National Student Footwear Awards – With The Cordwainers

Last week I attended the most amazing event where I got to spend time seeing some of the people who are stars of the footwear world gathering to celebrate the future stars of the industry at the Cordwainers National Student Footwear Awards.

And of course there were the most amazing former students and labels showing outside the hall.

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But the Cordwainers, who they?

Well you may not know the Worshipful Guild Of Cordwainers but you will for sure know some of the names involved, Jimmy Choo, Sophia Webster and Rupert Sanderson to name just three. The Cordwainers were founded in 1272 as the body for shoemakers and leather workers, and ran the trade in the city. In the modern world more than 700 years later they have changed and are now mainly a charitable body who still campaign to promote the footwear industry as well as supporting young people in their paths via bursaries, support, advice and many other ways. They also support non-industry charities including those for the blind, the London Free Hospital and many others, their good deeds and support run right through our society.

But to come back on topic, without the Cordwainers our footwear industry which works with De Montford, Northampton and LCF Universities there might not be a British shoe industry. Their passion and desire to not only keep their traditions alive but to keep building the industry were in evidence in the speeches by John Rubenstein, Master of the Cordwainers and John Saunders Chief Exec of The British Footwear Association who made heartwarming and funny statements about what is happening and the way we should be going then an amazing empowering speech from Sophia Webster who has come through their channels to worldwide success.

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They were so proud of the talented stars of the next generation, and they have the feel of that fave Aunt or Uncle at Christmas you can’t help but like, because basically they are such fun to be around, and while they are so passionate about what they do they can still discuss Middlesex middle order batting problems, cheeky pranks they play and many anecdotes about the lives they have led, I know this to be true as I had those conversations.

But back to the topic at hand, you want to know the names to get in early on, the people that are going to be the shelf fillers of tomorrow.

Winner – Caroline Klemp

2nd – Chanel Lavender   –  3rd – Claire O’Conner


Doey Kim & Da Young Im

I know having flicked through their portfolio’s there is no way I’d have been any use as a judge, every single student nominated had a breath taking fresh approach that had not only delivered creativity and the wow factor, but each showed amazing research skills and a razor sharp understanding of how to turn that into not only the desirable but the commercially viable. I couldn’t have singled one out as I loved them all

While they had their photos done and networked with all the industry people present to connect and try to open new avenues as they step out of University and into the industry full time I was left thinking that the future is not only safe, but it’s going to be so awesome that I’m going to need a site just for the brilliant footwear we are due.

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About Ross Pollard

Since starting writing on my 31st birthday in 2011 I have held a number of positions at magazines and websites as well as regularly producing articles for numerous publications alongside contributing to TV & radio shows as a freelance fashion journalist including Hoxton Radio & Fashion One TV. Alongside writing, I have worked in other industries helping to design & grow digital platforms, develop businesses and support operations practices. This experience has proved invaluable in building an understanding of how businesses work, and the landscape in which retail, B2B commerce and other commercial operations develop. Knowledge of commercial interests has helped shape my fashion industry insights beyond critiquing of garments

One comment

  1. Interesting that there is someone called Chanel in the shortlist. Nominative determinism in action?

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