New Career move to Shoe Design- Need Advice.

I am finally taking the steps to pursue my passion for shoe design. I graduated with a BA 2 years ago and currently work in the Health Policy field, I like what I do but realize that this is not where my passion lies. I am working on creating my shoe design career map and need some sound advice. I have no experience or formal training in this field. I live in VA and realize that I need to relocate to NYC - currently looking at applying to FIT. I realize that the first thing I need to do is to take some drawing courses. I would love to hear from people who can provide some insight on steps that I should consider or avoid. Also, I need to find a job in NYC that will provide some experience or at least a foot in the door while I gain formal training. Please Advise! Thanks.


Hmmm, thats a tough one. FIT doesn’t have the best reputation here in NYC…but maybe they have some decent shoe design classes? I know Parsons has a pretty decent class- but the thing you need to distinguish between is “shoe” and “sneaker” design because they are totally different. I don’t know any place around here that offers “sneaker” design, just high-end fashion shoe design classes, and usually they are at the basic associate level. I know because i was interested in taking this path myself! If you find any such classes, please let me know.

The best advice i have to offer is to ask someone already in the field (obviously). Relocating to NYC is tough because the rent here is so damn expensive- hardly anyone can afford to live in Manhattan anymore, so they’re moving out to Brooklyn. Good luck on the job front- i know its really tough right now.

I don’t want to discourage you at all! I wish you the best of luck! NYC can eat you alive though if you’re not careful.

You may have to go to Europe if you want to study shoe design in depth. There is nowhere that can teach you how to do purely athletic shoe design, but I studied for a degree in footwear at De Montfort university and there were one or two athletic projects, plus in your final year you could choose to make only athletic footwear.

I did find that specialising in Footwear and getting a qualification in Footwear design made getting a job much easier when I graduated. Because there are so few specialist footwear courses in the world. Also because it is pretty much impossible to get a job here in the UK without a footwear qualification . (Fortunately we have quite a few schools)

Even if you wanted to do athletic and studied formal, I think knowledge of pattern cutting can really give you the edge over others. You will be able to design shoes that are manufacturable at least!

Anyway - there is a list of schools on this website.

Good luck!