How a New Shoe is Made: Shoe Development Process

The Shoe Development Process

Once the design concept has been selected and refined, it is time to turn the drawings into a new sneaker.  This is when the footwear developer joins the designer to move the project forward. The developer is an experienced technician that will transform the drawings into instructions for the factory. The development phase starts with a drawing and ends months later with a sample in the salesmen’s hands.

Together, the shoe designer and shoe developer will create a detailed “tech pack” or a set of specification drawings or “specs” for the new shoe design. These drawings and documents detail every part of the sneaker from the upper to the outsole bottom. The specifications include the name of each shoe part, the material, material vendor, thickness, and color. The spec includes the shoe last information, logo art, design details, emboss effects etc. The spec may also include sample shoes, material swatches, photos, or any other notes to help build the samples.

The shoe development spec may be e-mailed, sent by courier service, or hand carried by the developer to the factory. At this point in the shoe development process, the developer is now responsible for getting the sample sneakers built.

shoe specification drawingsSpecification Drawing

This is what a complete spec drawing looks like:
Medial View (inside of the shoe)
Heel View (view from the back)
Tongue View (showing any logo art)
Vamp View (looking down on the toe)
Detail views of any small plastic parts
Material Map of the upper
Color map of the first sample colorway to be made.

Outsole Side Profile
Outsole Bottom View
Outsole Top net View
Detailed view of injection parts
Cross section view of the sole
Texture map showing the surface details
Color map showing future plans for color breaks.

Learn more in Chapter 3 of  “How Shoes are Made”

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