I have a Degree in Merchandise Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. A passion for fashion stays with you.
The hardest part about designing shoes on CHIKO Shoes is making decisions when you have so many choices available to choose from! Let me tell you, I had so much fun messing around on CHIKO Shoes while writing this article, you're going to love it. We will cover how to design you own shoes, starting from the sketch and ending with submitting your design for a prototype quote in four easy steps.
How to Free Hand Shoe Sketch
How to Illustrate Your Sketch
Step 1: Create the Illustration
At CHIKO Shoes, you can either design your shoes with your own sketch, or you can design your shoe from already designed shoes.
When you sketch and illustrate your shoe by hand, you are completely free to creatively express your ideas. It's a lot of fun being able to put your ideas to paper. Once you have your design sketched and illustrated, you can being to choose the materials you would like for your shoes.
What if I don't know how to sketch?
It's still possible to design your own shoes, even if you don't have any fashion illustrating experience. CHIKO Shoes has made enough shoes to be able to understand the idea of what you want from a rough sketch. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it does have to show the ideas that you're trying to get across. If you're not confident with your illustration skills, you might want to consider using CHIKO's speedy prototype orders at their online store.
There is another option to creating shoe illustrations without free-handing them.
If you're designing a shoe without custom made shoe parts, CHIKO Shoes provides a "speedy prototype orders" at their online store. You can find this menu by clicking on the CHIKO Store button and then on the Prototype or Bespoke button under the menu Catagories on the left-hand side of the page. You will have five different shoe types to choose from. Once you choose the type of shoe you would like, you can then select the heel type, heel finish, color, fabrics and embellishments of your shoe.
What is bespoke?
In the fashion industry, bespoke is a completely customized and tailored piece, entirely unique to the owner and crafter. If you want your own, unique, designed by you shoes, you can order bespoke from CHIKO Shoes. CHIKO Shoes provides a comparison chart for prototypes and bespokes.
3 Easy Steps to Designing Shoes from Inspiration on CHIKO Shoes
You can also design your shoes by using pictures of already created shoes. You do this by:
- Converting a photo into a sketch: From the CHIKO Shoes homepage, click one of the two tabs that says Design Your Own Shoes. You can also scroll down the homepage and click the Start button on the right-hand side of the page. Scroll down the page until you see the two options, Free Hand Sketch Fashion Shoes and Design Your Own Shoes with Inspiration. Click the Design Your Own Shoes with Inspiration button. Under the heading Easy Start, click the link titled Start Convert. A new window will open where you can upload the picture you wish to use. You can upload photos from a file on your computer, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr or a web URL. After you have uploaded your photo, click the Continue button in the bottom middle of the page. The next page will be a pencil sketch of your photo.
- Modifying your sketch either by hand, by using the CHIKOShoes' online sketch pad, or by using your favorite design software: I used their online sketch pad to create the illustration below. Save your pencil sketch photo to your computer. Open it in your favorite design software, or you can modify your sketch by using their online sketch pad. To use their online sketch pad, once you have your sketch, close the sketch conversion window. To the right of the title, Design You Own Shoes with Inspiration, you will see three links highlighted in blue. Click the Create Your Own link. On this page, you will see an Open Sketch Pad link. Once you open the sketch pad, you can upload your photo by mousing over the File button and the clicking the Open file. From here, modify your shoe to be your own special design. Be sure to save your design before closing the sketch pad window.
- Upload your sketch to CHIKO Shoes for a prototype quote. Once you have your design saved to your computer, you can upload it to CHIKO Shoes and they will send you a prototype quote. From the How to Design Your Own Shoes from Inspiration page, click the link titled Upload Your Design Package. From this page, you will be able to either upload your design for a prototype quote or order bespoke. Note that you will need to have all the information ready, including the heel type, colors and materials, before you submit your design for a quote.
Step 2: Choose a Heel
Once you've completed your illustration, you're ready to select a heel from the hundreds of options on CHIKO Shoes. To get to the Heels menu, scroll down to the bottom of Design Your Own Shoes page. Here, you will see six menus of options to choose from.
To browse and select the heels for your shoe, click on the Heels menu on the left side of the page. From here, you will have two options to choose from, Trendy Heel Collection or Regular Heel Collection. When you click on either of these links, a new window will open with a catalogue of heels. The catalogues are high quality, so they might be a little slow to open.
The heels in the catalogues are only part of the CHIKO Shoes collection. If you don't find what you are looking for, or you are unsure which would be best for your shoe, CHIKO Shoes can recommend a heel for you by having you forward them the design sketch.
Once you select a heel, make a note of the model number and the back height. You will need to enter this information when submitting your design for prototyping. You will also need to know the heel finish, which you can see on the first page of the regular heel catalogue.
