Let me first start of by saying that I have no credentials in shoe design and/or company branding. The closest that I have to design skills was drawing Wolverine and Ninja Turtles when I was a young boy. As far as company branding goes, well I did have a Minor (at University) in Marketing, but I don’t really remember much about any of it if I am going to be honest. So, as you can see, there is not much of a ‘creative’ background that I bring to the table. What I will say has always been one of my strengths, which I believe has helped me in my creativity, was the fact that I was always extremely observant, TO EVERYTHING! It’s easy to say ‘that shoe looks better than that other one,’ but it’s hard to give a technical explanation as to why that is. Through over persistent observation, however, you are able to start distinguishing the minute details in pattern/last design that make one shoe more attractive then another. This is what you will need to be able to do when creating shoes that will differentiate themselves from all the rest.
Shoes patterns are made from a side point of view, i.e. they are created on the outside half of the left shoe, graded to then create the inside half of the left shoe and then mirrored to create the right shoe (at least for Ready To Wear shoes, bespoke is another story….) That being, a good pattern maker should be able to take a simple drawing (of the outside of the left shoe, as shown) to then create the pattern to turn into a 3-Dimensional product. Obviously the better that you can proportion the lines of your drawing to an actual shoe, the easier it will be for the pattern maker to create the precise pattern that you want. This is all it takes to work with a shoe factory, as proved by what I have done. Therefore, to be your own shoe designer, you don’t need a degree in anything besides a bit of common sense, some knowledge of shoes and the ability to sketch a half-decent picture of a shoe. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Granted, if you were to study pattern making, it would help you to create EXACTLY what you want, as sometimes, it can be hard to express to another person (i.e. the pattern maker) exactly what you were picturing in your head. This would definitely be an advantage, but not a absolute must. But then again, once the initial pattern is created from your sketch designs, and you are able to see it in 3-D, it is much easier to then adjust the lines/details by directly drawing on the shoe and giving it back to the pattern maker. This is precisely what has happened to me, and is the reason why it has taken over a year to create my line. But don’t be discouraged by this, as creating something is never going to be easy or quick and it’s best to take your time and make the product the best that you can instead of releasing it when you are not 1000% satisfied with it!
Stay tuned next week as I talk about branding and creating your lasts for your RTW collection.