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10 Best Books that Discuss Shoe Designers

last updated Jul 03, 2019

Every aspect of what people of today wear has been contributed to by some of the most iconic designers. The fashion industry is cut throat but the pressure of that culture produces some of the most forward-thinking footwear that penetrates markets globally. Yeezys alone single-handedly changed the infrastructure of sneakers as a whole. He designed a more comfortable shoe using gummy soles and a revolutionary design. This article focuses more on contemporary designers that revolutionized the industry and created books that go from the whimsical and to the downright shockingly extravagant. In high fashion knowing what’s inside the mind of iconic designers can mean the difference between a lucrative career and a mediocre existence in the industry.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 8 hrs of research

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Shoemaker of Dreams
94.6/100 our score
Brand
98
Style
97
Value
95
Versatility
85
Effectiveness
98
Shoemaker of Dreams
Why is it better?

Intriguing Story-Telling

Historically Accurate

Stunning Photography

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Shoemaker of Dreams
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#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.6
Brand
98 %
Style
97 %
Value
95 %
Versatility
85 %
Effectiveness
98 %
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#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Brand
98 %
Style
97 %
Value
90 %
Versatility
89 %
Effectiveness
90 %
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$38.32
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.4
Brand
97 %
Style
92 %
Value
87 %
Versatility
95 %
Effectiveness
86 %
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$72.50
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90
Brand
81 %
Style
88 %
Value
91 %
Versatility
94 %
Effectiveness
96 %
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$46.88
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89
Brand
97 %
Style
84 %
Value
91 %
Versatility
80 %
Effectiveness
93 %
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$16.95
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.4
Brand
90 %
Style
96 %
Value
85 %
Versatility
82 %
Effectiveness
89 %
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#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.2
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90 %
Style
87 %
Value
92 %
Versatility
85 %
Effectiveness
87 %
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#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.8
Brand
88 %
Style
92 %
Value
90 %
Versatility
87 %
Effectiveness
82 %
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$34.31
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.8
Brand
82 %
Style
91 %
Value
83 %
Versatility
88 %
Effectiveness
90 %
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#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.4
Brand
82 %
Style
98 %
Value
82 %
Versatility
80 %
Effectiveness
85 %
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$17.43

Top 10 Picks

1. Shoemaker of Dreams

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.6
Shoemaker of Dreams
Amazon Link
Brand
98
Style
97
Value
95
Versatility
85
Effectiveness
98
best offer for today
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Pros:

Intriguing Story-Telling

Historically Accurate

Stunning Photography

Cons:

No Apparel Details

Salvatore Ferragamo was popular around the roaring ’20s and left behind an undying legacy. People till this day still wear and rave over this spirit of this brand. The classic appeal of Ferragamos creations cannot be overlooked. Being 11th of 14 children, coming out of Italy and making his mark by working with celebrities from glamourous old Hollywood, is a staggering legacy. Till this day the brand is run by family members, continuing to be the jewel of the Ferragamo lineage.

This item is in-depth when it comes to uncovering the life and feel of the era Salvator Ferragamo lived. Although he isn’t American, he has a magnificent story of overcoming that American culture embraces and embodies. He actually made his first pair of shoes and the rest, as they say, is history. This is a great product for those who want to explore the mind of a genius and be completely enveloped in a world of shoes. This is a very honest and inspiring autobiography, revealing the courage of a man with a vision, who made his mark on the fashion industry forever.

2. Savage Beauty

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Savage Beauty
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Brand
98
Style
97
Value
90
Versatility
89
Effectiveness
90
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$38.32
Pros:

Visually Inspiring

Displays Artistic Process

Showcases Full Collections

Gives Designers History

Cons:

Lacks Theatrical Flair

Alexander McQueen is a visionary in his own right. This is one of the most iconic creators to ever challenge and change fashion standards. This man was a fiery individual who passionately and tirelessly worked to break traditions and inspire the world. His inspiring run-way displays were avant-garde and highly anticipated by those who follow fashion everywhere.

Savage Beauty was an exhibition piece that was inspired by the original display at the Metropolitan Museum in 2011. This is a brave review of inspiring measures that this artist would take to display his love of death and fantasy. This edginess was unheard of before this time and this artisan would not be silenced. The art in this work marries sexiness and taboo’s related to death and darkness. This mentality created elegantly sleek appealing displays that re-defined fashion in a way that it would never be the same.

3. Christian Louboutin

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.4
Christian Louboutin
Amazon Link
Brand
97
Style
92
Value
87
Versatility
95
Effectiveness
86
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$72.50
Pros:

Beautiful Cover

Well Formatted

Contains Rare Images

Accurate Historic Information

Cons:

Some Pages Stick

Some Nudity

The iconic red bottoms celebrities and fashionistas clamor over were designed by this pragmatic designer. Starting his first boutique in 1992 after working with Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent his journey began. This book is the first of it’s kind having pop-up designs and intricate detailing about this pioneers early life and stunning images. This book also offers intricate detailing when it comes to the fetish line collaboration and early lines leading up to the signature red bottoms and insanely high heels.

