Online bag technical courses guide: from sketch to mock-up

Have you ever wondered if your passion for bags could be translated into a professional path? Being able to create accessories from scratch is definitely an ambitious goal. To fully understand how luxury items are made, a well-rounded technical course is the best place to start from with. Tools for the online patternamaking Approaching the […]

Have you ever wondered if your passion for bags could be translated into a professional path? Being able to create accessories from scratch is definitely an ambitious goal. To fully understand how luxury items are made, a well-rounded technical course is the best place to start from with.

From manual techniques to advanced CAD software, you’ll master the art of pattern making.

Tools for the online patternamaking

Approaching the professional side of bag making requires adequate resources. As the industry develops new technologies, pattern makers and technicians need to adapt. The most efficient tool to start drafting patterns for bags is a CAD software that allows you to draw shapes in a 2D space, directly from your laptop. From an educational point of view, digital patternmaking can be the most helpful as it requires very little space, almost no manual skills, and it can be easily followed through pre-recorded video tutorials and slideshows.

From junior to senior

A complete course is the best choiche to enhance your previous knowledge and elevate your skills. All masterful technicians have started from simple projects to gather confidence in their approach. No matter where you come from – professionally speaking – you will find your strenghts all along the training. A consistent amount of examples and exercises will be the fuel of your growth.

Your designs in real life

Prototyping can be a tricky task, but it’s crucial when it comes to understanding the finished product. Thanks to online pattern making classes, you are able to print your own patterns, cut the material and put together mock-ups of bags, in order to visualize properly the proportions and all the different techniques.

In the learning path, that is the key to strengthen your knowledge of the several steps of creating the full accessory. Making a mock-up doesn’t mean you have to produce the finished item on your own – that can happen as well, of course, just with a few more resources – but it’s an important step to improve your perception of the product.

Visualizing techniques through a digital mindset

The prototyping step can take place in several ways. Considering a CAD software as the fundamental resource to be used, it’s extremely helpful to employ that also to create 3D volumes that can possibly replace a physical mock-up. This can be a game changer expecially if you’re not that keen on manual tasks and crafting.

Heard from the masters

If you have come this far, you probably are not interested in DIY and amateurs’ tutorials. The best and most appropriate guidance for bag making has to come from the experience of professional figures. They need to be trust worthy: able to achieve high-end results and also to provide well-built instructions through a structured technical course.

The journey from sketch to mock-up in bag pattern making is not just about acquiring skills; it’s about unlocking your creativity and potential in the world of fashion accessories. If you’re ready to turn your passion for bags into a professional pursuit, investing in an online technical course is the perfect starting point. Take the leap today and explore the endless possibilities that await you. Don’t hesitate to ask for more information about our Online Bag Pattern Making program on our website.

From passion to profession: passion is the driver of success in the design world

Matteo Pasca, Arsutoria School Director since 2003 tells us valuable suggestions on how to transform your passion for bags and shoes in a success career in 2024. The economist Enrico Cietta, author of HCP (Hybrid Creative Products) theory states that within fashion industry products, creativity is inseparable from the ability to make them. A creativity […]

Matteo Pasca, Arsutoria School Director since 2003 tells us valuable suggestions on how to transform your passion for bags and shoes in a success career in 2024.

The economist Enrico Cietta, author of HCP (Hybrid Creative Products) theory states that within fashion industry products, creativity is inseparable from the ability to make them. A creativity that does not go in a harmonious way with a competent dexterity ends up being an abstract exercise just for its own sake.

Two examples come to mind: the first one is the US documentary “Valentino: The Last Emperor” from 2008. In a sequence, the extraordinary Italian designer tells to have woken up one day with the image of a dress in his mind. Then he goes to the atelier where a group of tailors dedicated to the Maison Haute Couture listens to his ideas and gets to work. Textiles and materials are selected, expert hands make the first sample and the model wears it. Valentino discusses technical solutions with Antonella De Angelis, his historical collaborator and in charge of tailoring team. An amazing example of the urgency of the creative idea in the designer mind to become object and to be worn.

