"Never underestimate the power of a shoe."

- Giuseppe Zanotti


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Development & Production

What is prototyping and sample making?

Prototyping and sample making refers to the development of new styles.
It involves creating products and shoe collections based on new designs and specifications. The designs can be provided by you (if you are an experienced shoe designer) or ask our Design Team to help interpreting your ideas and get production-ready sketches.
Only after the prototyping and sample making phase is complete, production (of the bulk order) can start.

What is needed to start the prototyping process?

For development of new designs, what you need to get started are detailed sketches and production ready tech-packs.

If you have an initial idea or sketch but do not have the technical know-how to translate those sketches into a production ready tech-pack, then our in-house design team can help to recreate the sketch and make it production ready.
This process would not only give us the exact specifications to get started but also provide you with a more accurate preview of how the shoe would look like in real life. You can ask for more information via Contact Us.

How much does prototyping cost?

The cost varies depending on complexity of design, materials chosen, hardware and embellishments (if any), or if particular shoemaking techniques are necessary.


As a general rule, prototyping and sample making can be in the range 1,000 to 3,000 Euro per style.

What am I paying for? What does the cost include?

Prototyping and sample making comprises of:

  • Design analysis ⇒ In-depth study of your design and specifications down to the smallest detail, ensuring no misunderstandings and misinterpretations happens between designer and shoemaker
  • Extensive materials sourcing ⇒ no single supplier reliance. ISM is connected with the best Italian leather suppliers, tanneries, sole makers, hardware makers, jewelry makers, etc.
  • Shoe last and pattern making ⇒ Modifications of existing shoe lasts and new shoe lasts development
  • Sample making ⇒ Production of prototypes and final samples
  • Sample shipping
  • English/Italian support via email, voice/video call, throughout the process
  • A dedicate project manager who will be looking after the full process, available via email or phone

What is the lead time for prototyping and sampling?

For new designs and custom styles, we prototype and make the product for the first time. Technical challenges may arise during this process as the product is being built and tested, potentially requiring several iterations to meet the expected looks and quality. For this reason, the timelines we provide are estimates and need to be taken as an indication only.
In general, it is necessary to allow approximately 9-12 weeks (depending on the design) from the finalisation of the tech pack to sample delivery.
New businesses creating their first collection tend to need more time as they learn how the sampling process evolves and how their feedback influences the sample iterations.
Please be aware that factories and workshops in Italy are not operational for approximately 2-3 weeks in the month of August and 2 weeks across the New Year.

Lastly, if you are planning a collection launch, an exhibition or a marketing campaign, we recommend to schedule such events only after you received the products. There may be many factors bringing to delays, linked and not linked to manufacturing, i.e. a last minute issue in the finalisation of the products requiring re-make, shipping delays, destination Country holding up the products at the Customs, etc.
As you repeat this process twice or more times, lead times will become more clear.

Can prototyping costs be waived if I am placing a production order?

Established brands placing a production order of 1,000 pairs or above can have prototyping  costs reduced or deducted from the production order.

For smaller orders (below 500 pairs), the order investment will not cover for prototyping costs therefore these are required upfront.

What is the price range per pair for production orders?

Production prices are aligned with the best Italian shoemaking while supporting ethical labour.

For an order placed at MOQ, a guideline range is 60-120 Euro per pair, excluding sophisticated designs, custom metal hardware, embellishments or use of exotic materials.

What is the minimum order quantity?

The minimum order quantity (or MOQ) depends on many factors, such as the shoe design, the shoe last utilized, the materials, custom components in rubber or metal, etc.
Therefore, providing an MOQ without a complete tech pack assessment may lead to inaccuracy.

As a general guideline, for new styles created on your specifications, the production MOQ is 100 pairs per style, inclusive of different sizes and up to 2 colours within this range.

In exceptional cases, MOQ can go as low as 50 per style, with an approximate price increment of 15-20% in the price per pair.

Note: when we get a new style (i.e. newly developed designs) into production, there are fixed costs to bear and the lower the order volume, the higher the impact of the fixed costs on the price per unit.

What is the lead time for production orders?

Going from samples to bulk order implies an industrialisation process. Often prototypes and samples are made at a dedicated sampling workshop, whereas production takes place in one or more factories suited for streamlined work. When we bring an item to production, fine-tuning and adjustments of the production lines and tools are necessary. Therefore it is normal that the 1st production can take longer than the subsequent ones, due to the fine-tuning process happening in the beginning.
The estimation is 9-12 weeks lead time for a production order (depending on the design and order volume).  After the 1st production order is completed, lead times become more tangible, therefore a more precise commitment on delivery dates can be made.

Please note that factories and workshops in Italy are not operational for approximately 2-3 weeks in the month of August and 2 weeks across the New Year.

Lastly, please take into account potential logistic issues that may impact timelines and are outside our control. For example: shipping delays, Customs at the destination Country holding up the products for further checks, etc.

Can I obtain ready-made product samples?

We normally do not hold stock as we design & produce collections for private label brands.
If you would like to receive a physical sample, you may take advantage of our prototyping and sample making services.


What are the available packaging options to the end products?

