Nike design director inspires awards audience

Judith Millidge's Photo

An audience of footwear industry insiders and footwear design students gathered on 7 June to celebrate the winners of the Cordwainers Footwear Awards 2023.

The portfolios of the 15 finalists were ‘all thoughtfully conceived and beautifully presented’, said the Master, John Peal. The students of De Montfort University and London College of Fashion, University of the Arts, London displayed a breadth and depth of imagination, craftsmanship and specialist knowledge which impressed the judges and wowed guests.

The winner was JIhwi Ahn of De Montfort University for her stunning mobile-inspired ladies shoe. Winning a cash prize of  £3,000, as well as mentoring from an experienced industry professional, she said, ‘It’s really a privilege to experience this event and to be a winner! It really means a lot to me! I think it will really encourage me to push forward and work in this industry.’

For the full list of winners and examples of their designs, click here.

‘I feel very privileged to have been invited to judge the incredible work of so many talented students who have participated in the Cordwainers Footwear Awards 2023′,  said Joanne Jørgenssen, Design Director FTW Knit, Nike, who inspired the audience with her keynote address. Joanne is a creative industry professional who is as passionate about mentoring emerging talent as she is about footwear. Her route to footwear design is unusual: a knit designer with a successful fashion career, Joanne was recruited by Nike, who could see that her particular skills were perfect for their innovative sports footwear.

She encouraged students and emerging designers to perservere:

‘Believe in yourself, stay curious and have the confidence to shine through and push against the known. We are never going to create a better future if we keep on doing the same thing on repeat.’

It’s a message for all of us to embrace, whether we are starting out in the footwear business or are representatives of more venerable institutions.

Congratulations to all the finalists whose amazing work really made it an evening to remember.