Having never been to China before this trip was a completely new experience for me, fortunately I had a guide, Levy, who was kind enough to take me to 3 shoe factories where the product could potentially be manufactured in.
We arrived at Shenzhen railway station at 10am to get the bullet train to Humen and then a taxi to the Guangdong province. The first factory we visited was Dingfeng, it was in a small place surrounded by construction works and bamboo scaffolding. As we entered there were many different types of shoes being manufactured from knock off Alexander McQueen trainers to studded leather boots. At this factory they specialise in custom designs and small batches as the factory did not have many workers and only one production line but it was incredibly insightful to see how the pattern of the material is cut and stitched together.
We then stopped off at McDonald’s for a quick bite to eat before being picked up by Kai Chuang shoe company. Here they make shoes designed for our favourite high street brands including river island, topshop and newlook. On the production line they were making red converse looking trainers and simple black leather smart mens shoes. Here we saw how a fast production line works from cutting the pattern to placing it around the last (foot mold) and applying the sole and uppers of the shoe. At this factory they do everything from the design to the packing of the final product.
My views on manufacturing in China has completely changed and it definitely has given me the confidence for the next steps.
The last factory called Aimeicheng had a great selection of shoes to show us and are also in the process of manufacturing another type of adaptable heel designed for women to fold the heel in to drive more easily. They even showed us their mechanism and how they dealt with the movement in the sole of the shoe (which I don’t think they were allowed to do) but unfortunately we didn’t get to see their production line.
The whole day was very insightful and has definitely supported the design development of the product. Keep updated with our latest posts by signing up and follow us on Instagram @y_heels