This hardcover is actually one of the more moderately priced high fashion artworks. These kinds of books tend to be expensive because of the amount of priceless information they contain. The innovative pop-up isn’t typically used for designs like this and some pages are even gilded. This item is an artistic creation as well. The images contained in this artwork are elegant and all 120 designs have been cataloged in chapter 6 of this item. This work has been very thoroughly researched and the images contained in this work are rare. This product gives a very thorough and complete picture of the man who creates fashions that are highly regarded and desired by people everywhere.

4. The Boots That Made History

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90
The Boots That Made History
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Brand
81
Style
88
Value
91
Versatility
94
Effectiveness
96
best offer for today
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$46.88
Pros:

Features Iconic Advertisements

Interesting Historic Information

Stunning Full-Color Images

Cons:

Doesn’t Catalog Failures

Frye boots have been worn by some of the most famous faces including the stunningly beautiful; Julia Roberts. These amazing boots have been loved into today. These boots have very quaint beginnings and managed to find themselves in the spotlight. These were designed for a day laborers and blue collar workers. The authors of this work have backgrounds in architecture and design themselves.

This is a true American story with humble beginnings and becoming an iconic boot worn by celebrities and workers alike. Fashion can really bring people together especially when an item is functional as well as fashionable. The craftsmen at the Frye company have worked hard to keep the tradition of authentic shoemaking alive. This product does a great job of covering the early history of this brand and showcasing the many ways in which this product is worn. This brand has been consistent in developing newer materials and creating new patterns, even developing innovative machinery.

5. Vivienne Westwood

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89
Vivienne Westwood
Amazon Link
Brand
97
Style
84
Value
91
Versatility
80
Effectiveness
93
best offer for today
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$16.95
Pros:

In-Depth Details

Objective Commentary

Chronologically Written

Cons:

Long-Winded Sometimes

Many of the designers on this list are icons in their own right, and Westwood is no different. She was unafraid to walk to the beat of her own drum inspiring punk wear for generations to come. Vivienne Westwood is over 70 years old now and this is the only memoir she has produced that gives in-depth details to her rise as a designer in the industry. She discusses her early life, what inspired her and what the struggles were during her climb to success.

Imagine in an industry where models come and go like the change of the breeze and trends are constantly changing, having a career that spans over 5 decades. That is the testament of this culture-changing innovative creator. Being a trend setter and not a trend follower is the mark of a masterful designer. The trends she started were shocking and ridiculed heavily by the fashion industry of this time period. No matter how outlandish or “vile” her creations seemed times were changing and her creations would undoubtedly take center stage. These fashions are now highly desired and widely anticipated. Vivian is a masterful creator with the ability to step outside of the box and have the world watched in shock and awe.

6. Life of Style

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.4
Life of Style
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Brand
90
Style
96
Value
85
Versatility
82
Effectiveness
89
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Pros:

Large Print

High Definition Pictures

In-Depth Read

Cons:

Pricey

Large Book

Vince Camuto is a New York native, with parents that immigrated from Sicily. He comes from a family of artisans, his father being an artisan himself. Undoubtedly it has been these early influences that have produced the visionary that gifted the world with so many elegant creations. In the early 1960’s he moved into the shoe manufacturing business and over 17 years later the iconic Nine West was born.

This product is beneficial for those who want to understand in-depth what it takes to brand multiple companies and see exclusive sketches. This particular artisan had a love of home; all three of his estates were meticulously crafted and designed with his own vision. Pictures of these estates are added into this book to show a little more about the personal life and broad vision of this creative entrepreneur. This item also gifts the reader with exclusive sketches and never before known details about the visionary’s life. Those who have an inclination for creative works will love exploring the life, mind, and passions of a man who came to define his personal style in a fabulous fashion.

7. Jimmy Choo

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.2
Jimmy Choo
Amazon Link
Brand
90
Style
87
Value
92
Versatility
85
Effectiveness
87
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Pros:

Fairly Priced

Oversized Appeal

Business Details

Creative Inspiring Pictures

Cons:

Lacking Classic Designs

The cover of this book says it all. Featuring a stunning cover image that seems to drip of glamour and success. Jimmy Choo is a favorite among celebrities and even princesses. Tamara Mellon created Jimmy Choo in 1996 and has captivated the minds of fans ever since then. Jimmy Choo designs always seem to have an element of glamour mixed with fantasy. These shoes bring the wearer to a different realm altogether.

