Sophia Webster Inspires A New Generation Of Footwear Students

Sally Bell's Photo

Guests, students, and footwear professionals were treated to an inspiring speech by keynote speaker and internationally renowned shoe designer Sophia Webster at this year’s Cordwainers Footwear Awards on 13 June.

Sophia, whose distinctive butterfly shoes have attracted an ‘A’ list clientele from Michelle Obama to Taylor Swift, was also the recipient of the 2024 Sue Saunders Award for Excellence.

Speaking to a packed audience at Saddlers’ Hall Sophia said the importance of the Cordwainers Footwear Awards could not be underestimated because ‘they not only recognise talent, but also the commitment and hard graft that it takes to be outstanding.’ And she urged the next generation of footwear designers to be brave and to ‘spread their wings’:

‘My butterfly shoes often have me thinking of what I call the caterpillar mindset. The effort that it takes to become a butterfly and the trust in the process. It takes a great deal of bravery and effort to break out of a cocoon, Butterflies have to beat their wings hard against the insides over and over until finally it cracks. But it is that same effort and repetition that ultimately strengthens their wings enough to fly. Which is a bit like all of you really coming out of your ‘uni’ cocoon. Life is about to change, it’s exciting and scary but remember the caterpillar mindset – to spread our wings we all need belief, persistence, and time.’

2024’s winner was George Nikiforakis of LCF with his entry – ‘The Collective: These Are Our Stories’. He wins a cash prize of £3000 and a mentoring session with experienced industry professionals. He said: ‘Winning first prize for such a prestigious award is honestly everything to me. It has given me the confidence to really forge forward in an industry that I truly love.’

The Chair of the Judging Panel, Katie Greenyer of Pentland, said being involved with the awards was a ‘rewarding creative light that gives the judges hope that the future of footwear is in the hands of extraordinary talent.’

Katie’s podcast interview with Sophia Webster is now available to listen as part of the Cordwainers’ series ‘In Their Shoes’

Many congratulations to all the finalists for a stellar year!