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Blog: Footwear Friends Designer Awards 2007

Congratulations to Alex Bartholomew and Heather Blake, who walked home with the winner and runner-up prizes at the first Footwear Friends Designer Awards 2007 on Wednesday, held at the Geffrye Museum in London’s East End.

Judges of the new award were Daniel Rubin of Browning Enterprises, designer Adele Clarke and Tim Cooper of footwear distributor OPS, and the trio made up a Dragons Den-like panel, interviewing entrants who were gunning for a £4,000 prize.

The judges said they were impressed by the calibre of young talent they saw.

The winner was Bartholomew, who Rubin said knew her market inside out. Her golf shoe designs were considerate and detailed and Bartholomew has pledged to spend her winning cash on exhibiting her first collection at a Golf Fair in the USA, a business-savvy move that impressed the judges.

Runner-up Blake produced a high-end collection of beautifully designed shoes. The panel all agreed that with their perfect lines and wonderful construction, her designs could rival Prada and Dolce & Gabanna.

Past recipients of Footwear Friends' support pitched up at the event to share their career stories, letting members know that their donations are by no means going to waste or unappreciated.

Rachel Alsbury told of her varied career, from Dr Martens to Puma with a shoe consultancy in between, while Lucy Bennett told of her journey from helping to launch kidswear specialist and Drapers Award winner One Small Step, One Giant Leap to her current position at Disney, pioneering their kids' footwear collections.

The occasion was a jolly one, but sober tales of those who had fallen on hard times and been supported by money from Footwear Friends reminded the crowds why they were there.

This 171-year-old charity is dedicated to those who have worked or still do work in the footwear industry, and by launching awards such as this it is making a bid to try and remain relevant to today's footwear community, and for that they should be commended.

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