How to Create a Shoe Line

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Shoes are big business. High-quality designer shoes have always been popular with buyers. Those with a unique shoe design can take it from concept to production and grab a piece of the market, by creating a line of shoes.

Start with the design. You'll want to draw each of the shoes you plan to carry in your shoe line. The illustrations should be full-color professional illustrations that represent the shoes accurately. All fashion designs begin with a set of color illustrations. These illustrations are what you will use to sell your line of shoes to someone who can help you bring your shoe line from concept to completion.

Decide whether you want to license your shoe line or manufacture it yourself. These approaches are very different, both in the cost to you up front and the potential return on your shoe line. Licensing your shoe line means that another company pays you for a license to manufacture and sell your shoe line. The shoe line bears your name, but the company that purchases a license will also stamp its name on your shoes. Licensing benefits you because the manufacturing process, including the cost of factory set-up, materials and labor, is the responsibility of the company licensing the shoe line. Depending upon the licensing contract, you could be paid a flat fee for licensing rights or you may get a percentage of sales. If you manufacture the product yourself, the cost of doing so will fall directly upon you, but the profits could be potentially larger in the long run.

Create a sell sheet. If you want to license your shoe line, you're going to have to sell your shoe line concept to a company that has the facilities and capital to turn your concept into reality. This is where your initial concept drawings come into play. Those drawings, along with a strong sales pitch, are what will land you a lucrative licensing deal. The sell sheet should contain detailed information about the quality and design of your shoe line and describe a target market. Include information about special benefits that might give your shoe line an advantage in the marketplace. Once you've developed your pitch, write query letters to the top shoe companies. Give brief background information about yourself and a brief description of your shoe line, then request a meeting to fully present your business proposition.

Attend fashion trade shows if you intend to manufacture your shoe line on your own. You'll need a prototype of your shoes to display at a fashion trade show. Fashion trade shows are a good way to generate early interest in your shoe line. Consult a fashion trade show listings database (see Resources) or keep an eye on major fashion magazines for upcoming fashion events. Promoting your shoe line to the fashion industry movers and shakers is important.

Apply for trademark or patent protection (see Resources) before you present your shoe line to anyone, or before entering into any type of contract. The application will cost $325, but it will protect you in the event your shoe line is claimed by another party.