What does a shoemaker do?
Shoemakers design and make footwear using hand and machine tools. They will stay up-to-date with fashion trends and new styles, anticipating what will be in fashion in coming seasons.
Some shoemakers run their own businesses, handmaking their own collections and custom or limited-edition shoes for clients. Shoemakers might also work for larger fashion houses, or focus on footwear design and collaborate with manufacturers to create a finished product.
- Creativity and design flair
- Enjoy working with your hands
- Attention to detail
- Use of computer-aided design programmes
- Communication skills to present design ideas, formally and informally
- Work along or as part of the team
How do I become a shoemaker?
You could do a degree or postgraduate qualification in footwear design, or a fashion design qualification that includes footwear.
You should look for courses that teach both the design and technical skills needed by the industry.
The British Fashion Council is a good place to start looking for courses.
- a foundation studies diploma in art and design
- 2 to 3 A levels for a degree
- a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
You could get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship in fashion and textiles, specialising in footwear.
You'll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
Working towards this role
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.
It's very important to put together a portfolio of work that you can take to interviews. This should include designs, technical drawings and mood boards to show your creative talents.
Colleges, universities and workshops across the UK offer short courses through which you can gain specialist skills in footwear design and making. These include:
Green Shoes, Devon
I Can Make Shoes is a female-run independent shoemaking school based in East London. They teach innovative shoemaking techniques that make shoemaking an accessible craft that can be done from home with ease.
The school was founded in 2010 by Amanda Overs out of a desire to make her own shoes from home. As a native Aussie, Amanda did her footwear training in Sydney, Australia. It was when she moved to London that she realised it was really difficult to make shoes without all the machinery she was taught to use. She set out to develop a shoemaking process that makes the craft accessible for people to do from home and she’s been spreading the love of shoemaking ever since.