Local Market Shoe Materials
Picking Shoe Materials from Local Markets
In the major shoe making centers in China you will find thriving local markets for shoe materials. The local markets are store fronts large and small with every type of shoe material, shoe component and manufacturing equipment available. You will find many store fronts displaying the material swatches available to order from a nearby factory or you will find shoe materials in stock that you can purchase immediately for use making samples. These market areas are very well organized, you will find streets lined with shoe material suppliers and even shopping malls crammed with all types of shoe materials.
I’m going to describe a busy shoe material market area in the town of Houjie. Houjie is located about 2 hours drive from the Hong Kong airport. Houjie is an industrial city which is common to find in China. The city has a robust footwear and furniture industry. Located within a 5 minutes walk from the Sheraton™ Hotel you will find hundreds of shoe material and equipment dealers.
What you will find in the shoe material markets?
Almost everything! Except you won’t find many dealers that speak english and you may need help with translations. Make sure to take some business cards or catalogs so the dealer can see what kind of shoes you’re making. Also you should have your Pantone book to check colors and bring a drawing of your shoes, this can help the dealer understand your needs.
The local material market is a great place to look for new ideas. The material market is also a good place to find materials for your sample shoes or a small production run. If you have a large production run, the material supplier will be happy help place an order directly with the factory. You must be careful when purchasing shoe materials from the local market. The supply factory information may not always be available and there may not be material test reports. Therefore, before you use any local shoe material in your production, you need to get some lab tests done to make sure the material is suitable for your shoes.
The material market in Houjie is a great place to find shoe leather. There are many different suppliers with all different types of leather. You will find leather in every color of the rainbow, from thick to thin, and in many different finishes. You can buy leather by the hide or a dozen hides at once. Of course, if you have a production order they can help you with that too.
Textiles for shoes are also plentiful in the local market. You can buy swatch cuttings or 100 meter rolls. You will find mesh for shoe uppers, shoe lining materials, and entire stores with reinforcing fabrics and strobal bottoms for shoes.
Shoe outsoles are also available in the local market. You will find dealers with hundreds of outsole models on display. These are “open” mold outsole units. You can find flat treads, platform heels for women’s shoes, work boot bottoms, soccer cleats, casual bottoms and running shoe bottoms. In the local market you will find “copy” bottoms of the latest shoe designs (without logos). You cannot buy a single outsole 1 but you can order small runs of 5 to 10 units to make samples, then of course more for production. The only issue with the local market outsole is the last bottom is already set. This may or may not work for your market. You can buy the last with the outsoles or you can have a local last maker help you model the last to fit the outsoles.
Can you find shoe laces? Yes, by the thousand!
Can you find metal hardware? Yes!