designing sneakers through making


Often when people think of the words "design" and "sneakers" they seem to imagine beautiful 3D renderings made in the latest software. We would almost forget that sneakers are a 3D product that will eventually have to be made. So why not start with making in the first place? Many of the most iconic sneakers were not created by sketching, but by sampling. Some ideas can not even be achieved by drawing; you have to create them with your hands. Mike Friton - who teaches this course - knows this all too well. As one of the founding members of Nike's Innovation Kitchen he was involved in famous Nike styles, like the Presto and the Woven. In the video at the bottom of this page he shows how craft is a vital part of his creation process.


This is an ideal course for a broad spectrum of people. Designers working for the industry will add new skills to their design vocabulary that will allow them to create designs that they would never have been able to make through drawing. This program will also help them make physical prototypes really quickly, without having to wait for the factory sample room.

Bespoke sneaker makers will learn innovative techniques to create sneakers by hand or with very simple machinery. Even orthopedic shoemakers will learn very different ways to create uppers for customers that want to wear sneakers.


Course Program:


In the course of five days you will study the specific design needs of performance footwear and you will make several uppers using different techniques:


Athletic footwear – Presentation of specific needs in athletic footwear. Performance based styling.

Athletic Last – Definition of an athletic last.

Foot based verses last based drafting and pattern making

2 seam booty construction – Simple and fast method of constructing and prototype, with or without a last.

Hand woven construction – Stylish and ancient footwear making technique.


Course Details:


Level: this is an intermediate course meant for people who already have some footwear experience and understand the basics of how shoes are made. If you have no footwear experience at all we recommend that you follow our Sneakerology course first.

Location: Shoe Style Lab, Castello di Vigevano, Piazza Ducale in Vigevano, Italy (about one hour from Milan, but we recommend that students stay in Vigevano)

Duration: 5 days

Maximum number of participants: 10

Teacher: Mike Friton


Dates in 2018:

April 9-13


Course times: 10:00 - 17:30 each day


Price: 5 class days at an intermediate level price, so this amounts to €1000 (excluding VAT, if applicable). This amount is to be paid in advance.


Included in the course price: materials that are used in class. We will have a broad range of shoe upper materials for you to work with, from different fabrics, to veg tan leather and sustainable vegan leather alternatives. If there is a specific material that you want to work with, then please bring it.

Not included in the course price: flight tickets, hotel accomodation, transportation to and from the Shoe Style Lab and lunch. Upon registration you will receive a document with recommendations for travel, accommodation, supermarkets and restaurants.


How to apply: please send an email with your CV (LinkedIn profile) and short motivation to join this course to [email protected]


Combinations with other courses:

This course is an ideal combination with the previous week, which evolves around innovative ways of making sneaker lasts. If you follow both classes you will get a 5% discount, so in that case you will only pay €1900 for both weeks.