The second example is the exhibition “Salvatore Ferragamo 1898-1960” hosted until November 4th, 2024, at the Ferragamo Museum in Florence, a magical place masterfully coordinated by the great director Stefania Ricci. The exhibition launched on October 27th 2023, celebrates the opening of the first Ferragamo store in Hollywood in 1923. A brief text taken directly from the museum website: “ the current project […] benefits from new junctions that on one side bring to light the contribution of Ferragamo to the reinassance of handcraft and to definition of Made in Italy after WWII, on the other side they highlight how Italian design, expressed thanks to Ferragamo footwear too, is based on the winning bond between decorative and handcraft tradition, functionality and technological innovation.

At last, in this deep context of connection between creativity and craftmanship, a tangible example of how these 2 components interconnects with passion and dedication is offered by one of the most influential designer of today’s panorama, Gherardo Felloni, who has recently been awarded in New York with “designer of the year 2023award. In his biography Gherardo says “I was born in Tuscany, near Arezzo, and grew up in the countryside. My father and my uncle had a shoe factory, LAMOS, founded in 1958, and I used to go to the factory where I stayed with the craftsmen, I enjoyed cutting the tinted leathers and playing with the heels”.

Creativity is a gift but craftmanship is a job that can be learned

The school’s director remembers “ I met with Giovanni Felloni almost 20 years ago at Prada”. Betelli had acquired the Lamos shoe factory that has become Prada footwear division and Felloni was the director. I went to introduce Arsutoria and Felloni surprised me, letting me know that him together with many fellow colleagues in the pattern engineering team had attended our school and he also still kept some historical Arsutoria magazine as they were an important source of insipiration.

Taking inspiration from what I wrote up to know I feel I can assert that creativity is a gift but craftmanship is a job that can be learned. All over Italy, the most prestigious fashions brands are organizing training paths on craftsmanship. As a matter of fact, together with Marche Region ITS, we are working on a collaborative project with a group that brings to market important brands with great success.

Arsutoria has been next to these trainings for years, moving forward with the “savoire faire” tradition in the footwear and leather good field. One-Year Diplomas nowadays are the reference in Italy for those who want to start a carrer in Italy as a designer or as a technician. The bond between design, craftmanship and innovation is one of the characteristics of the Milanese school that guarantee a 360 degrees training.

3D printing and modelling: the new keywords of Arsutoria School’s footwear and bag courses

Years ago I visited the new headquarters of an important design school. During my time there I was shown a sophisticated 3D printer. It was standing still, but the person in charge had bought it as a technical support for the accessories design course. I admit, I left that visit with a mix of both […]

Years ago I visited the new headquarters of an important design school. During my time there I was shown a sophisticated 3D printer. It was standing still, but the person in charge had bought it as a technical support for the accessories design course. I admit, I left that visit with a mix of both admiration and a little bit of envy. 

I wondered why Arsutoria school, which has always been a reference point for other design schools in Milan for technical courses on footwear and bag modelling, had not yet included 3D printing in its courses. Why were we not talking about 3D printing, 3D modelling of footwear, bags, accessories, soles?

3D is a technology that for years has been widely used in the fashion accessories sector for rapid prototyping of components (soles, hardware). It gives the possibility to check the aesthetic of the component once assembled with the product for which it was designed. 

Shoe and Bag Diplomas become richer and more complete with 3D printing

Today I am thrilled to announce that Arsutoria is also 3D printing

Why are we just getting to that now?

I think the main reason is that we were waiting to be ready, both making sure our teachers were able to use it and figuring out how to include the topic into the school’s program in a coherent way.

The 1-Year Diplomas (Shoe and Bag) launched in 2022 are the perfect context to include 3D printing in a path that mixes technique and design with the aim of getting students to make shoe and bag samples on their own during the school’s workshops.

3D printing will be first included in the 4-week shoe 3D design and 4-week bag 3D design courses, during which our students learn the 3D modelling softwares: ICad3D+ for shoes, CLO 3D for bags and Rhinoceros for more technical components such as soles, heels, metal accessories and components that are milled, turned or printed in production.

We also thought to include it in the final 8 weeks of the 1-Year Diplomas (Shoe and Bag), the so called ‘proto weeks’. During this period, the students of the 1-Year Diplomas make samples of the shoes and/or bags that they have conceived and designed during the 5-week design shoe collection and/or design bag collection courses.

After learning how to model in 3D and under the supervision of the teachers – who are technical experts in the sector – the students will be able to create their first prototype, that they can get manufactured by the partner companies.

