You've got a great concept for a shoe line, now where do you begin? Breaking into the fashion industry with your new shoe line can be a difficult process that involves deciding exactly how your shoes will be manufactured, marketing your shoes and keeping abreast of new trends in the fashion industry. Creating a successful shoe line can take years, but with dedication, practice, and of course, a great product, you can have success in the fashion industry.
Create concept drawings of each shoe in your line. These concept drawings can be hand drawn in full color or created using shoe design software. Regardless of how you draw them, they should be professional and project a unique and stylish shoe style. Print out these designs professionally and put them together into a portfolio.
Manufacture a prototype of some of your best designs. Many shoe manufacturing companies across the country will create single shoe prototypes for upstart designers. Regardless of whether you will be manufacturing this shoe yourself, or licensing it to an established designer, you will need to have prototypes to help sell your product.
Apply for a trademark for your shoe designs before showing your shoes to anyone. This will protect your design from unlawful replication, which will help you in the long run when beginning your shoe line. You can apply for a trademark online (see Resources).
Research the benefits of licensing your shoe to an established design firm versus manufacturing them yourself. With new shoe lines, the decision to license or manufacture is highly subjective. While manufacturing your shoes yourself requires more money up front, this will allow you to have more creative control and receive more profits from your shoe line. Licensing the shoe line may be beneficial to upstart designers because they get more exposure when distributed by a national brand. Analyze the benefits and drawbacks of each trajectory before deciding.
Create a sell sheet to accompany your portfolio and prototypes if you plan on licensing your shoe line. A sell sheet should be professional and upbeat and contain information about your shoe line that will make it attractive to potential designers. Include benefits and unique factors of your shoe line that will increase consumer appeal, a history of your shoe line or your background in shoe or apparel design, and who your target audience is.
Write a query letter, and send it to designers and fashion companies that you think would be interested in carrying your shoe line. Choose designers that carry merchandise of a similar quality and demographic as your shoe line. Request a meeting from these companies. Attend the meetings and pitch your shoe line, then begin negotiations for licensing.
Choose a manufacturer and create a small amount of shoes in varying sizes if you don't want to license your line. Create a website where people can purchase your shoes online. Contact national and local retail stores about carrying your product. Attend fashion trade shows with your product to promote it.