I’m looking into study footwear design but I have no design background, just marketing. I have always love shoes since being a kid and have decided to pursue something that I’m passionate about.
Basically, I don’t really want to move full-time into product design for a major company but more so understand the shoe design and development process to develop my own brand to either retail or wholesale.
What would you recommend doing as far as footwear design courses? I have noticed there are alot of footwear courses that include product design, pattern making thru to the final product. Is this the right path?
I’ve looked into courses in the UK at London School of Fashion, Italy and Australia. Can you recommend any others.
I studied at De Monfort University, as did Hotmix, but he’ll probably be able to tell you more about the course than me because I graduated in 1991 and the course has changed alot. People who studied there? Head of design at Diesel, currently now head of design at Tsubo, owner of Tsubo brand, several designers at Reebok, GBMI, Head of Design at Shellys, Miss L Fire (I think the brand owner studied there), a footwear designer I know at Topshop, the Head of Design at Hi Tec, lots more, but I’d say the course might be geared more to brands and to mass market compared to LCF, which is more ‘designery’
London College of Fashion is also a degree course, (they didn’t offer a degree when I was studying). Many famous names from there - the likes of Patrick Cox, Olivia Morris, Georgina Goodman, Beatrix Ong, etc… historically spent more time on teaching to hand make than De Montfort did, but I don’t know now.
I think these two offer the only degree courses (please somone correct me if I’m wrong).
There is also the ARS Sutoria school in Milan, they offer shorter courses. I know one or two American designers who studied fashion degrees then, went there to get a footwear qualificaton in order to gain employment in the footwear trade.
There are many others but I dont know personally anyone who has studied there. Is there anyone else here who can help out/add to the info I’ve posted here??
I currently live in Melbourne, Australia and the shoe design courses here are very basis compared with what’s on offer overseas.
Reason I ask for courses in Europe particulary is I want to do 12 months abroad working and do a shoe course while I’m there and visit the trade shows in Europe and the US. Lot easier to do this from a base in London as oppose to Australia.
I had narrowed it down to LCF and De Monfort. I could only find one college in Florence but I will look into the one in Milan.
I think a short course at LCF or ARS Sutoria might be good - yes the Italain schools publish footwear magazines and trend forecasting information. That’s not a bad thing, as trends is such an important thing to understand if you want to design fashion shoes.
Yes, there is another Italian school, but I don’t know anyone who studied there, perhaps someone else does.
I think I have come across some short term courses in Northampton but cant rremember the nameof the institution. I think they are around 3 months and cover basic construction and footwear introduction.
Congrats on your decision. However before you make it into a reality there are several steps you can take. You can:
Enroll in a shoe design programme. The best one I’ve come across is Cordwainers college (Georgina Goodman www.georginagoodman.com attended)
There are also programmes in Italy. ARS ARPEL School has a very intensive and helpful 3 month course.
It is completely possibly to start your own shoe company without any shoemaking experience. Most shoes are made by factories not by the designer themselves.
I strongly recommend working for a shoe company (preferably a smaller one) so you can see exactly how they function and how you can improve. The goal is to take as much note as possible. (Who wears their shoes, who are their buyers, where can you find it to buy etc.)
You may start as an intern, or since you have prior marketing experience work in marketing, but pay close attention to the design team. Pour la Victoria just launched a shoe line in NYC and they get their shoes made in Brazil. If you want high end experience be willing to travel Jimmy Choo’s design studio is in London, as is Manolo Blahnik’s
If you decide not to work for a shoe company then you’re going to need alot of contacts. Which factories to use? Where to source materials? And most importantly how much is it going to cost?
If you are starting small and have enough funding (you wouldn’t believe how expense this all is) Then look into getting buyers. I suggest that for the first 2 seasons you are your own sales rep (saves money and you control the image of your brand).
Find out where all the trade shows are and the dates: SMOTA, WSA (the largest shoe show in North America) the Atlanta show, GSD (The largest show shoe in the world in Dusseldorf). Find out the requirements and the cost to run a booth with samples of your show.
Remember if you have a good factory and/or agent 50% of the work is done. Shoes can be made anywhere but the top three countries for shoe production is China, Brazil, Italy (the reverse order is true for quality!)
The best advice I can give is stay focused, be positive and do as much research as you can.