July 17, 2014

11 Criteria For Choosing Best School to Learn Footwear Design

Do you want to become a footwear designer? Where should you learn this profession?

The options are limitless, there is a hand full of short courses, long courses, universities that offer footwear design degrees, workshops etc.
Since I started blogging I've been asked many times to guide where is the best place to learn footwear design, so follow that you could work as a footwear designer for a company or develop your own line.

 I don't have the address or a name of a school to tell you, but based on my own experience and struggles in this post I will guide you what you need to look for when you search for footwear design school.

Learn Footwear design: What you need to look for and what to ignore

1. 90% design courses  

Most of the courses must be about design, no marketing for beginners or management courses. This way you won't learn both. It is serious professions and deserves a proper education.


2. Unclear courses definition

Watch out for undefined courses. If you don't understand what you will learn in this course it's probably something that you don't need. Find out exactly what you will learn in this course. 

3. Pattern making 

This is must have a course in your footwear design education. As a designer, you must understand how to construct shoes and not only to make beautiful drawings. It will help you in your work as a freelance designer or working for a company. Designer stands in the head of the shoemaking process, and the key to successful production lays in his knowledge.


4. Making Prototypes

Make sure that you learn to make most of the classic shoe models. You must learn how to make their patterns and to finish each of this models prototypes. Don't be satisfied just making one model prototype, although the process is similar there is much differentness that you need to know. Take your time to view shoe making process, how everything is made, it will help you in your creative process as well.


5. Learning and making shoe molds

There are many different types of lasts, knowing the types and the difference between them will give you wider perception of footwear design possibilities.


6. Shoemaking Software

In today's world, you must know how to work with different CAD programs to create design and pattern. That is what will be asked of you working as a footwear designer.

Note: CAD skills will never replace your pattern making knowledge, they work together.

7. Technical drawing

Don't be fooled by the beautiful drawings that you see on school brochures. Most of them are unprofessional and useless for your education. Right footwear design drawing is technical and must contain all the right proportions. So look for technical drawing lessons.


8. Teaching staff 

Read about who will teach you this profession, get familiar with their work. The age here is less important as their experience. In many places I can see that they employ their own, just graduated students. The problem with that is, they will not give you any additional value as a teacher, just because they don't have the experience.


9. Famous names

Recently my student sent me an info about a school, to hear my advice. First thing I noticed on their site is names of famous designers; Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Sergio Rossi etc. It got even me fooled. Those designers had no connection to this school. They write those names just to draw your attention.  


10. Internship

This is one of the most important points that you need to look for when searching for footwear design school if it offers an internship. The best way to learn is on the job training. In most cases, it will give you much more impact than everything you learned.


11. Footwear Collection

To know if you are in the right profession, at the end of your course, degree or whatever you will choose to go for, must be a footwear collection that was made by you. Your final work as a footwear designer student must be evaluated based on the collection that you will make.


This list is based on my educational journey, on a struggles that I had and wrong decisions that I made. I can't go back in time and I'm not sure that I will like to, but knowing everything I know, maybe I would act differently and achieve my goals faster.
I hope this short list will help you to make the right decision, and if you already have, don't worry as life is unstop learning process.

Was this post useful for you or you want to ask a question? I want to know what you think so write it in the comment below.   

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Sveta Kletina

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  1. Sveta – the info on schools has been very helpful. Being in the footwear industry building lines / Marketing / Sales etc. etc. I think Sveta hit the nail on the head. Everything she is saying is correct. Just because you design does not mean you are a shoemaker – just like making one pair shoes does not make you a designer. Sveta teaches a full balance of knowledge in design and shoemaking which most schools do not.

    To me “design is an endless drawings of ideas – shoemaking is endless honing of a your craft” they all go hand in hand. Thanks for a great article.


  2. Sveta, I love your articles and the daily notes. Is your course offering full enough to cover the list of criteria above. I’ve taken a couple courses-hobbiest at best. One was great the other awful. I’d love to learn more about this craft, I’m just afraid that I’ll spend a ton of money and be no better off. I’m ready to sign up, I’d just like to make sure I’m going to get what I need!!! You are an amazing instructor. I can’t wait to make your flip flop design you demonstrated! Also, can you tell me how to add some arch support to that sandle?

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