Mellon not only created beautiful items but has also has proven over and over again her keen business sense. This product not only features paparazzi snapshots but sketches and designs as well. This is a great product to give as a gift to shoe lovers and aspiring creators that want to read the history of the brand, as well as, getting inspired and passionate about their work. While this product does get into the history of the brand and thoroughly chronicles successes of the brand it does not really get into some of the archived designs. Those who want to understand the inner workings of building a successful company and be inspired by red carpet attire of years past.

8. Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.8
Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions
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Brand
88
Style
92
Value
90
Versatility
87
Effectiveness
82
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$34.31
Pros:

Story-Telling Format

Fantastic Inspiring Imagery

Excellent Photography

Fairly Inexpensive

Cons:

Hard to Follow

Early 2000’s popular culture and any Beyonce fans will remember how popularized Manolo Blahnik’s became in that era. They were sung about, coveted and copied fakes were everywhere. Everyone had to have the timberland inspired shoe that was innovative and unique. There was a literal craze that all high-fashion brands enjoy at one time or another. This product offers one of the most in-depth looks into the mind of a creative genius.

This book was written by the daring creative, who pushed architecture and design to new even more inspiring limits. The sheer creative and mental capacity it takes to design over 30,000 shoes is staggering. This is what made this man a legend in the world of footwear. This work features conversations Blahnik’s has had with many different prestigious people of varying backgrounds. This line of conversation brought out the best this man has to offer and really showcased his razor-sharp focus when it comes to creating his works. These high-end creations are not for the faint of heart or light in the pockets. Each creation, every sketch, and every detail of every item produced has come from the mind of this man. He has always been his company’s only designer and has given life to the layered thought he projects onto his love projects.

9. My Dear Bomb

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.8
My Dear Bomb
Amazon Link
Brand
82
Style
91
Value
83
Versatility
88
Effectiveness
90
best offer for today
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Pros:

Inspiring Story

Unique Creation Perspective

Easy Read

Cons:

Pretentious for Some

No great story has ever been told that didn’t have something to overcome. Some of the greatest people that have ever lived have overcome hard times. When Yohji Yamamoto was placed in a position that he could give up or preserver he chose to become the designer that many have come to know in love. Draped in all black he is an elegant creator with refined tastes and flair.

Life is unpredictable and there are times when that unpredictability will test an individual and push them to their destiny. He went bankrupt in 2009 after a series of bad investments. He never gave up his vision but re-evaluated things and came to a space that his dreams would be given new life. This creator has a knack for the way fabrics lay on a human beings body and move with the rhythm of life. This product is a series of memoirs and conversation that is unapologetically honest, giving this work a feeling of closeness and understanding the mind of a master and immoveable spirit.

10. Art & Sole

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.4
Art & Sole
Amazon Link
Brand
82
Style
98
Value
82
Versatility
80
Effectiveness
85
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$17.43
Pros:

Minimalist Construction

Artistic Visual Display

Inexpensive

Cons:

Not Descriptive

This is a different kind of book for art connoisseurs. This product focuses solely on footwear and the inspiring collection of Stuart Weitzman’s commissioned Fantasy Art Shoe series. These items are created with a more artistic line of vision. These various artists are the favorites of the fantasy art collection. This brand has created some of the most expensive shoes in the world. It’s not always the price that is staggering but actually the vision that has captivated minds.

This piece catalogs the fantastic visions of various creators by Stuart Weitzman’s, very own trusted life partner, Jane Weitzman. This isn’t a history piece or an in-depth description of every shoe. It’s a passion piece for those who want to see the art in its entirety without all the extra wordiness many written works display. This is a minimalist display of items that are so extravagant in their uniqueness, that they need no introduction. The end of this written work simply states the artists involved with which shoes and their contact information. These are items that were displayed in Jane and Stuarts flagship store, these being their favorite constructions. This happens to make a very good coffee table book and is very elegant in its construction, leaving a lot for the imagination to be inspired too.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Brand

Branding is important for designers and fashionistas alike. While every individual on this list is a master shoemaker and tailor, how far reaching their brand is, is important. Many of these individuals were the pioneers of their era. Typically, not being accepted in the beginning by the culture of the time but eventually coming to define an era. There is a science to setting trends and creating the footwear of tomorrow. Each book will be evaluated by the effect their brand has had and how far-reaching that is, even over decades of time. This will be important for those who are aspiring creators or fans of fashion greats. Well constructed books that unmask the mind of a legend can inspire the creators of the future. This is why the effect their brand has had on this particular industry and the world will be important to evaluate.

