Career as Footwear Designer

Career as a Footwear Designer

About Footwear Designer

Footwear Designing is a dynamic field of fashion design. A career in the field of Footwear Designing is for those designers who have a particular interest in shoes. Footwear designers come up with creative and innovative ideas for shoes and other footwear. These designers work for various footwear brands, fashion houses, high street stores, catalog companies and specialist manufacturers of leisure and sportswear. A Footwear Designer is responsible for creating designs for many different types of footwear, researching design ideas, communicating with customers and suppliers, understanding different materials and their usage, sketching ideas by hand or using computer programmes, working closely with the design team, analysing requirements as per the season and developing strategies for all products.

Eligibility to become Footwear Designer

The industry of Footwear Designing has become highly competitive these days, so it is important for those entering this career path to have a thorough knowledge of the fashion industry. Most Footwear Designers start their career after gaining a degree or an HND in fashion, art, and design or a related subject. However, one must also possess various skills to become a Footwear Designer. Apart from having drawing skills, one should have a flair for colour, texture, and patterns, the ability to visualise designs and use computer design software and strong organisational and interpersonal skills.

The process to become a Footwear Designer is elaborated below:

Subject Combination – Any Stream in class XII

Entrance Exams – FDDI AIST, NIFT

There are Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Diploma and Certificate courses available in India’s leading footwear institutes.

Eligibility Criteria

For Undergraduate/Diploma/ Certificate Programs:

Candidates must have cleared their 10+2 in any stream.

For Postgraduate Diploma Courses:

Candidate must be a graduate in any stream of education.

Note: Admission to most of these courses is done through entrance exams. Footwear technology courses are offered as B.Tech/M. Tech programs, which are open only to science or engineering students.

Types of Job Roles Footwear Designer

The profession of a Footwear Designer is competitive, demanding yet lucrative. One can showcase his/her creativity and innovation by choosing this career option. By entering this field, one can choose to work for a footwear manufacturer, brand or retailer. One can also work for footwear companies on specific projects, sportswear companies, designer labels, at both junior and executive levels. After gaining significant experience, one can progress to senior designer, design director or head of the department. Following are some of the job profiles for a Footwear Designer that one can opt for:

Retail Store Managers (Shoes):

They oversee day-to-day retail operations and staff. Their job is to monitor the workflow and schedules. These managers must be familiar with the products sold in their store and any current and upcoming sales and promotions.

Footwear Product Developers:

They work closely with the shoe designer to launch and develop footwear designs with manufacturers. Their job is to collaborate between material suppliers, agents, and factories, and develop collection plans according to price targets, seasonal needs, and previous sales data.

Footwear Technician:

The primary function of this role is to be responsible for the technical development of shoes. Footwear Technicians are responsible for ensuring that prototypes/samples fit the required standard through internal and external fit sessions.

Footwear Development Manager:

They oversee the specifications process and develop products that meet or exceed the predetermined gross margin targets. Their responsibility also includes communicating the specifications and product details to the sourcing organization and suppliers.

Footwear Merchandisers:

Their main responsibility is to assist with the planning of the life cycle of footwear products, for both retail stores and the online business.

Employment Opportunities for Footwear Designer

Nowadays there is a great scope of work for Footwear Designers. In order to bag a good job as a Footwear Designer, one must have extraordinary skills. There are ample employment opportunities for Footwear Designers in retail buying, sales and marketing, and in footwear manufacturing. Some highly experienced Footwear Designers can also do freelancing and work for different fashion houses. Some of the sectors/industries where a Footwear Designer can find employment opportunities are listed below:

  • Design consultancy firms
  • Footwear production and
  • Trading
  • Retail and wholesale
  • Import or export industry
  • Merchandising
  • Product Manufacturing
  • Corporate businesses

Top Recruiting Companies for Footwear Designer

Few of the leading recruiting companies where a Footwear Designer can find employment opportunities are mentioned below:

  • Converse
  • Adidas
  • Camper
  • Crocs
  • Nike
  • Puma
  • Bata
  • Skechers
  • Flex
  • Action Shoes
  • Liberty Group
  • Woodland
  • Lee Cooper

Pay Scale/Salary of Footwear Designer

Salary of a footwear designer depends upon where one works. Whether one has been hired by some company, or he/she works as a freelancer or is a self-employed/entrepreneur. The salary of a Footwear Designer usually increases with experience in this field.

Following is the relative salary figure for different Footwear Designer job profile:

Job Profile

Starting Salary per annum (in INR)

Mid Level Salary per annum (in INR)

Senior Level Salary per annum (INR)

Retail Store Manager

184,216

360,505

767,620

Note: The above figures are an estimate and may vary from individual to individual and company to company.

Books & Study Material to Become Footwear Designer

Candidates who wish to enter the field of Footwear Designing should have good manual dexterity and a flair for fashion and foresight regarding upcoming trends in the industry. Besides this, candidates must be aware of the best books for a career in Footwear Designing that can impart knowledge about shoe design and production.

Some Footwear Designing books are listed below:

  • Shoes A-Z: Designers, Brands, Manufacturers and Retailers by Jonathan Wolford
  • Footwear Design (Portfolio Skills: Fashion & Textiles) by Aki Choklat
  • New Shoes: Contemporary Footwear Design by Rebecca Proctor
  • Handbook of Footwear Design and Manufacture edited by A. Luximon
  • How to Start a Shoe Design Business by Becci Rolli

Pros of becoming a Footwear Designer

  • Creativity is an integral part of the job. One gets to use his/her imagination and sense of style.
  • The profession of Footwear Designing has a scope of entrepreneurship.
  • There are various travel opportunities for fashion shows or meetings with clients.
  • There is a wide scope of opportunities for advancement as a chief designer or a creative director.

Cons of becoming a Footwear Designer

  • In this field, it may take years of patience to become successful.
  • The job requires long working hours.
  • Footwear designing does not have much awareness compared to apparel designing and  Footwear designers are less paid in India.

Paths for Being Footwear Designer