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Shoe design returning to Boston as a niche industry

  • Published on May 5, 2014
Shoe design returning to Boston as a niche industry

When you think of startups in Boston, you generally think of technology companies and bio-tech firms, but recently there's been a resurgence of shoe design and shoe manufacturing startups in the Boston area. While Boston is already home to major shoe brands including Reebok, Converse, New Balance, and Keds, recently,  several new companies are also starting operations in the area. The Boston Globe chronicled several shoe startups in the area. One company, Forsake, created a line of waterproof sneakers that can endure the same natural elements as boots. Its founders explained to the source that they sought to capture a particular segment of the shoe-buying population with a highly tailored offering.

"We wanted to create a footwear option for young people that don't identify with hiking boots, but still live this outdoor style," Sam Barstow, the 24-year-old mastermind behind the business, told the Globe. 

The Boston Boot Co. is another small brand that opened after its founders discovered a niche need neglected by larger brands. According to the company's website, the boots are specifically for Bostonians, as the shoe's craft matches the rugged terrain of the city. 

Justin Kittredge, the former director of basketball products for footwear at Reebok, left his company to found his own shoe design business, iSlide. The iSlide shoes are sports sandals that can be customized using the customer's choice of graphics.

Using digital tools for shoe design
Digital tools are invaluable resources for professionals working in shoe design. They provide a virtual platform, create concepts, mock-up, render, and finalize creations for production. Common digital tools in shoe design include Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. While creating shoe designs may appear difficult, courses offered at American Graphics Institute can provide you with the skills you need in order to succeed. Shoe designers can take advantage of the latest innovations design software has to offer, including Adobe Photoshop's ability to support 3-D objects and Illustrator's capacity for sketching and coloring new designs. Courses offered by AGI include Adobe Illustrator for Shoe and Footwear Design Training Classes and Photoshop training for shoe developers.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices. Jennifer holds the CPUX-F credential from the UXQB.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern UX Design, and worked closely with the Microsoft Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including XD, Sketch, Balsamiq, Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Blend for Visual Studio. She also works extensively in the fields of presentation design and visual design.