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10+ Custom Shoe Design Ideas for Inspiration


Just like any apparel item, shoes are not exempt from following the latest trends in fashion, as they are an indispensable element of a complete look. Besides their functional purpose, footwear has become the canvas for designers to experiment with different patterns, materials, and styles. 

But have you ever had an image in mind of what your perfect pair of shoes look like, and no store has them? Thankfully, the industry of shoe customization has developed to allow you to customize shoes online from the comfort of your home. 

There are various print-on-demand (POD) footwear options available that can serve as a blank canvas for your unique designs. Whether you’re seeking your perfect pair of shoes or you have your footwear dropshipping business—in this post, you’ll learn the benefits of POD shoe customization and find various custom shoe design ideas for inspiration.

Why choose POD shoe customization

Delving into the art of shoe customization allows for personal expression and opens up opportunities for business ventures, especially when considering dropshipping products with a high-profit margin.

There are multiple techniques to customize your own shoes, such as painting, dyeing, bleaching, or stitching. However, for selling purposes, these customization methods can be time-consuming, require startup costs for materials, and cause difficulties in fulfilling large order volumes. 

At Printful, custom shoes are made using a sublimation printing technique that delivers vibrant and long-lasting prints by embedding the ink into the material. What’s best, if you have an online store and plan to add POD shoes to your ecommerce platform, you don’t have to worry about startup investments or inventory management. Your POD service provider will take care of all order fulfillment processes. Meanwhile, you’ll spend your time creating one-of-a-kind designs.

If you need inspiration to evoke your creativity, let’s explore custom shoe design ideas perfect for sublimation printing. 

1. Color variations

Simple and minimalistic shoes have always been in fashion as they seamlessly pair with anything in your wardrobe. For example, all-white shoes are timeless, establishing a clean and effortless look. But why not stand out and opt for other color variations when choosing a shoe design? 

From various tones of colors and color combinations to gradient prints, there are endless variations to design custom shoes. According to 2024 color trends, pastel blue and pink, neutral peach, and different tones of red are some of the colors that’ll be top-notch choices for designs this year, so try them out when you customize athletic footwear, pool slides, or casual slip-on canvas shoes 

2. Personalization 

A pair of personalized shoes adds a unique touch to footwear and can be sentimental items in your wardrobe. Names, initials, and monograms are some of the personalization ways to add a detailed personal touch and a sense of exclusivity to every step. 

Matching pairs of personalized shoes also make great gifts for family members, best friends, or a significant other. And even when worn out, these shoes will remain memorable because of their extraordinariness. 

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3. Typography 

Besides personalization with names or initials, you can also use other typography elements to make a custom shoe design. It’s common to incorporate acronyms, words, dates, and phrases into apparel items. Choosing the right background, font, and word or number placement in typography designs will create an aesthetic allure and convey a message. 

Allow your creativity to take over, and design personalized footwear with fun quotes. Or, if you’re a part of a corporation, you can design custom shoes with your company’s logo to provide all employees with a pair of shoes for the office. 

4. Animal prints

Wildlife has been an inspiration for various item designs. It’s a trend that cycles and has been reintroduced by designers multiple times. Whether clothes, accessories, home decor, or shoes, animal prints can build an eye-catching appeal to any item. 

In 2024, it’s forecasted that wild animal prints, especially jungle animals, will again be one of the trending prints. Although leopard, zebra, snake, and other animal prints are very common, they offer versatility in the way you interpret them. For example, to stand out, you can switch up these prints and make them unique by choosing different color variations than seen in nature. 

5. Pets and spirit animals

The countless pictures of your pet shouldn’t remain in your camera roll. You can bring these photos to life by creating a unique pair of shoes featuring a favorite picture of your beloved pet. 

Or, if you don’t own a pet but have a spirit animal, you can go beyond using their coat patterns; the animal itself is a fantastic element to incorporate into shoe design prints. 

6. Food elements

Fruits, vegetables, sweets, or other food items aren’t just a gastronomic delight but can also serve as creative elements in your wardrobe. Food elements are often seen in designs used for clothing, accessories, and shoes, achieving a playful and carefree look. 

Creating custom-printed shoes with your favorite treats will surely make a statement pair, representing your unique style. For example, pool slides with ice cream cones will be a perfect addition to a vacation wardrobe. Or custom high-top sneakers with a pizza-themed pattern—a definite conversation starter. 

