18-20 February 2018, NEC Birmingham

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The next generation


As home to the UK’s only dedicated footwear design course, De Montfort University is a springboard for young talent seeking to join all aspects of the footwear trade. Moda Footwear is proud to host a long-running partnership with the Leicester University, and has once again extended a competition for undergraduates to be recognised as one to watch in the footwear trade. 

Those in the final year of the Footwear Design course were invited to create a shoe for Moda Footwear’s History in the Making project. Challenged with incorporating an aspect of heritage into a contemporary footwear design, the students surpassed themselves with their eclectic interpretations of the brief. 

The Moda team visited the students on-site at DMU to whittle down the contestants to six finalists, all of whom will have their final creations displayed within Moda Footwear at the show this weekend. The final winner will be announced on the catwalk at 6pm on Sunday evening, and exhibitors are welcome to attend to discover the new footwear design talent of tomorrow. 

Ahead of the presentation, meet the six finalists and discover the inspiration behind their designs. 

Natalie Bowmar-Scothern
Natalie turned to beer festival Oktoberfest as the inspiration for her cleverly-named Highbräu design. “There are everlasting stories behind the traditional beer kegs and the sweet messages of the Lebkuchen hearts,” she says. From Moda’s point of view, every element of the project worked from its concept to the branding. The student has clearly identified a trend for breweries and real ale culture, and has incorporated this into a subtle and sleek design. The discrete yet quirky bottle top fastening is appealing and could easily grow into a brand hallmark. The Highbräu name is very clever and relevant for this collection, and the Bowmar-Scothern branding was professional and would not look out of place on the high street as it is.

Joanna Eden
Upon choosing beekeeping as her main theme for the project, Joanna Eden explained; “As creatures, bees are so beautiful yet so misunderstood. The craftsmanship and dedicated within the hive accentuates intricate textures, structures and tones, and highlights the importance of their existence.” From Moda’s perspective, we commended the student on her choice to focus on a very specific element of heritage; beekeeping is immediately intriguing because it is an unusual choice. It is also very relevant, given that several species of bees have recently been identified as endangered species and that affection for the insect is certainly set to grow over the next decade. The amber colour palette within the student’s portfolio had a very strong appeal, particularly given the popularity of rose gold and copper in recent seasons. Amber hues of gold could certainly be the next big thing, and it would have been nice to have seen more elements of this palette incorporated into the final design.  

Rachel Hamill
Rachel impressed with her beautifully-presented collection inspired by her own grandmother’s love of embroidery. The use of embroidery rings to present her project was a charming idea, and the personal aspect to the heritage theme certainly did add an extra element to the overall design. Rachel also ensured that she brought the design bang up to date with her pastel and metallic colour choices which ensured that the concept didn’t ever venture into the realms of being twee. This design would merchandise very well within both a footwear store and a womenswear store, and the concept could be rolled out to other designs season after season. Crafts are very popular right now, and this brand would certainly appeal in the marketplace. 

Daniel Patrick Maguire
Daniel’s finished project was a design that couldgo onto the shelves in its current format. Every element of its production was immaculate, and it was immediately-apparent that the shoe had been meticulously well-made. Daniel was inspired by new skyscrapers climbing towards their peak 200 feet above New York City. He researched the craft of building from Mohawk ironworkers to the present day to create a work boot which alludes to the utilitarian trend. The student had clearly identified the potential of the workboot and its ongoing popularity in the marketplace, but had updated it with the Native American influence which adds appeal. The addition of the knife was a great touch, although it may have to be tweaked for legal reasons. The box based on the lunchboxes of that culture was also a nice touch, and adds to the story and appeal of the overall brand. 

Tabasam Ullah
The dark, mysterious mythology of Voodoo was the theme of choice for Tabasam, but he was keen to challenge the misconceptions of the practice as portrayed by Hollywood and the wider media. Tabasam’s overall presentation had an immediate impact that is different to anything else currently available, and the student had avoided boxing himself into the niche “goth / alternative” sector by being quite subtle in his incorporation of the voodoo influence. The logo of this brand was particularly strong and would work as it is in the current marketplace. The story behind the brand would also appeal to retailers, particularly the displacement of myths surrounding the practice of voodoo and its intriguing and mysterious nature in general.

Rebecca Witherspoon
Rebecca turned to the Great Gatsby for a theme that creates a theatrical backdrop that plays into a glamorous and sophisticated style; a time of ornate splendour and exquisite detail. For the Moda team, this was a good example of an understated design that works. At first glance, the shoe was a well-made piece that was quite classic in its design. On closer inspection however, the architecture of the design was really quite directional and would not look out of place within the collection of a popular brands well-known for pushing the boundaries of structure. There was a clear process behind the student’s final decision to opt for this particular heel, and the sleek feminine design widens its appeal beyond the “quirky” niche. The decision to opt for a plain black and gold colourway was paradoxically brave; it is very classic, but it works. 



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