- Design shoes and other footwear for fashion houses or retailers
- Highly creative work, combined with technical knowledge of footwear production techniques
- Opportunities to travel, to progress into senior roles or become a freelance designer
As a footwear designer, you could work in high-end fashion, designer ready-to-wear, or high street fashion.
- Creating 'one off' designs (haute couture)
- Basing your designs on a theme for the coming season (ready-to-wear, high street)
- Using computer aided design (CAD) software, graphics packages and traditional hand-drawing techniques to create your designs
- Researching design ideas
- Following a brief
- Adapting existing designs
- Working closely with the design team
- Producing samples before agreeing the final design
- Sending technical instructions to the manufacturers to produce the final product
You'll often work long hours and at weekends in order to meet deadlines like at the launch of a new collection. You may travel for research, visiting art galleries, trade shows, or locations abroad that are linked to a theme. You could work in a creative studio, from home or in a workshop.
To be a footwear designer, you'll need accuracy and attention to detail, creativity, flexibility and an openness to change, active listening skills, thinking and reasoning skills, excellent verbal communication skills, ambition and a desire to succeed, and the ability to use basic computer software.
You can get this job through a degree or postgraduate qualification in footwear design, or a fashion design qualification that includes footwear.
You could get this job through an apprenticeship in fashion and textiles, specialising in footwear.
Paid or unpaid work experience will give you an advantage when looking for work.
You could start as a design assistant in a studio and learn on the job. With further training, you could begin to produce your own designs.
A useful tip to become a footwear designer is to put together a portfolio of work that you can take along to interviews. This should include designs, technical drawings and mood boards to show your creative talents.
The British Fashion Council, Creative Choices, and the British Footwear Association all have more information about careers in footwear design.
With experience within a company, you could progress to senior designer, design director or head of department. You could also become a freelance designer, employed by companies to work on specific projects, or become self-employed and launch your own collection.