The competition, a joint project between Footwear News and Brown Shoe Co., officially begins early next year. But 50 students filled the FIT auditorium to hear about the requirements for participation, with the ultimate goal of winning an associate designer job at Brown Shoe.
Michael Atmore, editorial director of FN, told the crowd they had a career-enhancing opportunity in front of them.
“All of [last season’s] contestants are doing big things at top companies now,” Atmore said. “That’s what Shoe Star is about, fostering new talent and providing the opportunity to become a real star in the footwear industry.”
Jay Schmidt, SVP and GM of image brands at St. Louis-based Brown Shoe, added, “Being a part of this really underscores [Brown Shoe’s] commitment to fostering new talent. We’re really looking forward to seeing how the contest turns out.”
Applicants are required to submit a sample shoe, sketch, digital sketch and essay by Oct. 25. Twelve will be selected for an interview. From there, six finalists will be chosen, with their names announced on Feb. 1.
FIT senior accessory design student Shannon Ramiza said the competition’s appeal was the opportunity to learn from seasoned footwear experts and potentially earn a design job. Working for Brown, she said, would be an ideal entry into shoe design.
“You don’t have to feel locked into one vision,” the student said. “There are a lot of opportunities to grow with such a big company.”
The winner of FN Shoe star will work with one of Brown’s brands, which include Fergie, Naya, Vera Wang Lavender and Franco Sarto, among others.
For her FN Shoe Star application, Ramiza said she would design an over-the-top look to get the judges’ attention. “I’m thinking vinyl with some sort of feather interlay, or somehow encasing a Barbie doll in a boot — something crazy and almost unwearable because it’s a sample,” she said.
Student Rachel Fishbein added that she was still determining her application submission, but said her design style leans toward traditional feminine looks. “I love classic footwear, but I’d like to do something more modern and really cool,” she said.
Vasilios Christofilakos, chairman of FIT’s accessories design department, will return as the contestants’ adviser during the second season. He said that resilient and fresh designers are important to the competition and to the footwear industry.
“The [students in the contest] should have patience, perseverance and the ability to learn,” Christofilakos said. “Without new talent, the industry would be dead.”