September 22, 2014

Make your own shoes -Chie Mihara’s way

I think it will be wonderful if every footwear designer will share his approach to design, his inspirations and the way he makes shoes. It will give us great opportunity to learn new techniques and ways of design, as I am sure that each designer works differently. That is why  I’m always excited to discover interesting articles or videos about shoe designers, especially if the way they work is opposite to mine.  

When I work on shoe design, I try to find the unique shape of the shoe because I see it as geometrical, architectural object. I just can’t design it as a 2D object just by drawing it on a paper. That’s why for me the color of the shoes is not so important, because first I need to find the form and shape of the shoe that will trigger me and only then I will work on color.

I always design through pattern and that is what I believe in.  This is how I create shoes and this is what I teach in my footwear design course, and this is one of the ways to make your own shoes.

There are many other design approaches, as many as there are designers in the world. Today I want to share with you, how footwear designer Chie Mihara works. It may help many of you to make your own shoes, especially if you are stuck and can’t find the inspiration, or can’t draw exactly what you imagine. She has very interesting and intuitive ways to design shoes.

How to make shoes like Chie Mihara’s

1 When she searches for color combination or shoe shape, she cuts the shoe outlines and places them on the pictures of the magazines. This way she catches interesting color combinations or shapes in the frame of shoe form. This is the same thing when you search for shapes while drawing until you will find the right shape. But here in Chie’s approach, there is a benefit because you will get not only the shape but the color as well. Also if you have difficulty with technical footwear drawing, you can make a perfect drawing of the shoe outline (shoe form) one time and then play with it as you wish, using old pictures, magazines, color palettes.

2.  Another interesting way to find an idea for your shoes that Chie uses is placing pieces of leather on the foot outline made in the real size. This way you can experiment with different leather colors and see the result of their combinations right away. By playing with different forms of leather on this foot pattern, you can find, even accidentally, great idea to make your own shoes.

I experiment with leather almost in the same way. I place leather on the last and manipulate with it on the last until I find the perfect shoe shape. This approach helps me to see the final result right away in the real proportion of the last, more of a 3D look that prevents any surprises.  This shaped leather becomes a part of my pattern, which then I construct without any difficult calculations. This is also one of the ways of Freehand pattern technique, which I teach in my footwear design course.  

3. Mihara places different patterns, pieces of leather, and accessories on her foot and it’s a cool way to discover a shoe design. If it is difficult for you to imagine how your shoe design, which you have drawn on paper, will look on the foot, you can collect your shoes from different pieces and can see how it looks on your own foot.

I myself have a full bag of leather pieces, patterns etc, which growing constantly because I love to manipulate with them on my last to find interesting design solutions. But recently I made an order in my studio and decided to get rid of those bags and now I realize that it was a big mistake!  

Well, at least I did not throw out my old drawings, because I keep all my drawing that I ever did, starting from the university. This is super important to keep all your drawings, sketches, photo inspirations, everything!
 Because you can always find something new in your old stuff, maybe you just didn’t pay attention to this or that detail before.  My advice to you is, to keep it, look through it from time to time, especially when you don’t have ideas to make your own shoes, and you will be surprised how many interesting ideas you have in your ”old staff”.

Enjoy this Chie Mihara video and maybe you will get some ideas for yourself. If you’re passionate about crafting your own shoes but face challenges such as time constraints, unfamiliarity with shoemaking supplies, or budgetary concerns, I invite you to delve into this comprehensive shoemaking article: “How to Make Shoes”.



I hope you got inspired and millions of new ideas popping into your head, which is great.

Now, in the comment below tell me how you look for inspirations to make your shoes? What is your way to make your own shoes? We can learn a lot from each other!

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About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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  1. That was a great video! I wish I can be that creative I am just making things without direction. Still trying to understand the process but this video inspired me to stay focus.

    1. Dear Pete,
      I have seen your work and even the small changes that you do in your shoes indicates creativity. So, don’t think this way it’s all up to you and believe me it’s totally different experience when you find your own way to design and make shoes. I am always ready to talk about design ideas and you know where to find me!


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