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Cordwainers hands out 2018 student footwear awards

Students from three leading UK universities were recognised for their creativity and talent at the 2018 Cordwainers National Footwear Student Awards on June 7.

The event took place at the Clothworkers’ Hall in London.

The awards ceremony was opened by the Master of the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers, Patrick Peal, who welcomed the guests, who included representatives from UK footwear brands and universities, as well as selected members of the press. 

In his address, Mr Peal described the UK as the “undoubted world leader” of footwear education at university level. He said the Cordwainers is the biggest provider of grants and bursaries to UK footwear students, offering funding of £100,000 per year.

He also read an excerpt of a letter from last year’s winner, Rachel Hamill of De Montfort University, in which she explained that the recognition helped her stand out as a graduate, gave her confidence in her chosen career path, and fuelled her determination to succeed. In the year since her win she has interned at the Sophie Webster brand, delaying the launch of her own label.

The keynote speech at this year’s awards was delivered by Camilla Elphick, a Cordwainers graduate who worked for designers like Nicholas Kirkwood and Sophia Webster before launching her own brand. She said it was “an honour” to also be invited to be on the awards jury and praised the “amazing talent” on show.

She also offered the students in attendance some insight into her career path, which has taken her to New York, Milan and now London. Ms Elphick’s key piece of advice for aspiring shoe designers was: “Be proactive, rather than reactive.”

As well as Ms Elphick, the judging panel also included Katie Greenyer, creative director of Pentland Brands, and shoe designers Guy West and Atalanta Weller.

The evening concluded with the naming of the winners of the awards, selected from a shortlist of 15 students, five each from the University of Northampton, De Montfort University and the London College of Fashion (LCF), part of the University of the Arts London.

The judging panel handed out three special commendations. They went to Joseph Ling (De Montfort), for his collection inspired by fish and Japanese culture; Orla O’Hagan (De Montfort), for her collection which married Chinese sugar art with sustainable design; and Xiaoyue Wei (LCF), for a collection based on wire drawing and 3D illustrations. 

Third place in the overall awards went to Edina McClelland (De Montfort), whose interesting collection took inspiration from the decline of seaside towns in the British Isles, such as Blackpool. Yunfei Ma (LCF) claimed second place with a collection inspired by the Japanese art of Kitsungi.

The 2018 National Footwear Student of the Year was Barbara Fidler from the London College of Fashion. Her collection was described by Atalanta Weller, one of the judges, as “wonderfully progressive”. It was inspired by vintage military, expedition and workwear clothing.

World Leather would like to congratulate all the students who took part in the 2018 competition, especially overall winner Barbara Fidler.

Image shows overall winner Barbara Fidler Icentre), alongside Patrick Peal and Camilla Elphick.

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