Our boy Omar Bailey (We posted his Ektio samples a couple weeks back) just recently returned from one of his many development trips to china and managed to document some of the trip for us. Travelling back and forth from China, Brazil, Japan, Korea and everywhere else all year, Omar’s turning into somewhat of a seasoned vet at these development trips. Check out what went down on his latest trip, below.
[highlight] CK – Where abouts in China did you go? [/highlight]
OB – The trip was from April 1st to April 15th. I was in Hong Kong, Dongguan (houjie), Putian, and Ningbo China
[highlight] CK – What was the reason for going? [/highlight]
OB – It was normal development trip that I take once every 2 months. I had meetings for a new brand that I am involved in, at the moment we are wrapping up all the confirmation, fit test, and sales samples that we need to show at tradeshows like magic, and Ffany amongst many others. It really makes all the difference by being there and meeting face to face with the engineers and general managers of the factory’s to nail all the kinks and develop new and better solutions for existing issues. I also spent a lot of time out on the market shopping for materials, laces, lace tips, etc. I don’t think most people realize because these are there things that makes the difference in your shoe its extremely important to shop yourself (as the designer) in the city that you are making the shoes in because logistically the factory can get the supply’s from them very easily and you will get what you want. I have also been on the other side of this equation early in my career before I started traveling abroad by specing materials and details and getting something totally different. At the end of the day if you have to go to China, Brazil, Italy, or wherever only for 3 hour meeting to finalize your shoes or products its worth the time and money to travel there because it will save you a huge headache in the future when shit doesn’t go the way you want.
I started my design business with the intention on providing this service to my clients. I know it can be intimidating to travel to another country you know nothing about, but in my case I been to china 25 times so far in the last 5 years or so. I worked on the corporate side for Adidas, Timberland, New Balance, and K-swiss and have may ny friends at Nike, Reebok, etc. but they don’t have to deal with nearly as much as I do. In addition to designing the shoes, I am also the developer, merchandiser, PLM (product line manager), Quality controller, marketing consultant (to some degree), Sales rep and overall the main contact person for everything from design to retail. When something works and does well I get the praise, and when it fails I get my ass handed to me. It comes with the territory and going to china and brazil for me is a big part of that.
[highlight] CK – Were there many issues with the samples? [/highlight]
OB – dude! There is always problems with samples. First off I don’t even like showing samples to my clients but I have to because they are spending a lot of money in most cases. But I try to tell them to have no expectations with first samples because you never know how they are going to look. The most important part of getting a first sample is the fact that it is a 3D representation of what you want you want. Its a starting point, and because it looks messed up and is not what you want is not important, you need to correct it and work through it with your sample room to get it right. I don’t think people realize that making shoes takes a lot time, effort and requires a lot of man hours to make them. You don’t just stick rubber and leather into a machine and out pops a shoe (shit!!! I wish it was like that sometime) when your going from 2D to 3D its a very difficult transition and having a good pattern maker is the key to this whole thing, if you don’t have that then forget about it. And no mater how good the pattern maker is your still going to have mistakes, or something is not going to look as nice as you thought. Designing and developing shoes is all about improvising and making good business decisions on patterns, materials, insoles, etc. that can save you some money at the end of the day. You can cant be married to your designs because you are going to have to make changes at some point that is going to make slightly different that what you imagined (its inevitable! Its going to happen). In this case there were def issues with my shoes, and when your dealing with over 100 skus by yourself you have to make good quick descions on move on to the next one, period. Or you will waste your time and loose your trip. The other thing you don’t want to do is piss off your factory’s of which we can get into that another time.
[highlight] CK – When is the next trip? [/highlight]
OB – Looks like I will be headed back at the end of may 2012 for a client of mine who develops gear, apparel, and footwear for MMA athletes in the UFC.
[highlight] Shoelace Shopping [/highlight]
[highlight] Material Supplier [/highlight]
[highlight] wow. [/highlight]
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