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Ways To Customize Shoes For Your Business

Ways To Customize Shoes For Your Business

Shoe customization is a business opportunity you DO NOT want to overlook. Most shoes are made of common apparel fabrics like cotton, canvas, and polyester. As a result, many pairs of blank shoes will be compatible for customization just like a T-shirt. You’ll want to keep in mind that shoes aren’t the most common item to customize, and most heat presses don’t come with the pieces necessary to press them. Fortunately, HPN has shoes covered with their Signature Series and Signature Pro lines of heat presses, which include a 12-in-1 multifunction heat press.

Both machines come standard with an interchangeable lower platen specifically designed for accommodating shoes. By replacing the machine’s standard platen with the shoe attachment, you then simply insert your shoes to the attachment’s rounded points. This will allow you to customize sneakers, slip-ons, cleats, and other footwear with the standard heating element. To demonstrate how versatile shoe customization can be, we’ll show off how the Signature Series shoe attachment can customize both plain canvas shoes and white polyester shoes with popular heat transfers.

As our pair of canvas shoes are made of cotton, we’ll be applying Siser EasyWeed heat transfer vinyl onto its front side. You’ll of course need to first measure the particular area to press for reference. By doing so, you can prepare your design within these measurements to produce a transfer that will fit onto your shoe’s surface. After finishing your design, save it, and import it to your cutting software. If you use a VinylSystems cutter like the Edge or Evo, you can use the following settings on your machine: Force between 80 to 125 grams, Speed at 400 to 600 millimeters per second, and adjust the blade to stick out at approximately one-fifth of an inch from the holder - which is about the thickness of a business card. And with your cutter setup, you may go ahead and cut your design.

Once your design has been cut, you may weed and trim it around the edges to get it ready to be applied onto your shoe. For applying Siser EasyWeed HTV, turn on your heat press and set it to 10 seconds at 305 degrees Fahrenheit with medium to firm pressure. If you haven’t replaced the lower platen of your Signature Series multifunction or swing away machine yet, you can do that now. Let’s swing the heating element aside so we can remove the standard lower platen. Simply loosen the two handscrews below and bring the lower platen out. Now you can slide the shoe attachment in place and fasten the hand screws back in. Now you can prepare a shoe.

A few tips: as this attachment has four rounded points, you’ll be able to press up to two pairs of shoes at once by sliding each shoe onto one of the points. If your shoes fit well, you can also press their left or right sides by rotating them as they’re slid onto the points. But with your shoes in, place your transfer on top of them, cover them with a protective sheet and press. After 10 seconds, open your machine to peel the EasyWeed transfers hot or cold. These canvas shoes now display your very own design cut with Siser EasyWeed. Based on the shoes’ rigidness, a second press may be needed to ensure a proper transfer.

If you’re ready to push your shoe customization skills, you can grab a pair of polyester shoes for sublimation. These white water shoes in particular are perfect for the summer season AND sublimation. Because they’re made of a poly-rich material, they will do great for your red-hot summer designs. Customizing polyester shoes like these water shoes can make for great designer items, custom sportswear, gift shop or promotional items, and more.

As always, be sure to measure your shoes first to be able to create a design that perfectly fits within their imprint area. For quick demonstration, we’ll prepare two logos of the same size to fit on the front of each shoe. Some seasoned sublimation veterans may even feel inclined to try a full-bleed transfer onto these items. As soon as you’ve finished your design, print it through your sublimation printer. Sawgrass users can configure Sawgrass Print Manager to these settings: Substrate to Polyester, Paper to the loaded paper’s profile, leave the Mirror option checked, and the Color Mode in the Color tab to Photographic or Vivid depending on the desired level of saturation. With these settings in, click Print.

Now that the design is printed, let’s turn the heat press back on and set it to 50 seconds at 385 degrees Fahrenheit with medium to firm pressure. As soon as your heat press reaches temperature, slide your shoes onto the pointed edges of the shoe attachment, then trim the transfer around the edges of the designs, positioning them on each shoe, then securing them in place with heat tape. Cover your items with a parchment paper sheet and press. As a note: for thin or mesh materials, you may need to place parchment paper in between your shoe and the shoe attachment. Our water shoes demonstrated here are thick enough to prevent any sublimation dye from seeping through to the shoe platen.

After 50 seconds, open your machine to allow the shoes to cool down for a few moments. Quickly peel your transfers off, and your polyester shoes are now customized with a vibrant, colorful sublimation transfer! By adding shoe customization with either sublimation, HTV, and other heat transfers, you will be adding significant value to your business - in addition to increasing your versatility as you grow. As with any project, pairing shoes with your most attention-grabbing designs is a great way to spark interest in your business - hopefully leading potential customers to inquire about what you have to offer.

If you’d like to share your custom shoes with us and a large community of heat transfer enthusiasts, feel free to join our HeatPressNation Creators Facebook group at heat.press/FBgroup. To learn more about the Signature Series shoe attachment and other products, please visit us at HeatPressNation.com. For any questions, you can get in touch with one of our friendly MyExpert representatives at support.heatpressnation.com. 

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