Matteo Pasca

Director of Arsutoria School

Online courses in shoe & bag design and pattern making: the Arsutoria School offer, between certainties and new exciting challenges

Until February 2020, I used to believe that the structure and offer of Arsutoria School’s online courses in design and pattern making would always be very limited or at least marginal. Since that fateful February 2020, when the pandemic arrived, everything changed. I was obviously wrong … How we thought to develop Online courses in […]

Until February 2020, I used to believe that the structure and offer of Arsutoria School’s online courses in design and pattern making would always be very limited or at least marginal. Since that fateful February 2020, when the pandemic arrived, everything changed. I was obviously wrong …

How we thought to develop Online courses in shoe & bag design and pattern making: our digital transformation path did not start during the pandemic

As the title says, our approach to digital begins much earlier than that awful February 2020.

About ten years ago, in 2012, our school was commissioned by FFANY USA, the National Shoe Retailers Association (organiser of the New York fair), to think, structure and provide online training courses for the footwear sector. The goal was to make it accessible, providing a technical training base, even to those less involved in the production processes of developing a footwear product. We are therefore talking about buyers, merchandisers, store managers, etc. …

Together with our colleagues we started studying the most famous and important American portals and platforms that offered the very first online courses: Coursera, org, Moodle as a platform, Udemy, and many others. It took some time for them and also for us.


In cooperation with colleagues we spoke to several members of the FFANY board gathering their valuable advice on how our online training facility for footwear and bags could be; beyond my mentor Joe Moore, at the time president and CEO of FFANY, I recall two meetings in particular: the first with Jim Issler, the charismatic CEO of HH Brown who shared 10 sheets full of notes, the second with the wonderful Anna Bakst who in 2021 was president of the accessories division (shoes and bags) of Michael Kors.

Online shoe & bag courses: our first experiment on the market

After all these incredible tips, the result was a ten-hour path, organised over three courses:

– Shoe families

– The life of a shoe

– Materials and components that make up the shoe

30 videos of about 20 minutes each. In 10 years, more than 1,000 professionals in the sector have used these videos to acquire a basic vocabulary knowledge and the fundamental concepts of how a shoe is made.

I always like to think that this very first digital approach of our school has helped many international colleagues to become passionate about the fascinating and complex world of footwear manufacturing.

To build these first online videos, it took about one year, from Italian to English translations, voice-overs with professional voice actors, preparation of quizzes to verify the real skills acquired by students, almost all new to us.

We discovered the meaning of words like LMS, SCORM, we developed an internal iOS app in order to download videos and consult them offline. We wanted to provide all online students with the best possible experience.

How online courses in design and pattern making are changing. We are in 2020 and ..

At the the end of February, the unexpected happened: the Italian government ordered the school to be closed to ensure all safety measures. The infections due to the Covid-19 virus increased dramatically.

In a moment we found ourselves immersed in a pandemic that involved every corner of the planet. Nobody excluded.

International students left in a rush to return to their countries, even Italian students returned to their regions. In 2 weeks, the school full of girls and boys, full of life, was emptied.

After a first and inevitable amazement, we rolled up our sleeves and started to think about what we could do to face an unprecedented and long-lasting situation, while still guaranteeing our courses on footwear and bags.

The most important challenge was being able to tansfer the technical skills of our school, that is the famous practical and manual “Know how” to people who would not be physically present in a classroom or laboratory.

We therefore decided to purchase equipment to video shoot: our colleagues from the editorial division of Arsutoria Magazine helped us as they had already been using video languages ​​and content for publishing activities for years.

In the midst of the pandemic, we thus started shooting videos in which we showed how to make shoe models.

Continuing our story in the online training of design and pattern making, shoes and bags, we discussed at length the advisability of organising live lessons or recording videos (on-demand formula).

In the end, we realised that the qualitatively best solution for our students, even taking into consideration the various time zones they are in, would be to record the lessons.

We therefore chose a mixed-type teaching approach: recorded lessons that could be viewed and reviewed several times, with the addition of weekly online reviews with teachers, held both individual and in groups.

We realised that although it is difficult to transmit craft knowledge remotely through shoe videos, this method had advantages: first of all, the possibility of customising the teaching and training for each student in different ways and times, following the rhythms of each one better.

Online courses in shoe & bag design and pattern making. Our current study plan

After almost two years from that February 2020, when our way of living changed, we despose of hundreds of online training hours on footwear and bags. The topics are almost all those taught in face-to-face courses, from traditional pattern making, to the use of 2D and 3D CAD, to hand design and digital graphics.