Style

What does it mean to be stylish? Every culture has its own definition of style but when it comes to basics being innovative and coordinated are common everywhere. Having the ability to mix the unique in a way that is eye-catching is no easy task. Those who have managed to change trends or create their own niche are admirable. Products that go into details about how the unique style was developed and showcase defining pieces will be rated higher. This is because it takes a masterful individual to create unique apparel that becomes desired by the world. Exploring the creative process and breaking down the construction and inspiration behind defining pieces will be of immense importance to the reader.

Value

When purchasing a coffee table book, it’s nice to have something that is intriguing and visually inspiring. If a book is too dense it may be better served in a study. Every one of these books possesses interesting photography in some aspect. The best for leisurely reading will have stunning pictures with little nuggets of interesting information. As far as value each product will be evaluated based on its readability. Another thing to consider is how exclusive each book is. Collector’s item’s and hard to get books will be more valuable. The content of every item will determine the benefit it will have for the reader. Items that have an easy flow and storytelling format will be rated higher because of its ability to pull the reader into the story. Consideration will also be given for innovative artistic touches and full disclosure of fashion lines that changed history.

Versatility

While staying within a particular niche is important industry buffs may want a more flexible item. Even if an item is more dynamic it’s important that each product is organized for ease when thumbing through its pages and possessing chapters that make sense for what a reader wants at that particular moment. A good example would be when looking for a particular item or seasonal line it’s cataloged and put into its own chapter or made easy to find. When materials aren’t put into an order that creates an effortless flow it can get very frustrating for the reader. It’s worse if an item is pricey and the creator didn’t care enough to format it properly and make it simple for the customer. Dynamic work is defined by the ability to show many aspects of the work of the artist and tell their history without making it seems jumbled together. This is the mark of a great auto-biography or catalog.

Effectiveness

Imagine a book being effective for learning about your favorite craft in a comprehensive way. The mind of a person that has changed history is valuable in itself. Those who want to be inspired and follow their own personal legends need a work that is thorough and accurate. Personal memoirs and autobiographies are the best way to understand the amount of vision and perseverance it takes to become a legend. The effectiveness of these products will be rated based on their ability to inspire and inform the reader. An empty vision profits no one. It’s important for items to give accurate re-tellings of events and offer minimally a description about photographs and sketches. This gives the reader some background and insight into the mind of a leading industry trendsetter or today or times past.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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expert tips icon
Salvatore Ferragamo

With most fashion designers more concerned about appearance over comfort, Ferragamo truly stands out in this context. Not only was he focused on creating gorgeous footwear, but he wanted to ensure they felt as good as they looked. In order to achieve this, Ferragamo went to university and studied anatomy to learn everything he could able the foot.

Alexander McQueen

If you want to spot an Alexander McQueen original, then you want to look for the piece that is bold and dark. His style can easily be described as gothic and romantic, with a huge flair for the macabre. Violence is also depicted within his work, and this point is driven home by the fact that his very first line of clothes was inspired by Jack the Ripper.

Other Factors to Consider

Bottom Line

This is a collection of inspiring classic books that anyone into the creative process and lives of people who seemed larger than life. Every shoe lover will appreciate diving into times past and understanding the mechanics of overcoming personal struggle. Many of these individuals were visionaries and styled items that became the look of an era. A lot of past styles can even influence future styles and allow the reader to get a feel for a generation. Viewing exclusive sketches and rare items can also give more of a personal view of the artist at hand. All in all, fashion is an art. Shoemaking is elevated by the artists and any creation that opens the mind of people will become a fast favorite. If it was easy to define an age and era anyone would do it, these people are truly special and deserve reverence.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: What makes a good coffee-table book?

a:

A coffee table book should have stunning images and interesting facts. This will make the book easy to thumb through when snuggling up with a throw and a hot cup of coffee.

q: What is the best kind of purchase to make if I want an item that goes over the details of footwear?

a:

It’s best to buy an item that goes into the thought process of the creator and details of the collection. This will add a little more of a technical approach to those who want to get into the nitty-gritty of shoemaking.

q: What is a benefit of reading an inspiring story?

a:

The biggest benefit is the good feeling you get. Knowing that someone had to overcome allows you to feel you can overcome as well. This also gives a more well-rounded and detailed view, redefining legends and seeing them for the people they truly are.

q: How can I be sure that an item won’t be oversized when I’m purchasing it?

a:

Simply checking the dimensions of a product and the number of pages will help to ensure it’s not too big for the space in which it will be displayed.

Sources

  1. Sue Huey & Kathryn Kenny, 12 Books on Shoe Design, Blog Post
  2. Margaret Sutherlin, 9 Shoe Books To Add To Your Collection, Entertainment Article
  3. Nina Zipkin, Steve Madden on The Question You Must Ask Yourself, Interview Article
  4. Unknown, FASHION; WHO'S WHO IN HIGH-STYLE SHOE DESIGN, Fashion Article
  5. Jonathan Walford, History of Women's Shoes, History Facts