Sophia Webster Discussed Training New Footwear Designers

Sophia Webster

Sophia Webster recognizes the challenges and triumphs young fashion designers encounter as they embark on their professional journeys. Her own experiences help her empathize with the highs and lows these aspiring creatives navigate when entering the dynamic world of design.

The renowned British footwear designer is scheduled to mark the 10th milestone of the Cordwainers Footwear Awards on June 13 in London's Saddlers' Hall. She will be the featured speaker, delivering the main address at the celebratory event.

Webster, a fashion school alum, is being honored with the Sue Saunders Award for Excellence. This prestigious accolade recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the footwear industry, be it through design, production, retail, or education.

design from a 2024 finalist

“I was utterly honored to be asked to receive the Sue Saunders Award and to give a keynote speech at this very special 10-year anniversary event. Arts education, access to the footwear industry and bringing up the next generation of talent is something very close to my heart, so I wholeheartedly accepted the opportunity to address the award nominees and their proud guests.”

- Webster told ShoesClub

This year, 16 outstanding finalists from prominent fashion schools will compete for the prestigious Cordwainers Footwear Award. Students from the respected London College of Fashion and De Montfort University have the opportunity to showcase their exceptional footwear designs, vying to claim the coveted trophy.

This year, 16 outstanding finalists from leading fashion schools will compete for the prestigious Cordwainers Footwear Award. Students from London College of Fashion and De Montfort University will have the opportunity to showcase their outstanding footwear designs and compete for the coveted trophy.

design from a 2024 finalist

In addition to the primary accolade, there are other classifications. One honors the imaginative footwear and activewear designs, while the other celebrates the remarkable progress made in creating eco-friendly shoe models.

As an esteemed keynote speaker at the Cordwainers Footwear Awards on Thursday, Webster shared with ShoesClub her insights into the industry’s evolution since the start of her design career. She reflected on the valuable lessons she’s gained during her career and offered guidance to aspiring young talent, shedding light on the transformative changes shaping the industry landscape.

“These kinds of awards are so important – besides recognizing achievements and hard work, and besides putting talent in front of the press and industry, it gives something for the next generation to strive for. Particularly in the case of the Cordwainers Awards – it is open across colleges and means that students can pitch themselves against talent they’re less familiar with.  This award is one of the country’s best footwear design prizes in terms of monetary value and can be a great incentive for anyone who has the talent and drive, but who is worried about financials, as I was – to keep pursuing their dream.”

“I have been blown away by the work of the finalists that I’ve seen, and I honestly don’t think I could pick any one designer out – each one shows unique flair. It’s clear they have all put a huge amount of effort and passion into their work.”

design from a 2024 finalist

“SO much has changed since I started, it’s a totally different landscape. A company must be incredibly agile to evolve with it. The biggest differences are the demands on the product, and the way brands connect to consumers. People want shoes they can wear for hours with more diverse end usages – the product has to work harder than ever. Secondly, direct communication with your audience and ideally a direct sales channel is so important in this day and age to present a message and collection that’s true to the creative/designer.”

“Feeling joy and gratitude in what I do is my top priority these days. My brand is over 10 years old now and I’ve been through many highs and lows, successes and challenges. Writing my book, ‘Oh My Gosh, I Love Your Shoes!’ gave me the chance to reflect on my journey and I gained a lot of perspective. Family, good health, happiness – these are the most important things. I want to keep spreading joy to the people that engage with my brand and have fun with the products that I create.”

“I always advise people starting out to stay in their own lane, by which I mean don’t worry too much about what everyone else is up to. There’s always a danger of comparing yourself to others and winding up either feeling impatient to reach milestones or offering messages and products that the market is already saturated with. Each journey into a career is unique and the most important thing is to love what you do and be your true authentic self, that way you can always look back and be proud.”