6 Things Only Other Shoe Designers Understand

Throughout my time in the footwear industry, there have been certain constants that kept cropping up that I’ve figured out over time would only be fully appreciated by someone that was also a footwear designer/developer. From 3am phones calls, to surviving on coffee and energetic music, these are the ‘6 things only other shoe designers understand’.


1. What you actually do for a living (and how you make money from it)

Telling people you design shoes for a living is somewhat like telling them you teach unicorns how to surf. It’s met with a mixture of emotions, from ‘what! thats so cool’ to ‘no way bro!, that actually exists?’.

I’ll be completely honest, most of my family and friends generally have no clue what I actually do for a living. Mostly because I can’t be bothered to explain it, and even if I did, it probably wouldn’t matter. The only time people realised I was actually doing something productive with my life was when they saw me making a little money and getting to travel a lot for ‘business’.


2. You (probably) didn’t design the shoes you’re wearing

Ok, so you might have designed them, I have quite a few shoes i’ve designed tucked away in my closet. However, it always seems after I’ve told someone what I do for a living, they always ask, ‘Oh, did you design those shoes your wearing right now!?’

…Ive never once been wearing anything remotely designed by me whenever that questions been asked.



3. Concept renderings aren’t real and don’t come with a release date

I don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain concept renderings aren’t actually real, and that they cannot, in fact, be purchased. I’ll leave it at that.


4. How important the details are

Let’s be honest, a large proportion of the people buying your designs aren’t going to know the heartache you went through to get a certain detail produced, or what makes them as consumers actually like that particular shoe so much. The shape of the last and the amount of toe spring it has, the 1mm you raised a particular piece of suede or how you used a specific lining material, will probably be lost on most. But thats ok, because the 1% that do get it totally make up for it. Plus, though a large majority may not appreciate those details, they’re actually what made them buy your shoe over everyone else’s without even realising it.

You can also feel warm and gooey inside knowing that you managed to put out something different into the marketplace, and not just some regurgitated bs.



5. You forget to eat

Don’t me wrong here, I love food, how I’m not incredibly obese is beyond me. That being said, when i’m fully in my design zone, I can completely forget to eat for an entire day. I basically survive off of coffee and energetic music to pull me through in times like that (hence the CK Playlists).


6. There are no such thing as ‘set business hours’

Smart phones pretty much killed any chance of being unreachable at any time, anywhere. With footwear factories being located everywhere from China to Portugal and dealing with clients around the globe, it means that answering emails at 3am or having Skype calls at 9am on a Sunday is not an uncommon practice. In short, this isn’t a 9-5 type of deal.



Mr. Bailey

Product Designer + Footwear Architect | Founder of @ConceptKicks | www.MrBailey.co.uk

Join the conversation

  • James Howe - 5 years ago

    Totally agree with all of this, its such a relief to know I’m not on my own with these extremely late nights and lack of eating! Great post man!