Photo credit: Savannah College of Art and Design

Top Footwear Design Schools for Sustainable Innovation

Header: Savannah College of Art and Design

When we discuss designing products, it’s crucial to recognize the significant role that footwear plays, similar to carefully crafted accessories or innovative gadgets. Fashion mavens know it’s the shoes, handbag, belt, and hat that make the outfit. But what matters as much as a great look? Super performance. How these pieces work on the body makes a huge difference to how the wearer walks, runs, moves, feels, and lives.

For those interested in creating sustainable, inventive, and high-quality products, D5 has compiled a guide for individuals aspiring to see their designs embraced worldwide.

Creativity is all that matters in most of the schools we researched, but their technical curricula are also top-notch. From staff comprised of industry leaders to the latest technologies, from workshops to traditional craftsmanship, you are sure to find your perfect academic match below.

University of the Arts London, London College of Fashion – MA in Footwear

The University of Arts London (UAL) is one of the most prestigious universities in the design world, known for its complete design programmes that range from fashion to furniture – and footwear design, of course. Its London College of Fashion encompasses a wide range of courses focused on craftsmanship, such as bags, artefacts, and accessory design, all part of its Craft Programme.

This Footwear Master’s Level course is part of UAL’s Craft Programme and is considered one of the most comprehensive out there. It understands footwear design as any design for the lower extremities, so its teaching and technical approach are suitable for any kind of footwear style. Through this Master’s, students are introduced to various industries, brands, and educational institutions, which gets them ready for the future as they learn all there is about research, networks, and the notions of shoe design.

Photo credit: Ideal Insight
Photo credit: Ideal Insight

Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) – Footwear and Accessories Design BFA

This program nurtures your personal design vision while teaching you the skills you need to create marketable products that consumers crave. With close ties to the industry — part of the multibillion-dollar global fashion system — we connect you with a wide range of networking and career opportunities. You’ll learn to create footwear, handbags, and small leather goods from concept to finished product, while exploring technology, advanced materials, and sustainability.

Footwear and Accessories Design BFA offers advanced, hands-on study of design, incorporating nontraditional and sustainable materials along with traditional ones. You’ll visit prominent showrooms, design studios, and production sites in the fashion and design capital of the world. A required internship provides industry experience and you’ll graduate with a professional-quality portfolio.

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology – Certificate IV in Custom-Made Footwear

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) is well respected among the academic community as one of the best in the fields of art, design, engineering, and architecture, among many (many) others. Their Fashion and Textiles courses help shape the world of design by educating the designers of the future, so it’s no wonder we decided to include their Custom-Made Footwear Certificate here.

This certificate is equivalent to 12 months in a BA, so it is the perfect choice for people who either want to further their design knowledge or those who don’t feel like spending 3 years studying but still want to learn all the skills they need to make it big in the design world. In this course, you’ll learn how to design and produce your own footwear, learning all the skills necessary to work in every stage of the construction process – design, cutting, and sewing.

Photo credit: John Goslings
Photo credit: John Goslings

University of Northampton – BA Honours in Fashion, Textiles, Footwear, and Accessories (Top-Up)

The University of Northampton (UON) is one of the youngest universities in the UK, however, it is already shaking the waters through its unique approach to education. Its main goal is to cause positive social impact in communities through its graduates.

Their BA Honours in Fashion, Textiles, Footwear, and Accessories offers quite a comprehensive array of subjects where the students are given the chance to upgrade their previous knowledge in design. For this reason, we advise you to already have a BA before applying, since not only would you find the course more enriching, but it would also be better for your CV and education overall. Through specialist workshops with expert staff and traditional and digital technologies, you are sure to learn all there is to the footwear industry while also exploring your own passions.

Photo credit: University of Northampton
Photo credit: University of Northampton

De Montfort University – BA Honours in Footwear Design

De Montfort University has been ranked as one of the best fashion schools in the world multiple times due to their innovative approaches to education. With a long history and major partnerships, it’s no wonder it is still one of the most sought-after universities for fashion designers worldwide.

As one of the oldest available courses in the footwear and, especially, cordwainer and pattenmaker industries (more than 100 years), their BA Honours in Footwear Design is definitely a strong choice for designers worldwide. With a very practical programme, students will be able to learn hands-on while receiving the advice of industry professionals and big brands, receiving not only invaluable insights on how the industry works but also creating a strong network for their future. . From drawing to illustration, biomechanics to prototyping, you’ll learn all the skills necessary to share your designs with the world.

