How to Manufacture Shoes Samples in a Shoe Factory

A pair of white sneakers

(This picture is from SKECHERS Official Website.)

Shoe samples are an essential part of the shoe industry because they can help clients to make what they have imagined about shoes for a long time come true. If shoes manufacturers can make clients satisfied with shoes samples, it’s a signal that business is coming. Generally speaking, developing shoes samples means that shoes manufacturers(XinDeSheng) try to make shoes according to the new designs of clients. However, shoes samples manufactured basically can not meet the needs of clients at one time. It needs adjustments many times as usual.

As we all know, although it needs to develop shoes samples before mass production, we also have a vague understanding of the process of developing shoes samples. Therefore, if you want to know how to manufacture shoes by shoes manufacturers or shoe factories, you should look through this article!


1. New Shoes Tech Pack from Clients

2. Transfer Tech Pack to Shoes Development Department

3. Open Pattern

4. Look for Outsoles

5. Prepare for Shoes Materials

6.Prototype&Adjust Prototype

7. Cutting Pattern

8. Shoes Techniques in the Vamp

9. Stitching

10. Shoes Inspection&Package

11. Shoes Samples Sent to Clients


Let’s start!

1. New Shoes Tech Pack from Clients

New Shoes Tech Pack drawings

(Recommended reading: What is a technical pack?)

When the shoe factory or shoe manufacturer’s business department receives a new Tech Pack from the clients, they will check it first. After checking, the Tech Pack will be sent to the development department. After receiving the Tech Pack, the development department director will assign it to the corresponding Opening Technician according to the Tech Pack.

Generally, when clients send the Tech Pack, or soon after, shoes manufacturers will receive the shoe lasts for the development of new shoes or receive the original reference shoes and the client’s development SPEC. The details are as follows:


A: Provide the original reference shoes to develop new lasts.

B: Modify the old last to a new last according to the client’s requirements.

C: Directly specify the use of the existing last.

D: The shoes sample last needs to be distinguished by adding the word “SAMPLE” last.

● Reference shoes

A: The original shoes are used as a reference for the upper and bottom structures.

B: The original shoes and color cards provided by clients should be kept properly.

Develop the SPEC

The client’s SPEC will include the following:

A. Design drawing of the new shoes.

B. Detailed requirements for upper and bottom structures.

C. Requirements for upper and bottom materials

After the completion of these three steps, notify the pattern maker to open a paper pattern.

Carefully check the information provided by the clients, whether there is any unclean thing, and whether the information is complete. Consider the structure, method, material and so on of the shoes, and if there is any problem, clarify with the clients in time.

Make a shoes sample schedule

Make the shoes sample request list after receiving the development data. Please update the schedule every Friday (the instruction number should be marked on the plan) and send it to the development and production management. And CC it to the department of purchasing warehouse.

2. Transfer Tech Pack to Shoes Development Department

A pair of white sneakers

(This picture is from NIKE Official Website.)

The information is handed over to the shoes development department after the business department has done all the above. Then the development supervisor will assign a mechanic to take charge of the development as the case may be. The technician will purchase similar soles based on the Tech Pack or the original shoes samples sent by clients.

And the technician shall make the production instruction sheet of shoes samples. The instruction sheet shall include the last, left and right feet, quantity, heel height, shoe height, upper and sole material, the pattern maker’s name, etc. The more detailed the information, the better. Then the technician shall submit it to the supervisor for approval.

Besides, the development salesman should control the development progress of the shoes samples and track the progress of material processing, soles assembly, and the pattern maker and trial production personnel. Any problem should be solved by cooperating with the shoes samples room. The salesman also needs to know the opening pattern and trial making to master the trial progress.

3. Open Pattern

Hand-drawn design sketch of the sole

Generally, the clients will send the shoes last to the shoes manufacturers, or the shoes manufacturers have the existing shoes last so that the ready-made last can be used for the next step looking for outsoles. If there is no shoes last for shoes manufacturers or shoes factory, it is necessary to redevelop the shoes last, and the pattern maker needs to open the shoes last. Please wait for the pattern maker to open it and then see the specific effect for shoes manufacturers. If the shoes last is not suitable, the pattern maker should adjust the pattern structure to open the shoes last again. Pay attention to comparing original shoes when opening patterns, and don’t use the wrong paper pattern.

Here are four common names of paper patterns: 

A. Opening paper pattern                                                                                                                                                      

The paper pattern includes the positions of folding, the combination, and the reverse stitching. The solid paper pattern is the same size as the folded part and does not contain the folding position (less than the folding position of the opening paper pattern).

B.Comparison paper pattern

Some small parts will have a comparison paper pattern, which does not include folding, the combination, and the reverse stitching. (like the size of the toe piece left after the toe cap is assembled, the size of the shoe body trim, the ratio of the strip width, etc.).

C. Composite paper pattern 

Shoes, like sandals and buckles, usually have a composite paper pattern to compare the angle of the pins.

D. Spring paper pattern    

Shoes that need to be shaped are used to compare the spring of the shaped parts. If the toe cap is to be shaped, the toe cap should be fixed first to see its effect, and then the rest of the toe cap.

