crocs blog

Inside Crocs- Men’s Footwear Design with Cheng Kue

Posted on: May 13, 2010

Cheng Kue, Senior Designer for Men's Footwear

Late last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of our men’s footwear designers. Meet Cheng Kue, Senior Footwear Designer for the Men’s product line:

Why Crocs?

This is a great opportunity for me since Crocs is a young company. To be able to come in and make a big difference in terms of design –not everything is set in stone. So, there are still a lot of processes and designs that I could come in and impact.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration is grounded in my product background. My inspiration comes from the automotive industry. You can look at automotives as a transportation design, and, I think, as footwear designers we are also considered transportation designers. Designing footwear has to go beyond functionality. Consumers have an emotional connection to their footwear.  I look at creating new trends, and at other industries like transportation, furniture, architecture — basically any types of products in the market that are creating a buzz or have something more to give than just a fad.

In your opinion, how has technology advanced footwear design?

The great thing about technology is that it’s actually made life a lot easier. We have these great tools to be able to utilize and are able to create the products we visualized in our minds. From a process standpoint, a lot of the sketching still starts as a thumbnail sketch in a sketchbook. But, it evolves from that by using the Wacom Cintiq (a digital tablet). By using softwares such as Alias Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop and Illustrator you can really create something stunning and show off the overall product as opposed to doing everything with a marker. These tools bring it to life both rapidly and efficiently.

What are some common trends you see emerging in the footwear design industry?

Well, Crocs has created its own trend with molded footwear. Before Crocs ever got into the market, you seldom saw molded footwear. It was definitely more boutique. When Crocs came into the market, we came in with the Cayman/Classic and received acceptance from the consumer that wearing fully molded footwear was okay, to where it was in common use. I think we have started to combine many different types of common silhouettes that we would see in a regular shoe and made it ours and that’s truly the way to be successful.

What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing a career in footwear design?

As a footwear designer, you should take in everything you’ve learned as a product designer. You have to kind of rework it and think a little differently. It’s a special breed to be really successful in footwear. You can’t think of footwear as another PDA (personal digital assistant). I mean footwear doesn’t really work like that. It’ all about taking the old and creating the new and then coming to the table with something that is commercial and compelling. And I think, as designers, we’re always trying to create something compelling not just commercial. The opposite of that would be to create something completely commercial but never compelling without any point of view. As designers, we have to almost take ourselves out of our own “what would I wear” mode and design for what the target consumer would wear.

How do you measure success?

In footwear, people measure success in the amount of pairs you sell. But for me, my personal successes were not in the highest selling shoes but with the shoes that made the biggest impact, the biggest difference in the industry, and stood out to the consumer. You can design shoes that are very commercial, like I said, you’ll sell lots of them but you won’t make any kind of compelling story or your story won’t be heard.

Success, in my career, has always been about the products that push the limit of what goes on your foot. I think of footwear as more than just a shoe, it has to be something more than that if you really want to push the boundaries of what a shoe represents. I’ve had many successes in designing basketball and running shoes that have made both a statement and introduced unheard-of technology in the market.

At Crocs, I will feel successful when I see men truly accept wearing fully-molded products, or true Crocs products, and really stand behind them because of what it represents not because of what people tell them.

13 Responses to "Inside Crocs- Men’s Footwear Design with Cheng Kue"

Awesome post. Cheng, if you came up with the Crocs Modi Flip design, kudos to you. If you did not, well kudos to you for the other shoes you created at Crocs. They are terrific.

Can you design better arch supports or design a style that has high arch supports? After wear the 4 different style I have I find after being in them
for over 4 hours my archs ache.

Thanks

“When Crocs came into the market, we came in with the Cayman/Classic”. Actually, you came in with the BEACH, which appears to be being airbrushed from history for some odd reason – odd, because it was a great shoe (and, IMO, better looking than the Cayman/Classic, as well as a nudge more comfortable)

Hi Mike, the Beach is alive and well. You can find it here: http://www.crocs.com/crocs-beach/10002,default,pd.html?cid=511&q=beach

Thanks for the feedback, Peggie. I will definitely pass the info along to our product design team.

CHENG, THANK YOU FOR YOUR GREAT DESIGNS IN CROCS. IM HOOKED BIG TIME. THATS ALL MY WIFE & I WEAR. BUT I HAVE REAL BAD FLAT FEET & ARTHRIS IN BOTH ANKELS, THERE BONE ON BONE, DO YOU MAKE CROCS FOR MY SITUATION. I HOPE THIS COMPANY ALL WAYS SERVIVES, I HAVE NEVER OWNED SOMTHING SO COMFORTIBLE IN MY LIFE. EVEN MY ORTHIPIDIC DOCTOR WEARS NOTHING BUT CROCS. THANK YOU AGAIN & WHO EVER IN VENTED THESE. RICK

Hey Rick, thanks so much for your kind words. Have a great weekend!

Cheng, Thanks for the great designs you and your team create! I am one of the 15 semifinalist in the Crocs Ambassador Contest! I mention that because I have been impressed with your drive to create great molded footwear for all walks of life. It is evident that you are not willing to just be satisfied with where Crocs is now. Not only does your team expertly handle the creative part, your engineers and fabricators do a great job bringing it to market! Thanks for keeping Crocs edgy, reliable, durable and fun!

I have heel pain and crocs have been awesome for relieving the heel pain and providing support.

Are there any Crocs running shoes? I would like to have the support while I am running. I know a guy ran the Honolulu Marathon wearing Crocs.

Hi Sanjay, unfortunately we don’t have a running shoe, but stay tuned for some lace-up options in the coming months!

I am disappointed that the Sobek is not available anymore. What’s up and why is this style not available? I did not buy a pair of Crocs last summer (greatly needed) and I guess I will not be able to again this year.

We moved away from Sobek to support some more innovative constructions & technologies. Sobek will likely be available again in 2011 at select retail partners. Feel free to check back with us later this year and we can direct you to the best retail partner. Are there certain qualities about the Sobek you liked? We may be able to help you find a comparable style.

Hi there – I am also a big fan of the design and construction of Crocs and would buy any running shoe design the company put out – I am a marathoner and love the idea of being able to hose off my shoes after a long run – and no stinky smell like with my Nikes – please Crocs start making some running shoes! I will buy five pair.

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