"Never underestimate the power of a shoe."

- Giuseppe Zanotti


Product development

Product development refers to the creation of new styles and collections based on new designs, sketches or tech packs.

The design can be provided by you (if you have experience with that) or you can get help by our in-house design team to interpret your ideas and create sketches ready to begin the product development phase.

The outcome of product development is a sample (a pair of shoes in case of footwear or a handbag) which purpose is to show you how the production will look like. You may also use the sample for marketing, fashion shows, events, etc. with the purpose of generating interest and pre-orders.

Once the sample is approved by you, the production (or bulk order) can commence.

Note: in certain cases when styles are technically complex, our team may decide to add an intermediate step and develop a prototype before the actual sample is made.
A prototype is usually manufactured with raw materials and does not represent the final item. Its purpose is to validate the overall concept and still be able to make necessary modifications.

Detailed sketches and tech-packs, made by an experienced designer.

If instead you have an initial idea but not a professionally made sketch, then our team can help recreate the style, turning it into a feasible product and making it ready for development at the shoe factory.

This process would also provide you with a more accurate preview of how the style will look like in real life. You can ask for more information via Contact Us.

The cost varies depending on complexity of the design, materials, hardware and embellishments (if any) or if particular shoe making technique is necessary.

As a general rule, an approximate range is 800 to 2,500 Euro per style.
It can be higher if the style requires a specific custom setup, for example a custom heel, custom rubber sole, custom hardware, etc.

Development cost excludes: shipping, insurance, Customs & import duty*.

(*) charged at the destination country and depending on local trade regulations.

  • Technical analysis ⇒ in-depth study of your design down to the smallest detail, ensuring no misunderstanding and misinterpretation happen. Any open question is answered to be 100% aligned on feasibility
  • Extensive material sourcing ⇒ no single supplier reliance. We are connected with the best Italian leather suppliers, tanneries, sole providers, hardware makers, jewelry makers, etc.
  • Logo setup
  • Other setups and tooling, such as metal moulds for custom rubber soles, custom heels, custom hardware and embellishments, etc.
  • Shoe last development and paper pattern making
  • Prototype (if required)
  • Final sample making
You will have a dedicated point of contact. An experienced member of our team who will be looking after the full project, available to you via email or phone.

The development includes everything needed to produce a sample. We send out a “product specification” PDF that summarizes the style technical details and materials used.

We do not reuse shoe lasts already produced for other brands as this is their intellectual property and we respect it.

We make ad-hoc shoe lasts for each brand who wants to produce with us, as this is key to their success and differentiation from the competition.

The sourcing service starts with our ability to access a number of trusted materials and accessory suppliers across Italy, with whom we established a successful business relationship over the years.

We research several options viable for the specific product you are making and we discuss with you what would work best. We negotiate the best material price, we manage delivery to our facilities, we cross check quality and manage any return should a defect be spotted.

It depends on the complexity of the design, how particular your materials are and how long the sourcing phase takes. A high level estimation can be between 8 and 12 weeks, from the moment we finalize and freeze the design to sample shipment.

Also worth noticing that technical challenges may arise during the development process, as a product is being built for the first time, requiring testing and potentially several iterations to meet the expected looks and quality. For this reason, the timelines we provide are estimates and should be taken as an indication only.

Speaking about timelines, keep in mind twice a year when Italian factories, workshops and suppliers are not operational (3 weeks in August, 2 weeks across New Year).

If you are planning a collection launch, a photoshoot or a marketing event, we recommend to schedule it only after you receive the goods. There may be many factors bringing delays, linked and not linked to manufacturing. For example a last minute issue in the finalisation of the products requiring re-make, shipping delays, destination country holding up the goods at the Customs, etc.

As you repeat this process twice or more, the lead times tend to become shorter and clearer.

This can be assessed on a case by case basis and depending on the order quantity.

We encourage checking what our customers say about us: in the home page, in the consulting testimonials and in the Success stories.

We work primarily for private label brands and we can only post a limited number of (their) products – you may check our Instagram account for some examples. Upon request, we can provide customer reference.