4. Look for Outsoles

Sole samples of Phylon Outsole material

After the opening pattern, the shoes manufacturers will start looking for the right outsoles. Generally, the shoe factory or shoe manufacturer goes to the outsole factory to see suitable outsoles. If there are no appropriate outsoles, the shoes manufacturers should open the outsole mold. Absolutely, for shoes manufacturers, opening molds is a troublesome process.

First of all, the purchaser needs to find the most suitable outsoles from hundreds of outsoles factories for shoes manufacturers.

Secondly, the QC of the shoe factory or shoes manufacturer needs to choose a suitable outsoles factory to order several pairs of outsoles. It will take a few days to open molds after the outsoles are ordered.

Once the outsoles are opened, the shoes manufacturer or the shoes factory will check whether the outsoles have the same “taste” as the original shoes and then match the outsoles with the last to check whether the length and width of the outsoles are suitable. If not, the QC of the shoe factory or shoes manufacturer will need to reorder the outsoles. If the outsole does not conform to the “taste” of the original shoes again, it is necessary to open the mold again until it meets the “taste” of the original shoes. It’s going to take a few days or a week. Outsoles are very important to shoes samples, so shoes manufacturers must pay attention to them.

5. Prepare for Shoes Materials

Multi-colored shoe materials

Once the QC of shoes factory or shoes manufacturers has found the right outsoles, it’s time to start preparing for materials. The head of the material department will assign personnel to purchase upper materials, including laces, lining, ribbons, etc.                                                                                                                                                             

Purchasers of shoes samples need to go to the material market to find all the uppers, lining materials, and accessories. All materials need to be brought back to the shoes samples shop for inspection. If there are inappropriate materials, the purchasing personnel need to find suitable shoes materials repeatedly. That will take a few days. However, for some unique materials or leather materials, shoes manufacturers may take 1-2 weeks.

After receiving shoes materials, check whether the quantity or accessories are complete according to the list of incoming materials, whether they are damaged or lost during transportation, and then carefully compare with the shoes samples. In addition, for shoes manufacturers, some unique materials cannot be extruded or folded, such as mirror PU or metal PU film, etc. Therefore, great attention should be paid to when storing.

6.Prototype&Adjust Prototype

Grey running shoes

(This picture is from NIKE Official Website.)

After the completion of preparing for shoes materials, the next is the prototype. If there is a problem with the prototype, it needs to modify it.

The prototype should be prepared with all the following items.

A. If the shoes have been modified in one round, prepare the shoes that failed in the previous trial.

B. Original reference shoes.

C. Shoes lasts.

D. Toolkit.

E. It should prepare the new outsoles.

F. Tech Pack.

If the prototype is not perfect, it needs to be modified and retried. The matters to be paid attention to are as follows.

A. When prototypes are manufactured, they should be compared with the original shoes. If there have some differences, shoes manufacturers will immediately call the pattern maker, shoes designer and relevant personnel to discuss the revision.

B. Send the modification requirements to the pattern maker and the shoes samples room. Relevant information will be sent within the same day.

C. When the shoes samples are in production and the materials need to be modified, and the warehouse can release the materials only by informing the shoes samples room in the internal notice.

D. Distribution of paper pattern modification: 1 copy for the pattern maker. The revised contents should be filled in the paper bag by the pattern maker.

E. The schedule of adjusting shoes samples is usually two days. The details shall be completed according to the quantity and delivery date of shoes samples.

7. Cutting Pattern

Shoe sole sample cut after hand-painting

After the previous step is complete, the next step is to cut patterns according to the clients’ specific requirements. The distributing bin based on the needs of shoes samples should arrange neatly the cutting parts that are waiting for processing.

Details are as follows:

Picking materials must be in charge of special personnel and assigned to the staff by the team leader.

When the leather materials are cut, it is better to use blanking machines of GSB-2C hydraulic swing type or XCLP2-250 hydraulic plane type because the leather materials can only be shortened to a single layer.

When cutting nylon cloth and thin PVC leather, it will use the blanking machines of XCLP2-250 hydraulic plane type or XCL-250 hydraulic gantry type because the material is soft and can be cut by multiple layers at a time. 

When cutting the middle soles, it will use the blanking machines of XCLP2-250 hydraulic plane type or XCL-250 hydraulic gantry type because the material is complex and can be cut by multiple layers at a time.

Any parts cut out, especially colored leather and cloth should be done simultaneously, such as quality control inspection, color matching, and quantity counting, to avoid repeated work in the sewing department.

The cutting supervisor should guide the staff to do an excellent job in the daily maintenance of the machine and cutting die.  

The management personnel shall inspect whether the employees are operating according to the instructions and teach the employees how to conduct self-inspect.

The supervisor needs to train employees to know about the materials, and the employees pay attention to the arrangement of cutting knives to reduce unnecessary waste of materials.

Cutting material: The material selection principle is the best material for the toe cap, and the toe cap can not have skin injury and other problems. The second is the shoe’s vamp, then the lining, and some small and inconspicuous positions. 