Photo credit: CPMG Architects
Photo credit: CPMG Architects

Parsons School of Design – Shoe Construction

At Parsons School of Design Shoe Construction elective course aspiring designers will immerse themselves in the intricate world of shoe design and craftsmanship. From stitching to sole-making, students will craft their first prototypes, paving the way for future footwear masterpieces.

In this hands-on journey, expect to stretch your creative muscles and build a sturdy foundation in both design principles and technical know-how. While no prior shoe-making experience is required, a basic understanding of patternmaking is recommended.

Savannah College of Art and Design – M.F.A. in Sneaker Design

We couldn’t miss the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) on our list, as so many of our interviewees have passed through its doors. This prestigious university offers more degrees and specialisations in art and design than any other university in the world, which makes their courses highly complete and the student life fun and diverse.

Their M.F.A. in Sneaker Design promises to teach everything from prototype to production, from marketing to merchandising, and from design culture to global distribution. With this masters degree, the graduates have the tools needed to either start their very own footwear brand or join a major company. As no detail is missed, you are sure to learn more about your passion for shoe design while learning the niches and mainstreams of the industry.

Photo credit: Savannah College of Art and Design
Photo credit: Savannah College of Art and Design

Arsutoria School – Shoe One-Year Diploma

Arsutoria has been training shoe and bag designers in Milan, Italy, since 1947, connecting students with industry leaders and giving them all the tools they need to become one. As the name of the course states, this is a one-year course, however, don’t get scared by the name since it is one of the most complete out there – normally, short is concise, which is probably the best when you want to let your creativity have full reign.

In this one year shoe design course, you’ll learn about traditional artisanal techniques, digital tools, and design culture, all of which will help you figure out what works best for your particular vision. In the first 10 weeks, you’ll learn how to design a shoe, both by hand and digitally. Next, you’ll learn how to conceive prototypes for several types of shoes for a total of five intense weeks. Afterwards, you’ll be able to work on one of your early designs for five weeks, finishing everything up with an eight-week intensive class on 3D design softwares – the whole package!

Photo credit: Arsutoria School
Photo credit: Arsutoria School

Accademia del Lusso, School of Fashion and Design – Shoes & Accessories Design

Accademia del Lusso is located right in one of the most exclusive fashion neighbourhoods in Milan, providing, therefore, much more than just a stellar education. Here, the students are introduced to the industry early on, are put into small classes so the teachers can get to know them individually, and are allowed to completely personalise the course contents. The intent is for students to discover what they love and to feel connected to their dream while always being pushed by the Accademia del Lusso to turn passion into a profession.

The Shoes & Accessories Design course lasts an intense one year and provides students with the skills, knowledge, and expertise required to work for major brands worldwide. From trend research to colour research, from pattern making to branding, students are introduced to the “ins and outs”, graduating prepared to face any challenges the fashion industry might pose them with.

Photo credit: Turismo Roma
Photo credit: Turismo Roma

Accademia Riaci – Shoe Design

The Accademia Riaci is located in Florence, Italy, the capital of Renaissance art, and has been open since 1983. Its founder, Maestro Raymond Riaci, wanted to create a school where students could drink from the creative genius of the best Italian artists and learn the irreplaceable techniques that have been around for centuries. Now a vibrant institution with a student body from over 50 countries, the Accademia inspires people from the many fields of art: design, crafts, languages, and more.

In their one-year Shoe Design course, students will create a collection of their own, where they can make all of the creative and logistical decisions. From learning how to research all the information needed to launch a collection to studying colour theory, from learning about market trends and the uniqueness of every material, students are expected to follow their free ideas and, eventually, learn everything needed to start working as professionals.

Photo credit: Accademia Riaci - International School of Arts, Design, Cooking, and Italian Language in Florence, Italy
Photo credit: Accademia Riaci – International School of Arts, Design, Cooking, and Italian Language in Florence, Italy

Italian Fashion and Design Academy – Shoes Design

Yet another Italian design school, the Italian Fashion and Design Academy (IFDA) is located in the heart of Milan and is recognised internationally for its courses and masters in the fashion and design spheres. Here, students mingle with industry-leading companies and professionals, combining this unique advantage with classes taught by some of the best professors out there.

IFDA’s Shoe Design course not only teaches students how to create any type of shoe they desire, it also allows students to attend workshops and seminars with prestigious professionals who can give them all the tips they need to enter and succeed in the footwear design industry – plus, a little network never hurts anybody.

Photo credit: FDA Italian Fashion and Design Academy
Photo credit: FDA Italian Fashion and Design Academy
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