Jane Stammers Associate director, Whitepeak
Footwear, and particularly performance footwear, is a specialist area, and designers have usually completed a footwear design-related course, which will give a strong insight into all areas of the lifecycle of the product, from concept through to manufacture. A degree with a work placement is the best route.
As footwear and accessories is a growing area across the fashion industry, many clothing retailers are developing their own collections, so there are lots of opportunities to gain experience. But a recognised footwear brand is the best option.
With a smaller, more niche footwear brand, the creative director role is more similar to a design manager in a larger retail business.
Strong computer skills, good technical drawing skills and an understanding of the manufacturing process are an advantage. Employers will look for strong creative flair, with sound commercial understanding and excellent technical drawing skills, and the ability to develop commercial collections.
As footwear is a specialist area, progression can be quicker and you can gain more responsibility quickly.
Salary expectations for a head of design/creative director can vary from £60,000 to £80,000.