Another good way to understand if we are a good fit is to talk with us.


To put a newly created collection into production, the cost is calculated as follows: Setup costs + Cost per item x number of items ordered Setup costs are fixed costs per style and cover the development of the “size run” – the full spectrum of sizes chosen. In more details:
  • Installation, tooling and moulding of different sizes
  • Shoe last development of different sizes
  • Paper pattern development of different sizes
  • Any other setup that is size-specific (i.e. a logo setup changes as its dimension is bigger).
The setup costs are one-off, for each style. That means you don’t pay them again in future productions of the same style, with the exception of:
  • a future order of much greater quantity: more shoe lasts need to be made as more items go together on the production line
  • if you request additional sizes not previously developed
The cost per item, instead, is the ex-factory price of the individual item and it is multiplied by the number of items ordered. The cost per item includes basic packaging (see dedicated FAQ) and it excludes: shipping, insurance, Customs & import duty*. (*) these are charged by the receiving country and depend on local trade regulations. Production costs are aligned with the best Italian shoemaking while rigorously abiding by  ethical labour practices. A dedicated quotation is necessary to work out the production costs. A general guideline of the cost per item is from 80-100 Euro for the simpler styles, to 120 Euro and up, for complex styles with sophisticated materials. It can be higher in case of sophisticated designs, custom metal hardware, add-on embellishments or use of exotic materials. During the production process, you will have a dedicated point of contact: an experienced member of our team who will be looking after the full project, available to you via email or phone.

The MOQ depends on many factors, such as the shoe design, the materials, custom components, etc.

For footwear, we support small MOQs such as 100 pairs per style, with multiple sizes of your choice.

For handbags and other accessories, the MOQ is 50 items per style.

It goes from a small-size family-run handbag and shoe factory able to accept batches of 50-100 items to larger enterprise factories capable of thousands of items per month. We manage the scaling in the background.

Going from samples to production implies an industrialisation process. Often samples are made at a dedicated workshop, whereas production takes place in one or more facilities 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 first 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, depending on the complexity of the design and the order quantity.

Speaking about timelines, keep in mind twice  a year when Italian factories, workshops and suppliers are not operational (3 weeks in August, 2 weeks across New Year).

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

As you repeat a production order, the lead times tend to become shorter.

The order quantity plays a role in the price after a certain order quantity amount. As a rule of thumb, above 300 pairs the production fixed costs can be better spread out and you may see a reduced price per pair (starting from 5% and possibly up to 10-12% when order quantity goes above 1,000 pairs)

Yes, absolutely. Developing a new style on the same shoe last/mold will have lower development costs. Also, there will be a lower set up costs for production. Note that using the same moulds implies using the same heel. Also switching from a bootie to a pump will need a shoe last change, as well as going from open toe to closed toes. It’ll keep the same shoe last if you just modify the style of the upper without changing the overall shape of the style.

Yes, within a reasonable amount of sizes, which is normally 5-6 different sizes. If more than 6 sizes are needed, then we will have to develop additional molds/paper patterns.


We offers 3 options with increased customization:

Standard (no logo customization)

Description One-off setup cost Add-on cost per unit MOQ
Shoe box: standard white box, glossy. Choice between white or black colour. No logo prints. Small white label displaying brand name, style name and size None 2€ 100
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 size None 3€ 100
Dust bag in cotton (brushed or raw cotton or non-woven). No logo
None 2.0 – 3.5€ 500

Custom (with logo customization)

Description One-off setup cost Add-on cost per unit MOQ
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 size

If your footwear / handbag order is lower than 500 items, we can hold the remaining boxes for future orders, up to 12 months
900€ 4.0 – 5.0€ 500
Dust bag in cotton (brushed or raw cotton or non-woven) with Logo print mono-colour 300€ 4.0 – 5.5€ 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) 350€ 0.5€ 500


Description One-off setup cost Add-on cost per item MOQ

Shoe box and overall packaging based on your own design. Setup costs will be quoted after receiving all the details. MOQ is 1000 boxes.

