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Fashion at your feet

Footwear is no more a neglected part of your accessories but reflects and highlights your personality. It is more a fashion accessory than a necessity, says Cara Gupta Sarkar.

fashion and trends Updated: Aug 13, 2008 19:07 IST
Cara Gupta Sarkar

Footwear is no more a neglected part of your accessories but reflects and highlights your personality. Footwear is now recognised as a fashionable accessory rather than just a necessity. Now there are very many brands in the market. Many international brands have flooded the market, competing with the likes of Bata and Liberty. Trends have changed in the last decade.

Earlier, a career in footwear designing was not spoken very highly of. But today, it has become a very demanding field that has added another leaf in the book of the fashion world.

The Indian footwear industry is poised to grow at an annual rate of 20-30 per cent in the coming years. India ranks second, after China, in footwear production. The industry requires many skilled professionals to complement its growth.

India manufactures more men’s shoes as compared with the rest of the world that mainly focuses on women’s footwear.

This labour-intensive industry is concentrated in the small cottage industry sectors.

Leather shoes are produced in the large-scale units while sandals and chappals are produced in households and cottage industries. Chennai, Mumbai, Kanpur, Jalandhar, Agra and Delhi are the major footwear producing regions in India.

footwear industry. The footwear industry is broadly divided into three categories --design, manufacture and marketing. Footwear designing involves creating new designs and patterns keeping in mind the changing trends and tastes.

“A footwear designer is responsible for conceptualising the design and pattern of the product. In today’s market, there is a great demand for designer footwear, and thus an increasing demand for footwear designers in the industry,” says Rajat kohli, Senior Footwear Designer, Reebok.

“Footwear should be very comfortable and needs to fit properly. Therefore, precision of work is inevitable,” says Swechha Punj, a designer running an independent design firm in Delhi. A designer should have a creative bent of mind and be aware of the latest and changing trends of fashion. He/she should know how to strike a balance between utility and aesthetics. “A good design, which is not comfortable to wear, adds on to the negative points of a good designer,” adds Punj.

It is essential for a designer to be exposed to the latest trends across the globe. “To create new designs and patterns, it is not only important to keep track of the latest trends but also to see creations by wellknown designers from all over the world,” says Preethy Gopalan, Assistant Footwear Designer, Creative Line, a design firm in Chennai. Jimmy Choo, Kenneth Cole, Charles David are some of the noted global names in the industry .

Footwear designers use CAD and CAM PC-based software; 2D and 3D versions of CAD or CAM systems are also used.

Computer-aided design, introduced in the shoe industry as early as in the 1970s, was initially used primarily for pattern grading. It enabled manufacturers to perform complex grading relatively easily and quickly. However, over the years, the CAD system has evolved and comprises a much wider range of functions.

Admission to footwear design institutes is usually through a test. Students with a minimum qualification of 10+2 are eligible for various courses.

“There are no specific pre requirements needed to study footwear designing. However, a creative mind and some basic knowledge of drawing will make it easier and faster for a student to learn,” says S. N.

Ganguly, Director, Central Footwear Training Institute, Agra. Noida-based Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI), one of the leading design institutes, conducts an entrance test, a group discussion and personal interview.

FDDI recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with LTD Nagold (Germany) for a range of collaborative programmes. “The signing of the MoU is a step in the right direction to provide fashion and retail management education with international repute,” says Rajeev Lakhana, Managing Director, FDDI.

Well-known international institutes include Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), Los Angeles, Ars Sutoria, Milan and Cordwainers, London. FIDM offers a course that focuses both on designing and marketing.

Cordwainers stresses on the art and craft of shoe-making rather than marketing and merchandising. Ars Sutoria offers a full immersion programme in pattern drafting design.

A person with a degree or diploma in Footwear Designing can either open his or her design studio or take up a salaried job in an Indian or international companies like Bata, Liberty, Reebok, Adidas, Nike, Lotus Bawa and so on. “A fresher can earn something between Rs 10 to 15 thousand per month, depending on the company and his skills. It is always better to work with a company for a couple of years and only after getting the feel of the industry should one start one’s business,” suggests Kalyan Das Gupta, Design Department, Bata, Kolkata.

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