Jobs in FootWHERE!!!

Having graduated in May 06, i have found it very difficult to get a full time job. This may be because i have narrowed myself of to men’s footwear, (meaning no high heels, as much as a do love seeing them on beautiful girls)
I must have been to about 6 maybe more interviews each with my portfolio which is quite student like with a lot of uni work, but also integrated with the work i have done for freelance with a couple of US and 1 UK jeans brand since leaving uni.

I am becoming more and more concerned that i will end up designing in the of just fashion, ok not the end of the world but its not quite what i had in mind when i went to uni.

  1. job i went for a interview in January, I was offered the position and was so happy that i would be starting the new year with a new job with a good salary. I was then told that due to a recruitment freeze the job would be put on hold till April. So i was pretty annoyed but ok i will just have to wait it out and hold tight. Contacted them again in April saying Im hear I want to work lets go, to be told we have just lost a senior designer we cannot take you on until july & till we replace the senior designer.

So I went back to the jeans brand on my hands and knee’s and said look I’m in London I need some work what can you offer me. Luckily they managed to give me a wee project. with a Northern Street clothing brand.

I was then contacted by a recruitment company in London for a job, the job was only temporary and it was in central London, but the catch was it was a technical role, an area which I only touched on at uni. Friday I went to the interview set out my stall as I was enthusiastic and would defiantly like to learn and thought I could offer a small amount of what they were originally looking for. Interview went well I thought.

Later that night the recruitment girl phones me up saying good start Monday £10 ph. As a Temporary technical developer.

I have been here 4 months checking sample’s, critical path, sorting box upon box of samples and generally doing everything apart from design or anything creative. And now they have now found the correct person for the job, as I wish to pursue my passion in footwear design.
There had been talk of oh Reuben why don’t you stay we need another footwear designer.
We like you fit in etc etc etc….

So having met with the Design Director I was set a project of updating 3 area’s of there footwear which I did in 1 ½ weeks, on top of doing my work. After presenting the work, I was told that okay you have done a good job but I cant tell you if you have or haven’t got the job, even if there was going to be a job.!!!

So I now find my self coming to the end of my last week with no knowledge of where the path to becoming a footwear designer will lead me. But thinking would life have been this easy if I had chosen to do Industrial / product design, even if I move to the states, surely they don’t have many people who are trained in actual footwear design.

The problem is lack of jobs,
lack of people letting graduates in and pay them something for learning
the lack of interesting footwear brands that try to do something different, not just pumping poor shoe after poor shoe in to the market.

Sorry for ranting at you all about how bad or how unsatisfying my current work situation is.

May be I will move to New Zealand and become a sheep farmer.

Hotmix :wink:
please excuse mild dyslexia

I hear your pain and think it is probably what we have all experienced.

The only thing you can do is keep doing. Knocking on doors, getting to knowing people, keep designing, updating your folio, knock on more doors etc. I am six years into my career as a designer and I still have some of the problems you outlined and it does make you feel down, what is the point etc. But i would much rather do this than dig a hole in the road or paint walls for the next 40 years so I kick on and keep trying and it does pay off.

Hang in there and try try try and try some more, just meet as many people as you can.

^Bespoke pretty much summed it up. The footwear design industry is a beast and you have to have a lot of heart and be very determined to get where you want to be. It’s not easy, but if you really want it you can have it eventually.

I always think back to a quote that I read by Tinker Hatfield:

“The best way to succeed in this business is to start failing.”

…and you definitely have to be willing to fail, learn from it, improve, and go at it again.

Keep your head up!


Hey Reuben,let’s go drink some beers.

Everything in life is time,everything goes step by step.

I think you need to stop worrying Reuben, the right job will come, it’s just that it can be a bit slow to get going at first when you graduate. All the exprerience you get from jobs that aren’t quite what you wanted will stand you in good stead.
Hell, when I graduated I found myself preparing ads for trade press and doing colourways for suncream bottles! Not what I’d expected.

You have alot of talent.

But please try not to limit yourself. My boss a few years ago encouraged me to try to learn to design as many categories as possible. I heeded that advice. I would starve as a freelancer if I decided to keep to one category. You know that my background is in athletic, but I do design a lot of womens footwear and there seems to be more opportunity in this category at the moment. Without this I wouldn’t have the money to live. I just got a really exciting athletic footwear project to work on, but I’ve had to be patient. I’ve had to adapt, I don’t offer just design, that’s too limiting.

Athletic footwear isn’t on trend as a fashion item as it has been in the past (in the UK marketplace), therefore that’s having an impact on how much work there is in this area too. This, of course will change, fashion being the fickle beast that it is.

Finally, I see lots of designers (usually the newbies) knocking the mass market, ‘it’s boring, unimaginative’ etc. etc.
It’s incredibly difficult to please all the people all of the time, it takes as much skill as it does to design the innovative stuff. I’ve seen designers really struggle in own label companies when they realise that it ain’t as easy as it seems, these are often the same ones who complain about it, and also designers who have made a real success of it, enjoy their jobs and start earning big salaries.

