I’m really passionate about people and brands trying new things, pushing the boundaries and truly innovating with textiles, techniques and technology. I also love it when people collaborate and create great things together. So, the idea of a website that offers pretty much anyone the opportunity to collaborate and design their own shoes, have them manufactured in Italy, and then be available for sale, sounds pretty interesting to me! A sort of crowdfunding shoe design service, with no upfront investment required either.
I came across Alive Shoes when Dominique Jordan Tweeted me recently with details of his shoes that have just been completed, gone live and are for sale on the site. I took a closer look and was really intrigued by the process, including how he went from successful author and teacher to shoe designer.
Alive Shoes is an independent, international organisation based in one of the most world’s most recognisable and reputable regions for shoe manufacture – Le Marche in Italy, also known as ‘Shoe Valley’. Through the coming together of a wealth of experience (one of the founders comes from a long line of Italian shoemakers) in design, production, marketing and technology, they seem to have created what could be the perfect collaborative platform for small batch shoe production with big brand potential (and great design of course!).
Dominique explained how the process of designing his first shoes worked for him….
- First you apply to be a designer, so they can check if you’re really serious about wanting to design a great product and what drives you creatively, your motivation, background etc.
- Once they’ve approved you as a designer you create an account
- You’re asked what you want your brand to be called and if it’s cause-related – linked to a sport, project, campaign etc.
- You then create a two line slogan about your brand to get customers interested
- You select how many shoes you want your limited edition to sell from between 15-100, the choice is yours
- You then choose a template for your shoe design – high heels, tennis shoes, boat shoes, pretty much any type you like
- You then select the materials, for the outer, the laces, soles etc.
- Next you select your logo, labels and packaging
- Once everything is completed, your shoe is reviewed by those who run the company, the process usually take around 24 hours, and once it’s approved, you can start to sell online
- You then create your own online shop and mobile site, hosted on the main site
- For each pair you sell you get up to £15 profit
- It’s up to you to spread the word about your shoes and how to buy them on the site. Dominique says Alive Shoes have really supportive staff though who will give you information and pointers to help you do this.
- If you get 7 pre-orders of your shoes within 30 days your shoes go into production
- Customers receive the shoes within 4-6 weeks and you receive your prototype for free
- You can unlock marketing and design bonuses the more you sell and when you reach 150 sales your brand is featured in Alive Shoes ad campaigns in publications like Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair
- When you reach 200 sales you will be an official portfolio designer and will be invited to Italy for an acceleration programme and will be able to design your own models and access international distribution
To date on the site 65731 shoes have been designed by 25757 designers from 35 different countries.
Dominique’s shoes are called the DomJo, are high top sneakers and include his two favourite colours – green and yellow. You can see and buy them here
A fair few of the designs on the site to date are high-tops, basketball shoes and sneakers, but there are some high heels and a few other designs available too.
There’s no start-up investment required and you can take advantage of the skills and resources of people who seem to really know what they’re doing. You just have to be pretty committed to your design and be proactive when it comes to promoting your shoes.