A fundamental part is missing: the prototype: perhaps we will find a way to teach online also how to make a prototype of a shoe or bag but today we are faced with the fact that our traditional teaching uses industrial machinery and it is unrealistic to think that students who attend remotely may have the same type of equipment available.

But let’s get to the present day

7 January, 2022 and we are proud to be able to offer our online courses. We can even offer the annual diploma remotely online. Even those who do not have the opportunity to travel to Milan and participate in physical courses have therefore the chance to attend the Arsutoria School training.

What challenges will you face next?

At this time, a large part of our team’s attention is turned towards the training for professionals, that is, courses for those who are unable to dedicate 100% of their time.

We have called it “on-demand” training with different needs, both in terms of use of time and intensity level.

Those who already work prefer a “pulverised” training over time, that is, it can be attended even for just a few minutes a day. Moreover, it is clear that a person who is already working has very specific needs and is less interested in a broad basic training than in giving a competent and professional response to specific training requests. We would call this an upgrade of skills in the footwear and bags sector.

Strengthen our offer related to online courses, also expanding the partnerships we are setting up, with the aim of creating a portal completely dedicated to constant education in the footwear, leather goods and accessories sector.

But soon enough you will hear about that too.

Matteo Pasca Arsutoria School Director

Training in footwear factories

Frequentemente si legge nelle dichiarazioni degli imprenditori calzaturieri: “non ci sono più le orlatrici, mancano i tagliatori per i materiali pregiati, è impossibile trovare un premontatore o un modellista”. Il messaggio che sempre più spesso ci arriva da chi gestisce le fabbriche dove si fa il “made in Italy” è che mancano le figure tecniche specializzate che si occupino della produzione delle scarpe. Cerchiamo allora di capire meglio come stanno le cose.

Investing in a successful career in the field of leather goods

Now, more than ever before, why should the young and not so young people look to the leather goods industry for their professional educational needs and the perfection of their own skill sets? Because leather goods is one of the most important voices contributing to the revenue of leading international brands listed on the stock […]

Now, more than ever before, why should the young and not so young people look to the leather goods industry for their professional educational needs and the perfection of their own skill sets? Because leather goods is one of the most important voices contributing to the revenue of leading international brands listed on the stock exchange and the bag is the accessory par excellence and a bestselling item among end customers.
Moreover, for quite some time now, there has been a high and constant demand for employees by bags manufacturers: «Our main concern – explains Stefano Magri from Renato Corti, a well known leather goods producer from Milan, which partners up with the ARSUTORIA School for educational programmes – is that of preserving the expertise and savoir-faire typical of traditional high-end leather goods manufacturing».

Even Francesca Busiello, Senior Account Manager of the Quanta temp agency – with which ARSUTORIA School has collaborated for pattern-making and prototyping courses sponsored by well-known fashion brands – confirms the on-going need in the industry for workers: «The demand for specialised personnel in the leather goods industry is constantly on the rise: production line workers, leather cutters, machine operators, and pattern-makers are just some of the profiles most in demand by the market. The biggest problem that companies are encountering on a daily basis, in fact, is the difficulty in recruiting specialised personnel that can become part of the company, since today many of the current workers are nearing the age of retirement. We are fighting to support companies in this generational changeover, but the number of employment opportunities is far superior to the number of job applicants».


Professional training

What are today’s companies looking for? We ask Matteo Pasca, director of ARSUTORIA School:

«When selecting specialised personnel, three fundamental aspects must be considered: first, the so-called ‘soft skill’ set. Companies are on the lookout for reliable individuals that can be positively inserted into the network of relations in a factory, with the ability to make the most of not only their technical skills, but also their own personal aptitudes. The second fundamental factor is that of workers’ expectations: companies need employees that are genuinely interested in working in a productive context, and not those who see production as a simple stepping-stone towards designer or other similar positions in the company. Last, but not least, manual ability and basic technical knowledge is important, so they can quickly be inserted into the productive process with some kind of background. Today’s rhythms are too fast to even think about hiring people without any kind of expertise and having senior workers show them ropes, as often happened in the past”.

