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Behind the scenes - the process of shoe design in a pair of Yvonne Liao shoes

In my earlier blog I talked about some of the inspirations that influence my shoe designs. This week, I want to delve a little more into the story behind one of my designs for my upcoming first capsule collection coming out next spring/summer.

First of all, who wears my shoes?

When I think about my shoes and the urban women, Beyonce’s song “Run the World (Girls)” and lyrics come thumping energetically into my mind:

Who runs the world? Girls

Who runs the world? Girls


This goes out to all the women getting it in, you on your grind To all the men that respect what I do, please accept my shine Boy, you know you love it How we smart enough to make these millions Strong enough to bear the children (children) Then get back to business

The modern woman is a tough cookie. She is a superwoman who wears the invisible cape and runs the world. She is a courageous woman who is not afraid to speak her mind, take up new challenges and blaze new trails into uncharted territories.

She is a brilliant multi-tasker who holds a full-time job, hits the gym, walks the dog, orders groceries, cooks for the family, cleans the house, takes care of her boyfriend/husband’s, parents’ and children’s daily schedules (and the list can go on and on), and still makes time to remember to pick up birthday presents and attend her girlfriends’ parties – juggling all on one plate while trying to make everything look seamless, and at the same time look good in a comfortable and fashionable pair of shoes that she can wear from day to night.

With this superwoman in mind, my first capsule collection consists of 3-5 comfortable sandals and flats that women can wear comfortably from day to night, anywhere, anytime.

My creative process

An important part to my creative process is to sketch out my designs. This process allows me to further think about the finer details, such as adding specific embellishment, shoemaking technique, or finishing that can be added to the design. I also collect images of footwear which serve as additional inspirations and inform me of the current trends that I can incorporate into my designs.

After sketching out my designs and refining my ideas (see sketch of my first design below), I then carve out time to make my first prototype. Some people might ask, why do you want to go through the extra trouble of making your own shoes? Why don’t you work with a designer and factory directly and produce your prototype samples instead?

My design sketch and notes for the first pair of sandals in my design. Some questions I ask myself are: what is the most comfortable way to design a strap or closing? What is the easiest way for women to wear this pair of shoes? Where and when are they going to wear these shoes?

The almost completed first prototype

Here’s where I am different from other shoe designers – I enjoy the process of shoemaking. This additional step is a very therapeutic process for me in two ways – first, it allows me to be in the ‘zone’, or in the state of flow. The mistakes I encounter in this process allow me to kink out potential production problems and further improve the design before finalizing the design with my production partner. For example, for this first pair of sandals I actually had to stop the first prototype halfway and start all over again because I did not add an additional midsole layer to support the cushion foam.

Second, I like to wear the shoes to test them out to see if they are comfortable and durable. It allows my friends and family to offer their opinion on my designs and further improve them before I finalize my designs. I might choose to skip this step in the future if I know what designs and materials are comfortable, but in the meantime, I think it is important to get the shoes right before working with my production partner in making an actual sample.

Who are the superwomen in your life? What are your thoughts about this sandal design? Thank you for reading this blog.

Please subscribe to my website if you enjoy reading this article. Next week, I will share more behind the scenes in the making of this sandals.

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