7. Floral

According to the print trend forecast for 2024 spring and summer fashion collections, various florals will be commonly seen in apparel prints this year, thus making them a fashionable shoe design choice.

Florals are easy to style with other colors and they accentuate even the simplest outfits. Additionally, they are adaptable designs that can cater to various styles. From small ditsy flowers to bold blooms—changing the design, flower type, and color schemes can align with various aesthetics. 

8. Tropical

Tropical prints are similar to florals, except they’re inspired by tropical plants. If floral prints can be designed to align with all seasons, tropical patterns are more commonly seen in spring and summer fashion.

During these seasons, people often seek more breathable and lightweight shoe alternatives, elevating slip-on slides and flip-flops to the forefront of trending products. Tropical prints are perfect for these types of shoes as they add a vibrant pop of color to summer outfits and are ideal for running errands or hanging around the pool.

9. Abstract geometric 

Abstract geometric prints are timeless design ideas because of their diversity. There are endless ways to create an abstract design by combining different geometrical shapes, lines, and colors. Abstract prints are particularly advantageous in the world of fashion, as each of the designs can convert a different mood and style.

Some trendy abstract patterns currently include vertical or wavy lines, polka dot prints, and layered shape patterns. So, if you have ideas for a custom shoe aesthetic that truly captivates, let your creativity shine and experiment with the diversity of abstract designs. 

10. Checkered 

Checkered prints are popular in shoe designs among those who are into streetwear and skating. A widely known shoe brand, Vans, is commonly associated with this print, as in the early ’80s, they started to design shoes with their famous checkerboard print. 

Nowadays, many brands have drawn inspiration from Vans and adapted the style by creating their custom designs with a checkered pattern. However, checkered patterns extend beyond two-toned rectangles aligned to form a grid. Plaid is another common checkered print and is widely used for home textiles, flannel shirts, and, you guessed it—shoes!

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11. Pixel art

The retro-themed pixel art design, inspired by old-school video games, offers another creative idea for custom shoes. To achieve pixel art designs, you can choose almost any symbol and create pixel graphics using only a few colors. Whether on its own or incorporated into a repeating pattern, the pixel elements will deliver playful and nostalgic charm to customized shoes. 

a pair of shoes on a blanketSource: Printful 

12. Camouflage

Although camouflage print was initially designed for military purposes, now it’s a trendy pattern used in streetwear and casual fashion. When it comes to color schemes, camouflage patterns are no longer limited to earthy green tones in order to blend in with natural environments. In fashion, camo prints undergo creative approaches by using unique color variations, print density, as well as other artistic variations. 

A camouflage custom shoe design will go well with a casual sneaker for everyday wear or custom athletic shoes to accentuate workout gear. 

13. Doodle art

Doodle art on its own is a form of do-it-yourself (DIY) customization that can be used to design shoes. However, for an artist trying to sell custom shoes with their art, doodling can be time-consuming and requires early procurement of materials to fulfill orders. 

But what if we told you that you can become a footwear designer and use shoes as the canvas for your artwork without any inventory? With POD services, you can design shoes with your art and list them on an ecommerce platform. The orders are fulfilled on-demand by your POD partner. 

Doodle art has sharp and detailed lines, making it a particularly suitable form of artwork for print-on-demand custom shoes. Whereas with other art forms, like painting, the print outcome may not be as desired as it’s possible to lose small details and color blending in the printing process. 

Give it a try and express your creativity by creating your doodle art custom shoe designs. Choose lace-up canvas shoes, high-top canvas shoes, or another custom shoe style from our catalog. 

14. Tie-dye art

Similar to doodle art, fabric dyeing is another technique to customize shoes. Tie-dye prints are a fantastic shoe design choice to add a free-spirited appeal to any look. Now, it’s relatively easy to produce the results of this DIY technique on custom shoes, thanks to sublimation printing. 

All you need to do is choose a shoe style and customize it with a subtle single-color tie-dye print, or go all out and embrace the rainbow for a bold statement piece. 

a pair of legs wearing colorful shoesSource: Printful 

Time to step into the shoes of a designer

We hope these design ideas inspired you to become the designer of your custom footwear. Whether for personal use, gifts, or an addition to your online store, customizing shoes is an enjoyable journey that allows you to express your personal style and reflect your individuality. 

Now, go ahead and prepare your stunning designs!

PS Check out other best-selling print-on-demand products to consider for your online clothing or footwear store. 



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