How to Make a Shoe Production Specification
Let’s learn how to make a real factory ready shoe production specification sheet. Now that you have your shoe design finished, it’s time to write a detailed specification sheet. The footwear specific specification sheet or simply “spec” sheet does a few things.
#1. The Spec tells the shoe factory the name of each part of your design.
#2. The Spec sheet details what each shoe part is made of.
#3. It tells the shoe factory what color every part is.
#4. It tells who supplies each material to the shoe factory.
The shoe specification sheet is also your contract with the factory. The spec sheet tells them exactly what you want for all the internal components and answers questions about what should be inside the shoe.
A detailed specification sheet is absolutely critical to your success. If you leave line items open with no detail, the factory will choose whatever they have inside the factory for these parts. This may be good or be bad, but you will get an unexpected result. We also use the spec sheet to check the new samples that come in from the factory. It’s important to review each sample with the spec sheet to make sure the factory followed the specification sheet. It’s good to highlight differences and ask the factory why they deviated from the spec sheet. Maybe they have a suggestion that’s better than what you chose? In many cases, the factory developer or pattern maker will substitute with a material that they have on hand, and it may work better than your original specification.
Shoe Specification Material Maps:
I make a material map when I’m specifying a new shoe the factory hasn’t seen before. It’s important for the shoe factory to know the terminology we are using. Take a black-and-white drawing and give each piece a number, while making sure the numbers on your spec sheet match the drawings. This takes just a few minutes and can save you the hassle of a simple mistake.
Shoe Specification Sheet Header:
The specification sheet header contains lots of key information the factory will need to make the samples. Some key parts are the factory name/address, last number, model name, outsole code, and size run information. This is the basic information that pattern makers will need to make your pattern on the correct lasts and make sure your upper design is attached to the correct sole unit.
Filling in the Footwear Specification Sheet:
The bulk of the information on the footwear spec sheet will include the names of the components and then what material you specified for each component. For a shoe vamp you may spec the following:
When detailing the shoe materials, you will list the name, the manufacturer, and the code number or swatch book. Depending on the material, you will list the thickness of the material, emboss pattern, and backing material.
Shoe Specification for the Upper Components:
I like to break up the components of the shoe into several sections. The first being the upper components of the shoe, where I personally like to start with the front of the shoe and work backward. Then I list the inside lining components and reinforcing components, all the pieces that you can’t see inside the shoe like the vamp lining, collar lining, etc… In this section, you can also list things like the glue, collar foam density and thickness, and the thread type you want to use on your shoe.
Shoe Specification for the Outsole Unit:
The next section would call out the footwear outsole unit components. You are going to list the rubber parts, color, and other details like the logo. You can also spec the rubber hardness, specific gravity, and other characteristics like non-skid. Also list the midsole if it’s molded or die cut with its density, color, and any other parts.
The final section of the spec sheet should list any of the items that are not necessarily part of the shoe but are still part of the package. Examples of these could be the cardboard box, tissue paper, tags, any stuffing, extra shoelaces, keychains, or a users manual in a plastic bag. Anything like that should be included in the final section.