ISM offers 3 levels of packaging service with increased customization:


Standard (no logo customization)

DescriptionOne-off setup costAdd-on cost per unitMOQ
Shoe box: standard mono-colour box, glossy. Choice between white or black colour. No logo prints. Small white label displaying brand name, style name and sizeNoneNone
Shoe box: standard mono-colour box, matte. Choose between white or black colour. No logo prints. Small white label displaying brand name, style name and sizeNone2.5€50
Non-woven shoe bag (dust bag). Choice between white or black colour. No logoNone1.2€50
Raw cotton shoe bag (dust bag). Choice between white or black colour. No logoNone1.5€300
Brushed cotton shoe bag (dust bag). Choice between white or black colour. No logoNone2.2€500
Small cotton bag for laces or small hardware. Choice between white or black colour. No logoNone0.8€50


Custom (with logo customization)

DescriptionOne-off setup costAdd-on cost per unitMOQ
Shoe box: mono-colour, glossy or matte. Logo mono-colour printed on top of the shoe box (on lid). Small white label displaying brand name, style name and size900€3.0€500
Brushed cotton shoe bag (dust bag) with Logo print mono-colour300€2.8€500
Shoe Horn (for Men’s shoes and sneakers) in metal, gold, copper or silver colour, with Logo printed in black on metal300€4.8€500
Paper card (11x10cm) with a custom message of your choice. It can be used to certify the product is Made in Italy by qualified artisans (or similar type of message)200€0.5€500

Note: the above options can be opted-in or opted-out individually.



DescriptionOne-off setup costAdd-on cost per itemMOQ
Shoe box and overall packaging based on custom design. Setup cost to be assessed after receiving all the details. An MOQ of 1,000 boxes applies.
Note: it is possible to order less than 1,000 boxes even if the initial shoe order is smaller (i.e. 100 pairs). ISM can hold the remaining boxes for future orders.
ad-hoc quotation requiredad-hoc quotation required1,000


Note: The prices above are intended as reference only and ISM reserves the right to update them for any dedicated quotation.


What are the payment terms?

Terms may vary depending on specific situations.

As a general guideline, projects are divided in different phases such as design, prototyping, production, packaging, etc.

Payment upfront is necessary before starting each phase.

When trust is built and orders are recurring, payment terms with installments can be considered for production orders.

What are the payment methods?

  • For payments up to 3,000-4,000 Euro: Paypal / Credit Card
  • For amounts exceeding 4,000 Euro: Wire transfer to our company bank account or Letter of credit

Other Enquiries

Where are the factories located?

Le Marche, the region of Italy with the longest history for shoemaking, where many renowned Italian labels have their production base at. Within Le Marche, the factories are located in the following towns:

  • Porto Sant’Elpidio
  • Fermo
  • Montegranaro
  • Civitanova Marche

How long have the factories been operating for?

The factories have been in the industry for over 30 years, spanning two or more generations with extensive experience.

Can factory visits be arranged?

As factories are unlike showrooms, visits are only open to clients we are already in business with (those who have placed a production or sample order), where immediate feedback can be given during the visits.

Which is the closest airport?

The closest airport is Ancona (AOI). Direct flights to Ancona depart from European capitals such as Munich (with Lufthansa) or London (with RyanAir).

Please note there are no flights from Rome/Milan to Ancona.

If you are in Rome, the most suitable way to reach us is via private car or a 4-hour coach ride (with Flixbus).

If you are in Milan, then the train is available and it takes approximately 4.5 hrs (with Trenitalia).

Can you ship directly to my customers?

As it is not a practice for manufacturers to arrange individual drop shipping, orders can only be processed as a whole shipment according to your production order (i.e. the bulk order), and cannot be shipped by pair to various destinations.

If you are looking to arrange direct shipping to your customers, we would recommend you to go with a fulfillment house based in your country, where we will arrange the shipment to the fulfillment warehouse for them to take care of logistics for individual customer orders.

Can you take photos/videos of my products?

ISM provides free of charge professional photos of the completed product, shot against a white background. Examples may be found on our Showcase website page.

If you are interested in production photos or videos while the product is being made, this is not something factories normally do. Workshops are sensitive towards privacy matters as the facilities make products for more than one client at the same time and it is important to protect the client’s as well as the workshop’s intellectual property.

When necessary, for example during the prototyping phase, photos may be provided with the purpose of showing a particular progress that requires client’s feedback. However, these cannot be deemed as high-quality or artistic photos usable to promote your product or for ads and social media.

For more usable outcomes, a photo or video shoot needs to be arranged whereas the factory organizes an area of the workshop as shooting set, along with a professional photographer and lighting equipment. ISM provides this as a separate service. A dedicated quotation is necessary. If you are interested, please let us know:

  • the number of photos or video length you intend to have.
  • the number of phases you want to picture in the photos/videos.
    This determines the number of times the photographer/videographer needs to attend the factory, setup the shooting set, and perform the shoot. If you aim at representing the evolution of a prototype throughout the phases, it is necessary to repeat the shoot 3 to 4 times across 5-6 weeks of development, so the charge will depend on how many phases of the development process you want to represent in your photos/videos.

Do I need to book a consultation session to enquire more info?

If you are looking for information on our services, then our website and FAQ page cover most of the aspects and information we can share without knowing the details of your project.

If instead you would like to receive a dedicated feedback to your idea, design, product, project strategy, brand plan, etc., then one of our experts needs to look into the details of your project, understand what you want to make, assess any technical aspect, provide feedback, suggest a direction, devise a plan of action, etc.
This service is available via Consulting sessions. More details can be found here.

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