
Gender - mens, womens or kids?
Any special fitting issues? Width Fittings? Very large or very small sizes etc?
Construction - Heels or flat or both? If you are making sneakers, any specific construction such as board lasted or stroball? Goodyear Welted?
What about the soles? Are they moulded or not? Made from what?
Materials? Leather or synthetic? Textile?
Price? Low or High or somewhere in the middle?
Check back in the next few days for Part Two - Where do I look?