Cordwainers Footwear Awards winners – what happened next?

Judith Millidge's Photo

On the cusp of the 2022 Cordwainers Footwear Awards, we have been thinking about how our awards change lives.

The winners profit not only from a generous financial award, but along with all the shortlisted finalists, valuable mentoring, networking and community support from professionals in the shoe and fashion industry.

So, what has happened to our previous winners? From setting up their own brands to securing roles with sought-after fashion houses including Alexander McQueen, Nicholas Kirkwood, Givenchy, and Bethany Williams. Here are just a few examples of what Cordwainer Footwear Awards finalist alumni are now up to. I cannot wait to see what this year’s cohort go on to do?

Clara Nordenhok, 2020 Winner – Graduate Trainee, Alexander McQueen “I’ve recently started working for Alexander McQueen as a graduate trainee. … I was beyond happy to not only get a job in these difficult times, but to get a position within my dream company. I am absolutely loving it so far and despite the pandemic, I’ve been very fortunate this year in graduating with first class honours, winning the Cordwainers National Footwear of the Student Awards – and now this! I am very excited for this new year and everything that will come with it. 2021 – bring it on!”

Meta Cunder 2019 Winner – Design Assistant, Nicholas Kirkwood “Winning the award itself has been the highlight of my years in education and an incredible confirmation of my efforts and design vision. Having my graduation project seen and recognised by industry professionals, including one of my future managers at Nicholas Kirkwood, has helped me shine in my new role as design assistant. Becoming the Cordwainers’ National Footwear Student of the Year gave me great confidence and helped stave off the all too common imposter syndrome, that so many of us experience.”

Sabrina Minjoo, 2019 Finalist – Founder, Avves Golf Sabrina founded Avves Golf – a luxury golf shoe brand. She says that despite the pandemic, her brand is still doing well, due to many people playing golf during this time. “Recognition from the Worshipful Company of Cordwainer’s gave me the courage to set up my own brand, so thank you so much for everything.”

Younghwan Kim, 2019 Finalist – recently won the Woolmark Performance Challenge 2020 Concerned about the prevalence of plastic in our lives and environmental catastrophes such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Younghwan asked himself, “How can we make a waterproof material while keeping Merino wool’s softness and light weight, without plastic?” He achieves his goal with a novel 100% natural and renewable material, bringing together Merino wool and Ottchil to create the perfect knitted wool footwear.

Helen Kirkum – 2014, Inaugural Winner – Founder Helen Kirkum Studio Limited. Helen founded Helen Kirkum Studio Limited and is widely considered a pioneer of the hacked and deconstructed aesthetic within the sneaker industry, and in the vanguard of the sustainable footwear movement. “It was amazing to be the first-ever winner of the Cordwainers National Footwear Student of the Year Award. The prize money paid for the first year of my MA at RCA, which really helped me to push my career and keep learning. I also made really valuable connections through Cordwainer events”.