Designers star at Cordwainers’ Footwear Student of the Year competition


The Cordwainers’ Footwear Student of the Year competition was held at the Clothworkers’ Hall earlier this month, when 200 guests including footwear students, industry influencers and Cordwainers’ members came together to celebrate the best upcoming shoe designers in the UK.

The prestigious evening included an inspirational keynote speech from previous award winner Helen Kirkum, who won the inaugural Cordwainers’ National Footwear Student of the Year Award in 2014. 

The Cordwainers launched the National Footwear Student of the Year Awards to support the future of the shoe industry and to celebrate and encourage young footwear talent.

Previous winners are making their mark in the industry and have used their prize money to fund further education in footwear design or start their own footwear design business.

Penny Graham, Clerk at the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers said: “We are delighted to host this national award for the very best footwear design students. We believe that recognising and supporting the next generation of footwear talent is an important part of helping Britain to maintain its position as the world leader in the design and manufacture of footwear.”

Applications were invited from the footwear students at the three universities that specialize in footwear design, De Montfort University, University of Northampton and London College of Fashion.

The students submit portfolios of their designs for a pair of shoes and after an initial selection by the universities, the work of 15 finalists is presented to the judging panel of Atalanta Weller, Joachim Sedelmeier (Head of Design, Shoes, at Paul Smith), along with guest judge and previous winner Helen Kirkum and chaired by Katie Greenyer, Creative Director, Pentland Brands.

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The best of the best were recognised

2019 winners were Meta Cunder (London College of Fashion), Dimitri Gabellier (De Montfort University), and Emily Hill (London College of Fashion)

Monica Bateman of the University of Northampton and Sara McMullan, also London College of Fashion, received Commendations. 

Liveryman Katie Greenyer, chair of the judging panel, said: “I can really say this has been the highest of standards and the toughest year to judge by far, taking us an additional two hours to debate the work, challenge each other, and to delve deep into the students’ rationales to justify our decision.”

Winner Meta Cunder was ecstatic about her win: “It feels incredible to win this award! It means the absolute world to me, as it will allow me to kick start my career and help me set up my own brand.” 

Master of the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers, Jonathan Hooper expressed his thanks to everyone who supported the awards: “The Cordwainers National Footwear Student of the Year Awards is a prestigious event, and we are grateful to the support from the footwear industry and the universities that make these awards possible.

“The Cordwainers have been nurturing and encouraging emerging talent in the footwear trade for nearly 750 years. Our position as the largest private provider of scholarships and bursaries in footwear education is part of our ongoing commitment to raise the profile of the footwear industry in the UK.

“This evening is hugely important, as it provides the students with the opportunity to network with the most influential people from across the sector and, in turn, enables industry professionals to meet the footwear stars of the future.”