Recommended Footwear Design Courses

Hi everyone

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.

Any advise would be a massive help.


are you interested in athletic of more traditional fashion footwear?


Hi R

I’m interested in traditional fashion footwear.



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?? (under schools) lists many schools

can’t add much in the way of fashion footwear school. I’ve heard of the programs that shoenista mentioned, and from what I know are pretty good.

where are you located?


Hi Shoenista

Thank you so much for this information. I’ll look into ARS Sutoria and De Monfort. Thanks for the link too. Huge help.



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.

Hi again

I have had a look at De Monfont and they only offer degree courses. I forgot to mention that I was looking either for a course completed in three months full-time or part time for 6 months.

I have had a look at ARS Arpel and sent them an email for more information.

I have also found a college called Moda Pelle Academy with a course that would be appriopriate. Have you heard anything about this course???

I have noticed both of the colleges in Italy are directly associated with a magazine publishing house.



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.


I would definatly have a look at DMU (De Montfort)

Since i left last year they have recruited a new head of footwear, which i believe will help direct the course bette than when i was there.

If you want to learn how a shoe is construced and made as well as the freedom to be able to design the footwear whih you want, wether it be trainers or formal fashion based.

Northampton has also in the last couple of years started its own footwear course.

Also I have heard that Coventry may be opening a footwear course with the focus more around design… they have a very strong Car design course there.

The choice is entirely up to you. Leicester (DMU) was a great place to be a student, i really enjoyed my time there.

Please have a look at all my posts and you can see some of the work that i did whilst i was at uni.

All the best

Dear user,

Congrats on your decision. However before you make it into a reality there are several steps you can take. You can:

  1. Enroll in a shoe design programme. The best one I’ve come across is Cordwainers college (Georgina Goodman attended)

There are also programmes in Italy. ARS ARPEL School has a very intensive and helpful 3 month course.

  1. 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?

  1. 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.

Good luck I hope it helped