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SCAD Students Can Now Minor in Sneaker Design

Georgia’s Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is giving students the tools to be sneaker design professionals with the launch of what it says is the first-ever sneaker design minor.

Design skills are in high demand in the footwear and apparel sectors, where talent is in short supply. One 2020 study from product development consultancy Alvanon revealed that 57 percent of fashion organizations feel their companies have difficulties filling positions due to the lack of a skilled workforce.

In that report, 38 percent of the 900 apparel professionals studied said that product design and development software operations were a major part of fashion’s future, yet only 22 percent got any training in these areas.

Based on student interest and alumni success in the industry, the minor aims to further enhance professional credentials and propel graduates forward in the footwear sector.

The SCAD sneaker design minor is available to students at SCAD’s Savannah and Atlanta locations and includes new courses tailor made to amplify innovative and sustainable design and manufacturing practices.

The minor includes five courses designed to develop students’ knowledge and design skills in sketching, rendering, concept development, digital prototyping and branding for luxury and high-performance sneakers.

For the first course, students at SCAD have three options: Sketching and Rendering for Accessory Design; Idea Visualization and Communication; and Introduction to Fashion Sketching. Students also have three alternatives for their second course: Rapid Prototyping: Analog to Digital Fabrication; Computer-aided Design for Accessory Design; and Computer-aided Fashion Design.

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All students will take the same three courses: Marketing and Distribution for Footwear; Making Sneakers: Design for Performance; and Digital Sneaker Design: VR to 3D Prototype.

These courses provide SCAD students with access to technology resources and are designed to ensure students complete the minor with a professional-quality portfolio that includes both physical and digital prototypes of original sneaker designs.

Programs like these, particularly given their breadth of coverage, could address many of the problems that currently exist in the designer training process. The Alvanon study indicated that 32 percent of respondents also pointed to the lack of, or insufficient, training as their chief grievance in their educational programs, while 19 percent said the content was not practical enough.

“From streetwear to sportswear, SCAD Bees define what is hot, haute and happening,” said SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace. “SCAD grads work for the biggest names in the shoe game. They launch their own lines, too, like Q4 Sports, where SCAD alum Quintin Williams teams up with NBA stars to design shoes that command the spotlight. So many SCAD Bees are already at the top of the sneaker game, and SCAD’s new sneaker design program empowers future sneakerheads everywhere to leap into their creative careers. It’s a slam dunk.”

Offered within SCAD’s School of Fashion, the sneaker design minor aims to help illustrate SCAD’s status within art and design education, innovation and creative business leadership and demonstrates the university’s mission to prepare students for professions at the forefront of evolving industries.

The new minor comes as more schools are looking to fill the skills void, like the Pensole Footwear Design Academy, which was established to support young footwear design students through education and career mentorship. The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) offers an online program called Sneaker Essentials in partnership with Complex Networks, which includes courses on sneaker history, design, manufacturing and production, distribution and retail, brand strategy and marketing and media.

SCAD alumni work for big-name footwear brands like Nike, Adidas, Yeezy, Reebok and Skechers, while some are creating their own companies.

The private, nonprofit, accredited university offers more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degree programs across locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and online via SCADnow.

Coinciding with the launch of the sneaker design minor, SCAD showcases student and alumni designs in an exhibition at SCAD Atlanta, on view March 28–Dec. 2 at SCAD Studio. Alumni including Zaneta Horne (M.A., design management, 2018; B.F.A., industrial design, 2015), Vincent Vu (M.Arch., 2008; B.F.A., architecture, 2007), Carson Whittaker (M.A., industrial design, 2018), Quintin Williams (B.F.A., industrial design, 2011), and current accessory design students Tim Buchanan and Jordan Earley are featured.

SCAD enrolls more than 15,700 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 120 countries. The school’s curriculum aims to engage professional-level technology and learning resources, and gives students opportunities for internships, professional certifications and real-world assignments via corporate partners through SCADpro, the university’s research lab and prototype generator.