It is exactly these principles on which the professional training courses offered by ARSUTORIA School are founded, as explained by Elena Scavardone, head of the Leather Goods course, and professor with over 10 years of experience in working for some of the most important designer labels: «We teach our students a concrete and manual way of working, the same that is used in the workshops of leading luxury brands. From us, they also learn theory, but above all the practicality of touching with their hands and learning about the materials, the importance of and wide variety of reinforcements, and the problems connected to the development of models. At the same time, they also learn how to construct genuine bag prototypes with their very own hands, thanks to the presence of a fully equipped laboratory right inside the school».

A kind of education that provides the right results, as underlined by Francesca Busiello: «The partnership with ARSUTORIA, first set into motion 4 years ago, fully satisfies the demands of our customers. At the end of the course, in fact, the most talented students are inserted into leading companies in the leather goods segment with fixedterm employment agency contracts or direct internships in the company».

This is what is confirmed by Renato Corti: «We realised that the culture of our work can be taught, when instead we always believed that it could only be passed down from one generation to the next. Out of the 15 students who participated in the Renato Corti Academy project in collaboration with ARSUTORIA School, more than half (after a 6-month internship) moved on to a job in the pattern-making or production departments. The results are excellent!»

Extremely close ties with the sector

ARSUTORIA School is not only the perfect choice for those interested in learning a trade, but also the opportunity for a full-immersion in the world of leather goods, as can be seen by the school’s many dedicated initiatives in recent years:

  • technical workshops for the creation of prototypes by students coming from design schools like Istituto Marangoni and the Domus Academy
  • production, in the school’s in-house laboratory, of bag prototypes to be subsequently presented at international fairs at the stands of Italian manufacturers of materials
  • workshops aimed at the managers of important brands of finished products,
  • guided visits to leading leather goods companies representing the very best in Italian tradition and luxury
  • the collaboration with UNIC, the Italian Tanners’ Association, and the Lineapelle fair
  • the European projects like Erasmus +Leia that in October 2019 will kick off its ambitious programme


The experience of students

Nothing is better, however, than hearing the voice of American Margaret Hennessey, who got her degree from the very first edition of the post-graduate bag semester course, speak of her experience at ARSUTORIA School.

«I began studying the world of leather goods three years ago as a self-taught student, constructing bags by following online courses, until I eventually realised that I needed to learn a correct and professional method for designing and creating my models».

She accordingly decided to come to Italy to attend the semester course of ARSUTORIA School. «For the first twelve weeks, I participated in the Course for Pattern Making, where I made many bag samples, learning how to cut materials and skive and split the leathers, how to use reinforcements, stitch, and follow all the steps needed to create a complete bag prototype. This initial class was followed by a 4-week Design Course, where we faced problems connected to designing a bag collection, while considering themes connected to technical design, to then go on to the 1-week course where we were taught about the concepts of branding, marketing strategies, and market and consumer analysis. During the last part of the semester (the 3-week Bag Making Course) I made the most of and perfected all the things I had previously learned, and from the beginning to the end of it, in the school’s in-house laboratory, created 3 bags: a tote, a clutch, and a backpack».

Margaret discovered the most interesting part of the experience once she had returned to North Carolina: «I was immediately able to dedicate myself to my brand, and raise its quality up to the next level. Now I sell my line of products online ( and I’m making plans for its gradual expansion, while preserving the concept of craft workmanship with a focus on details, which makes the most of everything I learned in Italy».

There is work in the footwear sector!

Training is the concrete answer with which we can start a relaunch process of the Italian footwear and confirm its supremacy in the world”, this way Siro Badon, president of Assocalzaturifici, introduces a crucial theme for the shoe sector, a fundamental driving force of the Italian economy. In political debates today there is much talk […]

Training is the concrete answer with which we can start a relaunch process of the Italian footwear and confirm its supremacy in the world”, this way Siro Badon, president of Assocalzaturifici, introduces a crucial theme for the shoe sector, a fundamental driving force of the Italian economy.

