Shoe me some money: Know how to make a successful career in shoemaking
The essence of shoemaking, for the major part of its existence, has been to handcraft one pair at a time. Nowadays, traditional shoemaking has largely been replaced by industrially mass-produced footwear without much emphasis on quality or craftsmanship.
In India, the footwear industry has been a thriving industry and growing at a rapid pace. We are the second largest producer of shoes in the world. With the population of our country, we lag behind in the per capita shoes consumption but still are the third largest shoe consumer in the world, in volume.
With many favourable conditions, the industry is projected to grow leaps and bounds in the coming years.
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Shoemaking, as a career, has always been a lucrative option but the rules have changed. With industrialisation, many have adapted to latest technology and processes, but a substantial many have also tried hard to hold onto their traditional values of expert craftsmanship and fine handwork. The outcome has been favourable for both parties and today a market exists for both.
There was a time when people would look down upon these craftsmen, but with the openings up of our economy, the industry has flourished. Today there is a big demand for shoemakers who understand the importance of quality and have the expertise to handcraft premium quality footwear.
Shoemaking is a complex art and requires an in-depth understanding of various techniques and processes. Pattern cutting, leather selection, closing, lasting are some of the many techniques that shoemakers master. The whole process comes together with various craftsmen having an expertise in their own domain.
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India has many institutes that offer courses in shoemaking. Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI), Central Footwear Training Institute (CFTI) and National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) are the most sought after colleges.
These colleges have rigorous courses that offer short-term, bachelors and master courses in shoemaking and designing.
Industry supports these colleges well by offering trainings, internships and placements to students. A student right out of college can expect to start atRs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 a month. These salaries vary greatly based on profiles and across industries.
Outside our borders, Ars Sutoria, Milan, London College of Fashion and the Istituto Europeo di Design in Rome are the leading international institutes. Students that come out of these colleges are highly sought after in India and are given salaries that reflect their international exposure.
Shoemaking is a traditional handicraft that has found the right balance between handwork and automation. Shoemakers who understand this are extracting the real value from the market. India will see a wave of new shoemakers who have expertise to leverage the intricacies of expert craftsmanship and efficiency of automation. Big opportunities lie ahead for shoemakers and with time the hope is to see these expert craftsman fulfil their true potential.