8 Steps To Consider Before Becoming A Shoe Designer

As Giuseppe Zanotti put it,Never underestimate the power of a shoe.” They have the power to pull wardrobe ensembles together and build the wearer’s confidence. So, it’s no wonder that there is a global market for them. Research and Markets reported that the shoe industry in the United States alone brings in $25 billion annually. The global market for footwear brings in $52.1 billion in annual revenue and is projected to hit $371.8 billion in 2020. Unlike the spontaneous whim when it comes to purchasing a new pair of shoes, shoe brand and design needs some thoughts and attention to details. As a budding entrepreneur, here are some key points you should consider:

[Image: Stanley Wong’s Illustration]

  1. Do your research

As its been mentioned in previous posts, defining who your potential target market is, the type of shoes you’ll concentrate on and if you’ll serve both genders are questions you need to answer. Avoid walking into this profession without some cold-hard facts; invest in some quality market research. It’ll help keep your innovation and creativity in the direction of your customer’s buying power and requirements. In addition it will help you give your competitors a run for their money.

Schloss Fuschl Wedding Editorial [Image: Tony Gigov]

  1. Learn how to sketch

Sketching can be defined as the art of capturing n idea you’ve envisioned and doesn’t exist. Unlike drawing which can be a recreation of something you can see or already exists. Since your idea is original, chances are you won’t be able to find it on online search engines. Sketching helps you to communicate that idea for your design so you can proceed into making it a reality or can better guide creative to make it for you.

[Image: Aaron Tilley]

  1. Adobe Creative Suites are a great asset

The world thinks in 3D now, thus knowing how to use computer-aided design (CAD) is one of your greatest assets. Using platforms like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator renders your sketches and gives your production stage a more defined plan. Learning how to use the creative suite is an investment in your future and should be a skill you master before the project begins to snowball.

[Image: Lighting Essentials]

  1. Study

Many sights will tell you that it’s not completely necessary to go for formal education. However, there is some benefit to getting a degree in the field that inspires you. In this competitive industry, having a thorough knowledge of the fashion industry can give you the added advantage. It’s taking the various knowledge on materials, design technique, and fashion trends that can turn that work of art into a practical accessory as well. And we can’t emphasis this enough, great designers are individuals who understand the process; and can do it themselves to. For example, a shoe designer should be able to design the piece, cut and sew the fabric, work with design programs and software, as well as understand shoe structure and how the pieces come together. While most designers will take Product design courses, some designers opt for other degrees such as Fine Arts, Sculpture or Graphic Design classes, so definitely don’t limit yourself.

[Image: Chrisitan Louboutin]

  1. Get some experience

Getting an education is great, but work experience is imperative! Actively seek out internships ad apprenticeship where you can learn from the best in the industry. If you can start to look for these opportunities as you study, even better. It’s this kind of interaction that shows you how to turn those illustrations into samples and finally, the finished product. In essence, it’s the introduction to the real industry and how it actually operates.

As Pablo Picasso said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

You’ll have the necessary connections and rapport with the manufacturing and retailing parts of the industry. In fact, even when you’re done with internships and school, you can never go wrong with having a mentor. Finding someone who is in the same line of footwear or has a great understanding of the industry can show you how to open the doors in your career.

Adidas Originals by Neighborhood 2014 F/W Editorial. [Image: Adidas]

6.     Know the other players

You may be overflowing with ideas and creativity, but you’re attempting to join a pre-existing industry. Originality is key, therefore you need to do your research on what’s already on offer. You don’t want to end up releasing a line that is so similar or looks inspired by another designer. Talk about starting off on the wrong foot. Have a full grasp on concepts that already exist and then you can work on differentiating yourself from peers. As B. Riley & Co. LLC analyst Jeff Van Sinderen explains, You may not be better at everything than the peers you compete with, but you can be different and you can stand out from the crowd.”

[Image: Trendland]

7.     Develop connections and alliances.

The delicate art of networking applies to the footwear industry as well. But don’t try to rush it. It’s a step by step process to foster a relationship that compliments your design style and personality. Remember not to hustle them. This kind of connections can let you know when opportune moments present themselves in the industry, but it has to be your skill and execution that gets you to the next level.

[Image: Robert Poll Photography]

8.    Plan! Plan! Plan!

While this is a creative profession, there’s quite lot of serious, less interesting paperwork and business-oriented things you’ll need to do as well. The truth is half of new business don’t survive past the five-year mark. And that number drops to a third at the decade mark. You could be 70% creative, but your 30% needs to be able to organise cost sheets, develop presentations and figures for the lenders and keep on top of the books to make sure you don’t go into debt. You’re also going to want to look into your legal structure. From registering the business and trademarks, to paying taxes, play by the book to not only keep the federals off of your back, but to keep your idea safe. Feel free to seek assistance from professionals such as lawyers, accountants and business planners to make sure you actually have a product and business at the end of the day.

[Image: Josh Caudwell]

Once these steps are in play, marketing your brand and yourself as a designer will be on your agenda. Have this material ready and your online portals ready at all times. But when it all comes to it, having the right passion will see you through. Being a designer is tough. You’re not always going to have hoards of fans. But keeping the passion to design, solve and materialise your ideas is what will get you through the ebbs and flows of your career.


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