What Materials Should I Use For My Custom Shoes? - COMUNITYmade


What Materials Should I Use For My Custom Shoes?

What Materials Should I Use For My Custom Shoes?

by Sean Scott April 24, 2023

Here's the quick answer: You can choose any material your heart desires when it comes to custom sneakers and shoes. The possibilities are endless. Fabrics, synthetics, natural leather materials of any kind, and anything else you can dream up will work. 

If you've never had the opportunity to design your custom pair of shoes, then get ready – this will be a magical experience. If you've already had the pleasure of working with shoe designers to craft a pair of custom handmade shoes, then you'll appreciate how wonderful our artisans are at COMUNITYmade.

The joy of EVA foam and synthetic materials

Imagine a team of the most brilliant and whacky scientists who are hard at work discovering all kinds of super-duper materials. What kind of amazing shoes could be possible? Only there's no need to imagine. This is precisely what has been going into the materials science and engineering world for the last few years.

Here's one example I'm sure you've heard of: NASA Memory Foam. Memory foam is what goes into the world's most comfortable mattresses. It's like sleeping on a comfy cloud. 

EVA Foam is the material used in one of the most expensive sneakers of all time, Nike's MAG Back to the Future (2016). Shoe designers also use EVA Foam in other sporting shoes that are not quite yet as famous, but just as comfortable. 

Blumaka Foam is unique as it uses up to 85% recycled foams from factory floor scraps. What would normally be heading to the landfill can now be repurposed and made into new cushioning for midsoles and insoles.

Choose the most uncommon of common Materials

Leather textiles have been used to make shoes for thousands of years, so how exciting could common materials like leather be? Have we got a surprise for you. Of course, you can choose from the finest natural leathers and tanning varieties.

The wildest color combinations can be accommodated, and we even have shoes with upcycled leather; take a look at The Mayor, for example. It's a unique, made-to-order pair, and each pair will be numbered. Only 500 pairs will be made, and we will be made in small batches. 

Making a material difference with The Mayor

Every step matters. That's the binding philosophy between the famous Pingree Detroit and Los Angeles' COMUNITYmade. Both companies believe in supporting the local manufacturing community and the communities where we work and live by providing meaningful careers to those who desire to make a difference.

The Mayor is collaboratively handcrafted in Detroit and L.A., and we use our proprietary men's and women's lasts for the perfect fit. Upcycled premium leathers from the automotive industry are used to create tough, long-lasting uppers with unique accents of style. 

Join the creative process and have fun

If you want to learn more about creating custom shoes with COMUNITYmade, come by for a visit! We'd love to show you around and answer any questions you might have. It's a creative process, after all, and we appreciate new ideas and love listening to what fellow shoe enthusiasts have to say. 

If you want to dabble in customizing your shoes, here's a quick guide to help you. And here's a starter list:

  1. Desk lamp or adjustable light source.

  2. Microfiber towels and plenty of paper towels.

  3. Cotton balls 

  4. Cotton swabs

  5. Precise fine-point paintbrushes

  6. Painter's tape (removable blue tape)

  7. Large, self-healing cutting mat

  8. Heat gun

  9. Blow dryer

  10. Fingernail buffing pads

Sneaker Anatomy 101

Here's something
that will help you describe the areas where you will express your style. 

Generally speaking, a shoe has approximately 20-25 different parts. Some of them you may already be familiar with. The heel, the laces, and the tongue can be pointed out by most people. Here's a comprehensive list:

  • Tongue top
  • Tongue front
  • Tongue padding or foam
  • Lining of the tongue
  • Collar (That's the padding area where you insert your foot)
  • Collar lining
  • Collar padding or foam
  • Heel lining
  • Heel counter (This is the stiffest part at the back of your heel and helps the shoe maintain its shape. When you try to slide your foot in without loosening the laces, it gets crushed and folded over.)
  • Foxing
  • Eyestays
  • Eyestay reinforcement
  • Eyelets
  • Laces
  • Lace aglet (that's the little plastic tip and the end of shoelaces)
  • Quarter
  • Quarter overlay
  • Vamp
  • Tip
  • Tip reinforcement
  • Strobel
  • Midsole
  • Outsole

A little about designing shoes

If you want to design personalized shoes or custom shoes, It’s a good idea to learn shoe design. Simply put, shoe design involves designing trendy and creative shoes that appeal to the market. As a shoe designer, you have to develop the design, decide which material to use, take part in the shoe manufacturing process, and so much more.

If you’re serious about becoming a shoe designer, investigate the appropriate training. There are several degree and diploma courses on shoe design available in institutes and universities alike. You can either choose to study locally or go abroad. Research the various institutions that offer footwear design courses and settle on the one that suits you best. 

A little about COMUNITYmade

First and foremost, here at COMUNITYmade, we are all about the people we work with and the community in which we live. The United States of America has a proud history of making handcrafted shoes for men and women, and at COMUNITYmade, we are doing all we can to revive this tradition. Together – with our family of skilled and talented artisans – we work with brilliant designers to create casual, athletic, and stunning custom handmade shoes for both men and women.

We're very proud of our people who put their heart and soul into the shoes we make. So when you're ready to start working with us on your next pair of shoes, we'd love to meet you and introduce you to some of our artisans. 

Make a Donation To The Charity Of Your Choice

Giving back is important to us at COMUNITYmade. We're active supporters of the neighborhoods where we live and work. When you do your best and help the people around you, great things happen, and it catches on. That's why a portion of the proceeds from every pair of shoes you order will be donated to the charity of your choice. It's just another way together we can support all communities.

Sean Scott
Sean Scott


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Find Your Perfect Size

We want to help make sure that your new shoes have the best fit possible.  

We have created a separate fit for men and women to provide the ultimate foot hugging comfort.  Our sockliner and upper materials will naturally mold to your foot and stretch out after a short period of time, so do allow for this when trying our shoes on initially.


 In general, our shoes are running closer to an everyday shoe fit vs. an athletic shoe fit and can be worn with or without socks - but the socks have to be eye catching for best results.


Any variances from this chart will be noted on each individual product page.