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Suseong Woo wins Drapers Student Footwear Designer of the Year Award

Suseong Woo on stage at the Drapers Awards with two presenters
  • Written byJ. Igiri
  • Published date 19 October 2021
Suseong Woo on stage at the Drapers Awards with two presenters
Suseong Woo wins Student Footwear Designer of the Year
2021 | Photograph: Drapers Footwear Awards

London College of Fashion graduate Suseong Woo has won Student Footwear Designer of the Year at the 2021 Drapers Footwear Awards. An alumna of BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear: Product Design and Innovation, and the 2019 winner of LCF x FitFlop, Suseong has a passion for eco-friendly development, as well as thought-provoking and engaging shoe designs that make people look good and feel great.

photo of Suseong Woo sitting at a desk in a design studio

Congratulations on winning Student Footwear Designer of the Year at the Drapers Awards! Can you tell us what the prize represents and how you felt when you found out that you had won?

Thank you so much. I was incredibly speechless and very honoured! I was very overwhelmed to hear my name as the Student Footwear Designer of the Year at the Drapers Awards when a host announced the winner. It was the happiest moment of being a footwear design student for me throughout the past four years.

It was such an amazing opportunity to be the winner of this very prestigious award. It’s a great achievement, and confidence boost. To win Student Footwear Designer of the Year has been a completely surreal experience. This is a good stepping stone for me to showcase my talent and my visions. I look forward to making the most of the feedback that I receive and continuing on my path of learning from others.

What does this achievement mean to you and your career as a footwear designer?

The Drapers Awards has been one of my goals since my first year of university. This being so, it was very special and meaningful to me. I feel especially grateful to be recognized as a winner, because it recognizes something that is such a significant part of myself, and what I will continue to learn, as I grow within my professional career and personal development as a footwear designer.

I always believe that being respectful towards the environment and conscious of one’s impact is important, and it’s part of my design philosophy. I will continuously make efforts to create change in the footwear industry.

What was the inspiration behind your submission?

My drapers’ submission was two industry projects, ‘Hugo Boss and Fitflop’, which I worked on in 2nd year.

‘Void and Negative Space’ - designed for Hugo Boss

Collage of footwear designs
Hugo Boss Project Designs
, London College of Fashion, UAL | Photograph: Suseong Woo

I wanted to create a luxury men's sneaker collection with cozy and premium materials. Luxury sneakers have become an essential element of every man’s causal wardrobe and perfectly acceptable to wear from the gym to the office. They can comfortably wear sneakers for an elegant casual look or business casual style. All sneakers offer various styles, versatility and comfort.

‘Void and Negative Space’ is inspired by modern architecture’s unique blending of interior and exterior spaces, which see stark and uncompromising structures permeate otherwise empty and unfulfilled spaces. All sneaker uppers are made with premium nubuck leather as this is an ideal material. The leather gives consumers a very soft, comfortable and luxurious style. The collection has an urban colour scheme which suits the lifestyle of the modern man.

Marble’s Mountain – designed for Fitflop

Collage of footwear designs
LCF x FitFlop 2019 Winner
, London College of Fashion, UAL | Photograph: Suseong Woo

I designed an all-day comfort and fashionably fit women’s sneaker collection for all wearing occasions with the innovative combination of biomechanics by Fitflop. The everyday style sneakers empowered women to live an active and fulfilled life and make women look good and feel great after hours of wearing.

The collection was inspired by mountain landscapes. I looked into the natural environment, where the lines of geological elements advance with a raft of awe-inspiring colours and textural materials. I tried to explore links of contoured forms between straight and curved lines to create different silhouettes.

You mention that you’re passionate about eco-friendly development. What does this mean to you, and how does sustainability influence your work?

3D render of footwear design
2021 BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear, London College of Fashion, UAL | Photograph: Suseong Woo

I believe that eco-friendly development is not just trends and temporary movements in the fashion industry, but a cause we should all be part of to protect the future of the environment for the next generations.

Throughout my placement year I learned how footwear is a complex product and requires many different materials and manufacturing processes, all of which affect the product's overall environmental impact, such as producing many toxins, chemicals, and using fossil fuels.

I had a simple thought; there is no need to pollute the environment to wear beautiful shoes if we explore the possibilities of eco-friendly future designs, bringing new cutting-edge techniques of manufacturing into real life.

My final project was made with 3D printed sustainable footwear based on a high-tech 3D printing using reclaimed plastics from landfills and the ocean to reduce carbon footprint, aspiring to decrease the ecological impact of the footwear industry.

What impact do you hope your designs will have?

My mission is to create stylish, comfortable and sustainable shoes that suit every lifestyle, using recycled materials that are eco-friendly and responsibly sourced.

I’m constantly striving to achieve a better and more ecological footprint for both the world and the people around us, through an eco-friendly relationship between supply chains and nature. Moreover, I aim to preserve the integrity of the environment whilst enabling a healthy sustainable footwear business focused on creating a line of innovative and fashion-forward footwear of exceptional quality and at a fair price.

What attracted you to LCF and why did you study BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear: Product Design and Innovation?

There were many reasons why I selected the London College of Fashion to study BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear: Product Design and Innovation. Firstly, I believe that London College of Fashion is one of the most well-informed fashion educational institutions in the world. LCF would provide me with an advanced understanding of the global fashion industry, innovative thinking, creativity and professionalism with a methodical academic fashion foundation for my potential career options in the future.

Secondly, studying abroad was a big deal for me, especially in London in the UK. As an international student, I would like to experience unique and diverse cultures and make friends from almost every country on Earth.

What excites you the most about stepping into the fashion industry?

I should be excitedly looking forward to having a professional career after graduating from LCF, but I am half-filled with anticipation and half-filled with uneasiness. Working in the fashion industry is challenging and competitive. However, I have a passion for designing shoes that push the boundaries of what is possible, challenging myself to be a better person and a better footwear designer. Therefore, I am hoping to find an ideal job best suited for me, and I am looking towards being part of the design team and hoping to be devoted to my role.

There are many opportunities that allow me to meet so many people in fashion, all with different backgrounds, experiences, and ideals. Hopefully, I will build and foster strong working relationships that are both professional and personal.

Think five years into the future – what would you love to be doing?

My future career aspirations start with my desire to enter the footwear industry and learn more about design and product development. I want to have the opportunity to challenge myself and improve step-by-step and build on the technical skills and knowledge that I have gained over the last four years. In particular, I would like to deepen my understanding of 3D printing and look further into sustainable materials and biomorphic modelling. In the process, I aim to expand and strengthen my network in order to share my ideas with as many people as possible.

One day I look forward to bringing others on board with my vision of an environmentally-friendly footwear industry which creates sustainable, comfortable, innovative and fashionable shoes.

Ultimately, I hope to have my own business and brand promoting this vision with these core values at the heart of everything that I do. My overall career aspiration is to create beautiful, practical, ethical products which contribute to the world around me in a healthy and positive way.

One piece of advice you’d give to new BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear: Product Design and Innovation students?

I think if you really feel that passion for footwear, you’re ready to be a good footwear designer. I believe that you are in an excellent place to learn about footwear and all its aspects at LCF. Always be open minded to learn more, never be afraid to try new things, and when all else fails follow you heart! Just do it!