Having said that, I think yes, everyones playing it a bit safe, prices have plummeted, every customer I have moans about how tough it is out there.

Anyway, what would be the alternative for me? There is no way I could go back to being an emloyee, or take another kind of job, coz I’ve built a lifestyle that would make it unworkable (we live on a boat, we are on the move most summers, we have a dog). So I have to make compromises, we all do. I have to take on really dull speccing work sometimes, but I’d rather do that a million more times than take a temp job in a bar somewhere! I totally agree iwth Bespokes sentiments on this point, we ain’t going digging holes in roads any time too.

Whether you did ID or not, there isn’t room for everyone in the whole damn trade to work for Nike (or the other big sports brands). You can see from these boards that there are a zillion ID-ers that want to get a job there too. Just because you don’t work there, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. Find your niche and enjoy it! Hell you could get to Nike and find out you hate it, I know people who did! I once ended up working for a brand that I loved but ended up lasting just one month because I hated the culture there. You never know until you try, but I think that any limits we think we have often exist only in our own heads.

Try not to be downhearted!

Hello Reuben

thank you very much for reminding us how difficult it is and it was to get a decent situation

i am in the business since march 98, I started with an internship at the french company called Decathlon. I was 25 years old, with a master degree in anthroplogy. I am half a footwear designer since I never sat in a single industrial design course in my entire life.

Why??? Because i might have had something different?? I don’t know

something i am sure of is my passion, I love my job, I am not counting the hours, and i am always questioning the present, try to find in every company of interest how i can contribute to improve, evolve their success provoke a change. then I propose and impose my evolving methodology of work .

Your turn to Ask yourself what makes u different, valuable, Unique

try to meet, people in this field, find what are your weaknesses, while fostering your skills, listen, react and be flexible.?

be what we have never seen before, build your portfolio upon emotions, be unexpected

please look at this profile Coroflot — Design Jobs & Portfolios

i got suddenly old when I saw adrien’s web page.
u might see what i mean…

because you have been interviewed many times, even if it hurts, please try to brake that icy and /or diplomatic wall by asking what do they really think about your work,

what is your playyground, london, UK europe the world??? how far would you go??

clarify your own vision and most of all…don’t give up

all the best


Great Post.

One thing you do have, Reuben, is passion.

sheep farming in New Zealand couldnt be that bad, well am sure with that would be some excitement :slight_smile:

but anyways, I think your love for footwear sounds one sided. I understand you want to do mens and maybe not just fashion. BUT closing out fashion and womens could be closing off opportunities that maybe you never thought possible. Before I really got into footwear, all I was into was basketball shoes, and once in footwear did everything but basketball shoes for over 3 years. I have now started to do basketball shoes, but would now looking back wouldnt give up those years of doing other types of shoes. the things you learn and your eye for different details and now see footwear as a larger category/ range of products. I am not saying you should stop trying to get into what it is you desire and want to do, but am just saying maybe the other areas of footwear design (womens, fashion) is not as bad and with that you are building your experience and think with that make you a better candidate for a job. (much of what Shoenista has said)

also during these times of frustration, tunnel it, use it to power yourself an go mad man on us, busting out project after project an project, convincing a company that they would be insane NOT to hire you. maybe that is kinda extreme but if all fails. dunno maybe thats the jet lag talking…

you know not to get into all the details, but there was another designer on here who did footwear in europe/ london an over time came to the states and is doing it here. maybe she could be of some help. maybe she will post a reply or send her a message, her name is Jelena.

be well


What they said :slight_smile: ////\

Just keep trying and have confidence in yourself.

having had some experience in the field i can say without a doubt that sheep farming in new zealand is not all its cracked up to be.

thanks guys for the great replys and words of confidence.
much appreicated. It has spured me on and made me think that things will change.
I will stick at it and hope for the best some days you just wonder if its worth it you know what i mean.

Many many thanks

One last word. My business partner actually tried sheep farming (he has family in Australia and they own several sheep farms).

It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, you know. The herd caught a disease and the cost of the vaccine per sheep was going to be more than the cost of selling that sheep at the market. Desperate times called for desperate measures.
So they got him to dig huuge hole, then, the family being really tight, gave him 200 bullets and a gun and told him he had to shoot dead 400 sheep.

Sheep might be stupid but they’re not that stupid, to stand patiently in rows.

So he refused, came home to the UK and we set the business up.

(True story give or take a decade :laughing: )

i wish i had some good and profound to say, but i got nothin’ so i will just add that networking is also can play a part in getting that gig, working that could be one way of not only getting your work in front of the necessary people but also some candid opinions of your work and where and how you can improve it…

good luck man!!!

ive been attacked by nearly every animal on the planet, and the only one that got me good was a sheep. now i try to use as much sheep leather in my shoes as possible.

OOOOoooooooooooh…THAT’s why the sheep are nervous in Australia. I thought it was for a completely different reason!