How Rachel Simpson shoes are made. Part One- Design, colours and materials

Rachel Simpson

Posted on September 13 2021

How Rachel Simpson shoes are made. Part One- Design, colours and materials


We are passionate about how are shoes are made. It doesn't matter how beautiful a pair of shoes look if they don't feel just as good or fit well. Making shoes is a highly complex process with an incredible number of steps to get them from concept to reality. Over the next few weeks we're going to take you on that journey and show you how a pair of Rachel Simpson shoes is made.

So let's start at the beginning- design. Before we get to making the shoe we of course have to design it! People often ask where the inspiration for our designs comes from- it's a great question but actually quite tricky to answer! The truth is it's a real mix of looking at what's trending (both in bridal and fashion), talking to our customers (we love your feedback), a good sprinkling of vintage inspiration...but mainly just from the ideas in our heads. We like to think this varied combination gives our shoes their unique signature style!

Whilst many designers work directly on screen, we're pretty old school here at Rachel Simpson and every idea starts with good old fashioned pencil and paper! There's something really fluid about sketching which makes it easier to get ideas down as they appear, and really brings them to life. Once we've got an idea of what we're going for, we produce a large number of thumbnail sketches- quick drawings which show different ideas without being too neat and tidy. 

From here we come to understand the ideas we like the most and select our favourites, which we'll then work and rework (and rework again!) until we're totally happy with the design. It can take a while to perfect the final drawing, particularly for some of our more intricate designs. We'll often draw on a 3D form too (the shoe last covered in paper tape) before committing the design to 2D, so we can really understand how all the pieces are going to fit together. Once the pencil drawing is complete we'll ink it in with pen and scan it into the computer, ready for rendering.

Rachel Simpson shoe design

We use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to render our designs and try out different colour and material combinations. This part is really fun as we drop different colours in and the design really starts to come to life on screen. This is also where we add all the details of the design- they're kind of like an architect's blue print- they need to show our factory exactly how we want the design to work. This includes exact dimensions as well as all the intricate stitch detail which form part of the Rachel Simpson signature style!

Rachel Simpson shoes design

All our leather, suede and fabric suppliers are also in the Alicante region of Spain, nice and close to the factory! They work even further ahead than designers on forthcoming trends and develop lots of new colours and materials every season, so choosing the final colours to sample in is pretty tricky! We add the material references to each individual spec, so the factory know which supplier each material comes from. 

Rachel Simpson leather and suede swatches

Once the design specs are complete and we're happy with the collection, we send them off to our factory where the first stop is to the modellist to develop the patterns...

Keep an eye out for part two of this series and in the meantime click here to check out the people who make Rachel Simpson shoes.

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