If your footwear / handbag order is lower than 1000 items, we can hold the remaining boxes for future orders, up to 12 months

ad-hoc quotation ad-hoc quotation 1,000

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

Creating custom packaging requires factory setups and once the production line is started, it will produce all the items. The process cannot take place for a few samples only.

To help ensure the packaging meets your expectations, we share renderings beforehand, so you can give us feedback before the production starts.

Yes, we can make boxes in recycled paper. Regarding the dust bags, we offer 100% organic cotton.


Terms may vary depending on the specific situation.

Projects are split in different phases such as design, development, 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.

  • Paypal / Credit Card (2.5% transaction fee applies)
  • Wire transfer to our company bank account in Italy

Consulting services

If you are looking for information on our services, then our Website and this 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.

The service includes a pre-analysis based on questions and input you provide when you book the session (photos, sketches etc.), phone/video call and a written follow-up (by email) to recap the key points discussed.

This depends on how confident you are in the subject matter. Start-ups and designers at their first launch have found tremendous benefit in starting with a consultation session, avoiding the typical startup pitfalls and wasting their initial investment in the wrong product being developed and produced.

You may find valuable testimonials at this page.


Our team works with forwarders who ship internationally. Some of our customers prefer to handle shipment themselves, some others rely on us to take care of it, including the necessary documents. Normally we source a shipping quotation once the sample is approved and we are discussing the production order.

As it is not a practice for manufacturers to arrange individual drop shipping, orders can only be processed as a whole shipment (i.e. 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.

These are charged by the receiving country. They depend on local trade regulations and on the setup of your company (private individual, business owner, limited company, etc).

Therefore it is outside ISM’s control and we suggest you to check with the local trading authority.
However, by experience with some of our Customers, this is what you can expect:

    • USA: approx 7-10% of the value of the goods shipped
    • Canada: we are REX approved, therefore 0%
    • UAE: 5% on footwear products (0% if your company is registered within the Dubai Free Trade Zone)
    • EU: it’s a free trade zone, therefore 0%

ISM is REX registered and we can ship goods with all the necessary documentation, therefore no Custom Duties will occur from Italy to the UK. This is subject to any recent change so please do check with the ISM team prior shipping.

Other Enquiries

We are constantly promoting sustainable and ethical manufacturing by staying committed to ecologically-minded processes and fair workforce practices including workers well-being, working environment, safety etc. We practice sustainable shoe material selection, environmentally friendly footwear production processes as well as waste reduction in manufacturing. We are also constantly adopting innovative materials and already support a number of cruelty free, natural and sustainable leather alternatives, without toxic chemicals.

In 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

Some of our team members are often in Milan to follow the latest fashion trends, visit showrooms and maintain customer relationships.

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

As factories are unlike showrooms, we prioritize visits for brands who have already started a project with us, where immediate feedback can be given during the visit. Alternatively, we offer a dedicated service “On-site consulting with factory visit“, which allows our team to allocate time to organize the manufacturing facility visit and provide technical feedback and guidance on your project in person. 

The closest airport is Ancona (AOI). Direct flights to Ancona depart from European capitals such as Munich, Dusseldorf, Paris Orly, Brussels and London.

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

ISM does not produce its own collection and we solely work for private label brands. We are committed to preserve the privacy of their designs, therefore we are not able to send out samples. We invite you to check our work and what our customers say: in the home page, in the consulting testimonials and in the Customer stories. You may check our Instagram account for some examples.

Upon request, we can provide customer reference.

We can provide a photo of the samples shot against a white background.

If you are interested in production photos or videos while the product is being made, you may want to be aware that factories are sensitive towards privacy matters as the facilities make products for more than one brand at the same time and it is important to protect their intellectual property.

When necessary, for example during the development phase, photos may be provided with the purpose of showing a particular progress that requires your 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 a shooting set, along with a professional photographer and lighting equipment. We can provide 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.

Want to start your own shoe or handbag line?

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