The first sample came back for the next ARCH shoe. After my daughter and I came up with what we thought was the perfect blend of athletic and casual I knew I had to cross my fingers and hope for the best since paying for the sample meant I was at the mercy of the manufacturer. Now, I’m always positive about everything, but at this moment waiting for the pictures is like pulling teeth to get all of the minutiae right. Like I said, I tried to stay positive, but I take full blame for not specifying the materials and type of mesh. The outcome was, as usual, less than what I wanted for the shoe design. The worst part is getting the contact to take pictures instead of photoshopping the shoes at different angles. The contact is like Stewie on Family Guy asking for his money:
The manufacturer automatically goes for cheap materials. It’s like they don’t realize the closer to what I designed means the faster I will send the money. Instead they never fail to create my samples with the polyester/mesh that is on the picture you see at the top of the page. I wanted what is basically an air mesh (the material next to this paragraph). A very fine small vented mesh that makes the upper appear seamless. This polyester 4 mm hex styled is terrible and not at all what I wanted for the sample. On top of that I wanted flat laces, but this sample features round laces. The worst part is that my cut on the suede toebox was about half an inch and my shoe is designed as a mid, not a low cut shoe. Once again, I didn’t specify. I relied on the picture to convey what my intentions were. You can see clearly on the picture above that they made a traditional toebox with about an inch wide cut. It makes the shoe look bulky and orthopedic. One subtle change in the height of the suede makes it a completely different design.
The worst part is that I don’t have the dough to make the next sample so we would have to go into production and I have to hope that all of my changes are updated. These are the small details that no one talks about when a company is small and funding is low. You come up with a dope concept, but execution is out of your hands if you’re not doing the cutting and sewing or placing the upper on the last. It’s frustrating, but it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t show you the progress good or bad. So in the original design above you see in the smaller detailed picture I added the logo word ARCH on the heel counter with the explanation that it was to go across the back of the shoe in black and embroidered. What did the manufacturer do? They made it exactly as I placed it in the picture. This is on me as I got lazy and only drew the side of the shoe. In my original sketch I drew the top and heel but I assumed that the factory would use both pictures. As a former coach I know that you never assume.
Here you get a really good look at everything that is wrong with the design. Note the heel isn’t rounded off at all. The height of the shoe is a low cut which completely diminishes the design aesthetics. The mesh is ridiculous and the toebox looks bulky as opposed to streamlined. The leather is a PU and not actually leather at the midfoot and they used a white stitch. The easy part is to chalk up my losses on the sample because the money isn’t long and I really need another sample made. I’m not even having this shipped because it’s pointless. In the last month or so I’ve been contacted by a couple of shoe companies about working with them. I was hesitant to do so, because I really wanted to give ARCH another run. As it stands, I simply don’t have the capital and I can’t continue to be as risky in my endeavors as I was in the past.
Let’s take a count of what’s wrong:
- The toebox is cut incorrectly. It’s too wide.
- The medial and lateral leather arch is made of a cheap PU.
- The design of the shoe as a mid is wrong. It’s cut as a low top when the design clearly shows the height of the shoe.
- The laces are round instead of flat.
- The heel counter should be rounded, not cut to form a peak at the back of the collar.
- The use of a polyester, open mesh was just lazy.
- The pull tabs are too small and not at all big enough to easily place your finger in to pull.
Although I submitted the changes that need to be done (note the white line in the picture), there isn’t any way that I can in good conscious go into production with the prayer that the shoe will be produced to my liking. That is the definition of insanity. If you’re wondering why the sample was so wrong the easy answer is I designed a midsole that was more exaggerated and taller. This gave my angles a completely different movement. My sketch vs the reality simply reminds me that I can’t really take on the financial risk and responsibility. I didn’t even show you the tongue patch which they didn’t even take the time to make square:
I’m taking my talents to South Beach. Which means I’m open to employment opportunities as a consultant and I will start returning the phone calls and messages. It doesn’t suck and it’s not a last resort. It just means that I’m shifting gears and in business everyday is a downshift or an upshift; it all depends on the size of the mountain or how quickly you go downhill and I’m cool with that.