How to Start a Shoe Line - Advice from The Factory

We receive many requests from people starting up their own footwear brand. We try to introduce our way of working and explain the necessary points and conditions on how to start your production in our factories. If you are new to the footwear industry and want to start your shoe business, please read this text to better understand the process.

We reserve our time to work on shoe lines from already established footwear and fashion brands who make the largest portion of our business. When you are a startup in this industry and want to work with us we have to reserve our time to assist you and develop your shoes/brand but not knowing if that will be profitable for us, because your ability as a startup to make larger orders is often not the case. Small orders just can’t cover the time and expense of development. For example, the development process for a 500 pair order is the same as a 25,000 pair order.

So what can you do about it? How can you put your shoes on the production line? Here is what you can do to speed up the things until the production.



When you are a startup we leave all of the drawing and designing to you. If you don’t have any experience in designing footwear you should hire a professional footwear designer. You should work with the designer, explain your brand and your targeted audience. Once you have the designs ready it’s time to make the prototypes.


Your designer should be capable to make the prototypes for you, but if he isn’t then you should hire a company that makes prototypes. Maybe the best option for you would be to hire professionals who offer making designs and prototypes as one service.

There are footwear expos where you can find companies offering sample making or readymade models for you to buy. Such place is the MICAM expo in Italy, Milan. There are lots of brands presenting their new models and is very likely to find designers and prototype makers there. Contact the expo info center for more information regarding this.

After you have the prototypes in your hands, make sure you know where the materials can be bought from. Soles are most important. Usually the other materials are easier to be found within our suppliers’ network.

That's one way to do it if you don't know how to make the prototypes by yourself. 

Another option we can offer to you is to choose from our existing models. Those are models made by us and can be used to decide the form (the lasts) of the shoe, the soles, etc. If you want a similar design we can do a few changes and sign the model with your brand. This option is the easiest way for a startup to have everything ready for making the production a reality in a timely manner. Maybe the models we have in the factories are very close to the design you want to produce.

It all depends on what is your idea.

Material sourcing

Now that you have the prototypes and the patterns, it’s time for the factory to take over.

What does that mean? That means that we will contact the suppliers of the materials from which the prototypes are made of and buy some materials so we could make the samples for you.

Our advice when materials are in question is to visit one of the most famous expos in Europe, Italy, Milan: The LINEAPELLE trade show. International exhibition dedicated to leather, accessories, components, synthetics and models for footwear. That’s the place where you can find what you need for your shoe line. Soles, Leather, Lining, basically everything.

However, if you are not experienced in making footwear, we do not advise you to choose lasts, soles and other materials by yourself. You can do that only when buying a ready-made model.

If the materials are more expensive than what we’ve expected to be, we can offer you to use our suppliers of materials where those same or similar materials can be bought for cheaper price, since we’ve been working for long time with them we often get discounted prices. Cutting down a certain amount of the cost for the materials will affect the overall cost you are going to pay for your order, and that means from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars/euros depending on the volume of the order.


After we have everything set right it’s time to make the samples. Our developer will make your samples by hand. Usually it takes one day per design. We’ll use our materials for making the first efforts and tests. After we’ve made sure that that’s the way to do the samples we’ll use your materials for the final samples and send them to you for confirmation. Once you confirm the samples are good we are ready to prepare and plan the production.


Before we plan the production the following points must be clear to both sides:

  • Confirmed samples
  • Confirmed prices
  • Confirmed quantity
  • Material suppliers
  • Time required for the materials to be delivered to the factory
  • Packaging
  • Delivery date for your order

Our minimum quantity order (MOQ) is ~ 500 pairs per design (per style).

For quantities from 1,000 to 2,500 pairs you should reserve the production at least 6 months before the delivering date.

For bigger orders we’ll have to discuss the actual case.


Usually the buyer organizes all of the transportation details. If you are not able to do that, we can assist you by hiring our forwarding agencies and transportation companies. We can organize transportation by air, sea or land.

We hope this was useful and informative for you. 

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Our Philosophy

Beautiful journeys start with shoes
designed and made with passion,
finished with love and care.