Footwear designers help shape the paths we tread by creating shoes that we feel and look great wearing. They are creators, innovators, and makers who design with both form and functionality in mind. They need to be forward-thinking and test the boundaries of design.
Footwear designers usually develop several samples using different leather or textile swatches so that the final product is a long-lasting piece that can endure frequent wear. They work with special forms called ‘lasts’ and use them to build constructions and shapes that are suited to a range of foot types. Footwear designers work with teams of other designers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and marketing professionals.
A lot of overseas travel is generally expected of designers in the footwear industry in order to work directly with factories, usually in mainland China. Most footwear designers have a bachelor’s degree in fashion or industrial design and are based in New York and Los Angeles. As the industry is small, jobs for this role are extremely competitive. Opportunities are expected to grow 1% by 2028.