8. Shoes Techniques in the Vamp

Red, blue and gray sneakers

(This picture is from PUMA Official Website.)

After all the shoes materials have been approved in the shoes samples shop, the QC needs to order the correct outsole color based on the upper materials. At the same time, the workers of the shoes manufacturer or shoe factory will cut the upper materials and then send them to the auxiliary material factory for the shoes vamp process, that is, technical processing, such as printing, debossing, embossing, or silicon printing. Usually, there cannot be completed correctly at one time for printing, embossing, or other shoes vamp techniques, so the QC needs to go to different auxiliary material factories several times to achieve perfection. See this article for details on the shoes vamp techniques:11 Common Manufacturing Techniques Applied To Shoes Vamp.

9. Stitching

Hand-painted stitching shoe parts

After completing all shoes vamp techniques, the quality and statistics of all shoes vamp components must be properly sorted and ready to be delivered to the shoes samples shop.

Stitching details are as follows:

Peel the shoes samples according to the folding position. Peel them smoothly and thinly without any marks. The width of the counter is 10 mm, and the thickness is 0.1 mm.

Print shoes sample instruction number according to shoes samples and shoes samples list.

Compare the color and thickness of the shoes samples with the original shoes first, then check the stitching on the materials, and then check the effect of oiling and no-oiling with stitching. If the result is the same as the original shoes. It can stitch shoes samples.

The lines should be adjusted well. It can’t burst the line, float the line and jump the needle. It can’t be too tight and wrinkle the shoe’s vamp. The shoes vamp can’t have threads and can’t show pinholes. 

For the folding position, fold a piece first to see the effect and compare the original shoes to see if the thickness is the same. If the peeling is not done correctly, it must return to the peeling group and redo.

Reverse stitching: check the effect of the reverse stitching and compare the original shoes to see whether the thickness is the same; if the peeling is not in place, it must return to the peeling group for re-cutting.

The center point should be aligned, the size and height of each part of the shoe’s vamp should be the same as that of the original shoes, and the punching size of the shoe’s vamp should be the same as that of the original shoes.

For shoes with reverse collars, it should pay attention to the height of the reverse collar, and the number of the exposed lining should be the same as the original shoes.

Where there is foam, the thickness of the foam should be the same as the original shoes.

The width of the double line or decorative line should be the same as the original shoes.

The locking should be stitched tightly, and there should be the same as the original shoes about the height of the locking and several stitches of the locking.

The shoe eyes should not be high or low, and they should be smooth.

The cutting position should not be burred or exposed, and the place to be painted should not pollute other parts of the shoe’s vamp.

Buttons should be made firmly so as not to peel paint.

Nylon reinforcement should be added to the position where the buckle passes through to increase the tension.

Before and after brushing and pasting the counter, there should be 8-9mm between the counter and the upper. The radian of the counter and the upper should be consistent, and the counter should not be pasted empty. The counter and the upper or the lining should be firmly glued and cannot be peeled off. The width of the counter should be cut 10mm and thin to 0.1mm. If it is too thick, it will be returned to the peeling group before it is pasting.

The shoes vamp should be clean without lines, threads, and glue. The lining should be smooth, and there should be no wrinkles on the shoe’s vamp.

Record the problems found in the production on the trial report.

The stitching supervisor should review the shoes samples, shoes vamp, shoes samples list, operation instruction, and trial report and then these are submitted to the shoes samples room.

10. Shoes Inspection&Package

Grey casual shoes

(This is from ADIDAS Official Website.)

After finishing the sewing, the shoes samples are to be sent to the shoes samples for inspection. And the inspector will check if there are any problems, such as inspecting whether the size of the two shoes is the same, whether the inner lining is clean, and whether there are stains on shoes vamps. For specific quality control problems, you can take few minutes to look through the article: How To Address Quality Control Defects In Shoes.

After the inspection of quality control personnel and technicians,  if there is no problem, the staffs of a shoes factory or shoes manufacturer need to sort out the shoes samples. Besides, they also check the quantity to be sent, pack the shoes sample well, and then send them to the clients.

11. Shoes Samples Sent to Clients

Green shoe samples

(This is from ADIDAS Official Website.)

After completing the above steps, shoes manufacturers(XinDeSheng Shoe factory) can send the shoes samples to the clients for confirmation. However, before sending the shoes samples to clients for confirmation, we need to discuss whether the shoes samples meet our requirements in the trial meeting, including the shoes materials, vamp and sole, data, taste, operation, etc. The minute recorder should take note of all the problems.

After the shoes samples are sent to the clients, shoes manufacturers can proceed to the next step after the client’s reply. If the clients do not have adjustments, shoes manufacturers can wait for them to order shoes. If the designer of the clients advises on modification, shoes manufacturers will make specific operations. After the change, the shoes samples shall be sent to the clients’ designer for confirmation again. After that, if the shoes samples still have some problems to modify, they shall be adjusted again and again until the clients’ designer is satisfied.

If you have OEM&ODM shoemaking needs, you can contact us!

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