Footwear is a large part of the fashion industry with the U.S. holding the largest consumer market for footwear. It’s easy to see why – shoes have evolved from serving as not only protection, but also indicators of style and identity. If you are looking to start a footwear line, continue reading to learn about what you need to know, have, and communicate to your manufacturing partner to bring your shoe design to life.
What is a Tech Pack in Fashion Design?
A tech pack, also known as your Specification Sheets, gives garment manufacturers all of the information they need to make your design. If you are looking for a guide on clothing tech packs, or why you should make one, you can find that here.
While different types of tech packs share similarities, there are some things about footwear tech packs specifically that you should be aware of.
Understanding Basic Foot Anatomy for Designing Shoes and Footwear
When you’re designing your footwear line, knowing some foot anatomy will help you write your tech pack and accurately describe where you want things placed. Use the diagram below as a guide:
Knowing the basics of how footwear should fit will help you in the design process; depending on the type of footwear you are designing, you might need to expand your knowledge by reading some books or researching online. For example, if you are designing shoes for a condition, like plantar factitious, you will need to know more about what causes this foot condition to design shoes (or even socks) that fit correctly and comfortably.
What Should Go in a Footwear Tech Pack?
Before you begin writing your tech pack, you need to know what type of shoe you are designing. Is it an athletic shoe? A dance shoe? Or a dress shoe? Once you know what function the shoe will serve, you will be able to determine which materials you will need. You will also need to have answers in each of the following areas to clearly communicate how your shoes should look, fit, and feel to the footwear factory making them:
- Men, Women, Children, or Infants? – Your proposed shoe wearer will determine which sizing standard you use.
- Size Chart – Sizing charts vary by country. If you choose to use the U.K. shoe chart, you need to put that in your tech pack so your manufacturer knows. If you want a wide or narrow fit, you will need to include that with your sizing and at which part you want the fit wider or more narrow.
- Heel Height and Type – There are different types of heels: stiletto, wedge, pin, kitten, etc., so you will not only need to name the type of heel you want, but also its height.
- Color – You will need to label what color you want your shoe to be and any other part that is a different color. There are many colors you can use, or create your own through fabric sourcing research and sampling. If you’re looking for a color number to make identifying your expected material color easier, Pantone is a good resource.
- Materials – There are many materials that you can use for shoes and often you’ll use more than one. For example, the heel and sole often differ in material from the tongue or lining. Specify on which part of the shoe you want each material used.
- Type of Shoe – Just as clothing garments have names, so do shoes. Platform, flip flop, loafer, oxford, moccasin, cowboy boot, sneaker, and slipper are all a type of shoe. You will also need to note in your tech pack if your design has a peep toe, if it’s closed, or if it is pointed or rounded.
- Trims – Your trims include buckles, laces, rhinestones, velcro straps, and any other décor or embellishments you want on your footwear. You will need to note the thinness and thickness of the laces and materials you want used. If you want velcro straps, how many do you want? Do you want your shoes to light up? For any metals, you will need to say what color you want and whether or not you want real or plated metals.
- Photos – Use photos and sketches to your advantage. Make sure to include every angle, the inside and outside as well. Include a photo or a clear 3D rendering product sketch without any color or print so manufacturers can see the structure of the shoe. When including photos or product renderings, see that they are high quality. If they are blurry, manufacturers won’t be able to understand what you want.
Avoid High Cost Mistakes with a Detailed Shoe Tech Pack
Shoes are highly technical products. Therefore, it’s important to include lots of detail in a footwear tech pack so that you can receive a sample that’s exactly what you want. Remember to keep your manufacturer’s perspective in mind. They can’t read your mind.
Detailed tech packs also help you get more accurate estimates from your manufacturers and materials suppliers. They give a clear picture to manufacturers and help you avoid having to make multiple expensive adjustments to your pre-production shoe samples.
It may seem like a lot of information at first, but all of the above will help make your footwear designs a reality faster.