Step 3: Choose Your Materials and Colors
After you have chosen which heel you would like to use on your shoe, you can then select the materials and colors of your shoes. When you are in the Design Your Own Shoes pages of the website, you can always scroll down to the bottom of the page and the six menus of options will be available.
When you click on the Leather & Fabric menu, you can see high-quality photos of the types of fabrics you can choose from. Make note of which you would like to use. Different parts of your shoes may have different types of fabrics, so keep track of all the parts.
Click on the Color Chart menu to select the colors for your shoes. When the color chart page opens, you will have two options: Find Your Color with Color Slider and RBG Color Chart. The color chart will show you different blocks of colors to choose from. With the color slider, you basically mix your own color by sliding the red, green and blue color sliders. Note the color numbers for when you submit your design for prototyping.
Note: Colors can vary by your monitor's resolution and graphic settings. The colors charts are intended to be a guide only.
More Embellishment Options From Chiko Shoes
- Swarovski Elements: In this menu, you can see a crystal color chart if you would like to add Swarovski elements to your shoes. You can select any type and any setting for your elements.
- Shoe Embellishments: This menu gives you a variety of brooches and embellishments you can add to your design. Don't forget to take note of the embellishment number.
- Rivets and Studs: All kinds of rivets and studs can be added to your design. Click on this menu to see some of your options.
Step 4: Upload Your Design and Design Details
When you have your sketch and all of the elements of your design chosen, it's time to upload your design to CHIKO Shoes for a quote. When you are ready to upload your design, click on the Prototype menu. This page has tons of helpful information when it comes to designing your shoe. You'll notice that there are a number of boxes on the left-hand side with links to information. Scroll down until you see the box titled Ask for a Quote and click on the Upload Your Design link. This will open a form that you will need to fill out that will contain all of your design information, your sketch and your logo, if you would like your logo stamped on your shoe
After you upload your design to CHIKO Shoes, you're done! It takes approximately 5 weeks to produce your shoe.
How Much Do CHIKO Shoes Cost?
The cost of your shoes varies depending on the materials used, the complexity of the design, exchange rates and labor costs. Rough estimates are show below.
The cost to have a prototype or bespoke made range from $400-$1600USD. Sandals are the least costly and thigh high boots are the most expensive.
Bulk Price Estimates
Because the material usage and amount of labor involved is unknown before the prototype is finished, CHIKO Shoes isn't able to provide the bulk production price before the first prototype is finished. After the prototype details are confirmed, the accurate production price will be provided.
Following are some price estimates for reference.
- Sandals/Flats/Pumps: $30-$90USD per pair
- Bootie/Boots: $50-$120USD per pair
- Thigh High Boots $80-$200 per paid
Bulk Order Discount
You can shop and purchase individual shoes from CHIKO Shoes. If you wish to purchase shoes in bulk, the discounts are as follows:
- 5 - 9 pairs: 10% discount of total amount
- 10 - 19 pairs: 20% discount of total amount
- 20 - 29 pairs: 30% discount of total amount
- 30 pairs and more: 40% discount of total amount
If you wish, you can purchase private label from CHIKO Shoes and have them stamp the shoes you want with your logo.
Design Your Dream Shoes
Through CHIKO Shoes, you can design your shoes any way you like. They have excellent tools available to help you turn your vision into reality. Even if you don't see what you want on their site, they will work with you and customize whatever you need. Now, have fun and go create your dream shoes!
- Design Your Own Shoes Custom Made Shoes From Scratch - CHIKO Shoes
Design your own shoes from scratch. Custom made shoes with your own sketch. Private labeled shoes with your own logo. Prototype and bulk produce your own shoes.
Berry on January 13, 2020:
I can't find the design link. I go to Chiko's website and I can't find the tabs mentioned in this article. Is this old? Do they not do custom shoes anymore?
sage on January 06, 2017:
how is the quality of their shoes?
Jenna Estefan (author) from Seattle, WA on April 14, 2013:
Patrichia - I'm glad to hear you had a good experience with them!
Patrichia on April 14, 2013:
Worked with them last year, very nice team. Had a lot of fun!
Jenna Estefan (author) from Seattle, WA on November 24, 2012:
I'm glad you liked it! It is such a great website and so much fun, especially for shoe-aholics :)
Alison Graham from UK on November 24, 2012:
This is amazing - I am going to send the link to my friend who is a shoe-aholic (!!) - I never knew such a site existed! Thanks for an interesting read.
Jenna Estefan (author) from Seattle, WA on November 22, 2012:
Thanks! It sounds difficult to design and produce your own shoes, but this website makes the entire process super easy and lots of fun. Thanks for reading.
Jessica Peri from United States on November 22, 2012:
This is an interesting website! I'm not very big into designing shoes, but to know that something like this exists is still exciting. Voted up and interesting!