Budding shoe designers at the University of Northampton will now have a greater opportunity to produce their footwear creations in a brand-new high quality workshop. The workshop was officially opened by the Clerk, John Miller on 19 March.
The new facility will now provide footwear students with additional space for their work and complements the existing studios and range of workshops already at Avenue Campus. Footwear students also have the opportunity to use the facilities in the university’s Institute for Creative Leather Technologies.
Many high profile names in the footwear industry also attended, such as John Saunders, Chief Executive of the British Footwear Association, Mark Jeffery and Guy West from designer label Jeffery West, and Helen Kirkum, 2014 winner of the Cordwainer Footwear Student of the Year Award.
The opening of the new facility coincides with the launch of the standalone BA (Hons) Footwear and Accessories programme, which will provide students with the creative skills and technical knowledge for footwear design.
Northamptonshire’s shoe and boot making heritage dates back almost 900 years and over 25 manufacturers are still operating within the county, such as Dr Martens, Church & Co, and Cheaneys. The university has strong connections with the industry and often hosts regular guest speakers, as well as supporting the students with internships and work placements.
In his speech John Miller said, “It’s a very exciting time for the University of Northampton. Our company has been associated with the university ever since its footwear course commenced and we have been offering scholarships and bursaries since then. We’ve always felt there’s great opportunity for Northampton as the centre of the shoe industry and the university has the ability to build on the pedigree of the footwear industry that’s based here – Northampton is where it all happens and that’s a great advantage for its students.”
Dr Julie King, Subject Leader for Fashion and Textiles at the University of Northampton, commented: “We are all delighted to have such an incredible resource now available to our footwear and accessories students. It will help them become more technically proficient than ever before and builds on the amazing footwear heritage of Northampton.”