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How Can I Design My Own Shoes?

How do you design your own shoes? What skills do you need to be a footwear designer? Learn everything you need to know about the shoe design process in this handy guide.

Whether you’re interested in the shoe design process or you want to know what skills you need to be a footwear designer, allow the owner of Percy Stride, Danielle Wathes, to guide you through the initial process.

Ever since she launched Percy Stride in 2017, the brand has continued to grow.

One of the main reasons behind the success of Percy Stride is in the shoe design process.

While any person can create a pair of budget shoes, Dani took the time to carefully plan every element before introducing her range of shoes to the market.

To give you an idea of how to design your own shoes and what’s involved, she’s put together a step-by-step guide.

Planning your shoe design

Before you put pencil to paper, you need to think about the target audience, design and style in great detail.

For instance, do you like the traditional look of a Goodyear welted men’s Oxford shoe? Has the pattern of brogue footwear caught your eye? Or do you want to create a stylish, yet comfortable, pair of women’s heels?

Consider the anatomy of a shoe and the characteristics of each style. We have more details on men’s styles in particular, in our previous blog: ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Men’s Dress Shoes’.

Whether you’re designing shoes for men or women, the best place to start is Pinterest. Create a mood board and start collecting images of your favourite footwear. This can include the colours, style or feature.

Once you’ve developed your mood board, you’ll be able to establish a theme and shoe design moving forward.

If you want to expand your ideas further, use word connotations. Choose a word that you want to best fit your shoe design.

You can then find images of footwear for your mood board that best represent the meaning of this word.

How to draw a shoe design

After you have a clear style of shoe and a rough idea of the embellishments you like in mind, it’s time to get drawing.

There are two different types of drawing stages:

  • Specification drawing – this is supposed to look like a drawing of a real shoe, as it’s used by the manufacturers. While this type of drawing might not look as creative, it requires incredible detail to ensure the factory gets it right.

  • Artistic drawing – put together some rough sketches, playing around with the look of your designs. Use it as an opportunity to try adding features and forming a unique trademark look to your shoe design.

During the artistic stage of the shoe design process, feel free to create thumbnails – testing how various accents, buckles and other cool features look.

You can then enlarge them and go into greater detail, considering fabrics and finer details.

What skills do you need to be a footwear designer?

You don’t necessarily have to be an artist to be an English men’s shoe designer – although it doesn’t hurt! The key to success is in planning and having a vision of what you want.

As long as you can successfully portray what kind of style and features you’re aiming for to the manufacturers, there’s no stopping you.

It's extremely important to be forward-thinking and a brilliant listener as well. The Percy Stride brand philosophy is built on forming relationships with our clients and getting to know what styles they like and how they like their shoes to fit.

We use this information to form our shoe designs and blog content. It's about being in touch with the target market.

For more handy pointers on how to design your own men’s shoes or if you’d like to see what Dani’s initial drawings looked like tune in to our social media and youtube channel for more videos and content.

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