In political debates today there is much talk of relaunching work in Italy, especially for young people. Solutions do not seem easy to find, although in many sectors, especially in the manufacturing sector, the demand for new talents does not lack.
There would be work, for example, in the footwear sector! But what kind of job and what are the real needs of companies? Thanks to the contribution of the sector’s reference Association and of important companies that deal with components and finished products – we examine:
– the situation on the labour market among the companies in the footwear sector
– the importance of investing in training
– what profiles companies look for and which attitudes they require
– training courses to be taken to secure a position



Siro Badon, president of Assocalzaturifici and an important entrepreneur in the footwear sector, introduces the theme: “Footwear companies are going through a very delicate phase, marked by generational turnover, especially related to professional figures employed in the production sector. It is estimated that over the next three and five years, there will be a lack of 48,000 technicians in the entire fashion system.
There are fears that, despite being specialised, schools dealing with our sector will not be able to bridge this important gap, both in terms of numbers and know-how. To learn the trade well, in fact, the academic preparation is not sufficient. Young people who are part of the company need to be supported by experts to deeply understand the various dynamics. This requires a very strong investment, in time and economic resources, which companies often do not have the opportunity to implement”.

Helene Zago e Isabella Dibitonto, respectively human resources director and staff research and selection manager of  RossiModa, a prestigious Venetian shoe factory, further explain the situation facing the world of footwear production: “The average age in our various production departments (from the cutting to the finishing procedure) is particularly high, which poses the urgent problem of generational turnover. We have been dealing with it for 6 years through our internal school that trains young aspirants with courses lasting 2 or 3 months, transmitting them both technical and theoretical know-how. We do train them alongside senior profiles who can complete their preparation in the field, in particular in the assembly and finishing sectors.
Through the collaboration with the Politecnico Calzaturiero and the Employment Agency Umana, and taking advantage of the FormaTemp formula, we also have activated a training course tailored to our needs (hemming, assembly and quality control) which allows us to work with 10 or 12 boys and girls, providing them afterwards with an internship. On average, one third of them gets finally hired”.
ARSUTORIA’s school experience is very similar and its director, Matteo Pasca says: “There are no young hemmers ready to enter the job market, as confirmed by the request of a shoe factory in the Parabiago district that decided to invest in a training course for 8 professional figures. So we set up a hemming laboratory at our headquarters in Milan and started a collaboration between the company (which prefers to remain anonymous) and a temporary agency. The agreement allowed 8 girls (at their first experience or in the process of professional reintegration) to follow a free training course that included frontal lessons and factory experience. The course, co-financed by the FormaTemp fund, led to the full recruitment of all participants». 
Finally, it is again Siro Badon to bring up another problem: “Obviously, our sector offers many job opportunities, but it does not seem particularly attractive for new generations. It is therefore necessary to revive it, making it more interesting for both young people and their families by clearly explaining the many and advantageous job opportunities that the sector offers”.



Silvia Paganini, co-titolare del Tacchificio Villa Cortese e Presidente del Gruppo Giovani di Confindustria Alto Milanese: explains it well: “As regards the world of footwear components (but the concept, we believe, is valid for the entire supply chain, ed.), the growth of big brands has led to an adaptation of the company structures. Now it is necessary to be well organised, by ever remaining flexible, providing careful attention to products and services. Through open innovation, the fusion with the entire supply chain and strong investments in research and development, we must place ourselves towards our customers not only as suppliers, but as partners and solution providers with the aim of anticipating their technical and commercial needs. It is clear that for such a complex job, continuous training is necessary both for those who already occupy positions in the world of work and for those who must enter it”.
Siro Badon reiterates the concept: “Assocalzaturifici is firmly convinced that investing in training and skills is highly strategic for the future of the sector. It is, in fact, essential to train new professional figures capable of innovating Made in Italy footwear companies by perfectly combining them with our tradition and the standards of excellence that characterise our production”.



After listening to all the interlocutors, it seems clear that even though specific technical skills are important, also the so-called soft-skills are valuable for the companies in the footwear supply chain: those attitudes of curiosity, ability to learn and work in a group, in addition to the willingness to make ‘sacrifices’.
“Within our company – explains Silvia Paganini – technical figures are without any doubt our key professionals, the most difficult to find on the market. But, in the growing complexity dictated by the speed of adaptation to new technologies and the fragmentation of orders, technical skills are no longer enough: there is a need for creativity and the ability to work in teams, prerequisites for all innovation processes; there is a need for an attitude towards change, the only constant compared to to the volatility of skills, but also flexibility and curiosity”.
For Siro Badon “companies in the sector are looking for motivated, passionate young people who, above all, want to learn”.
RossiModa adds: “We are also looking for people without any experience. Motivation is what matters most to us. Specific expertise is provided afterwards. Another important aspect is to perfectly understand the expectations of the candidates (and in this sense employment agencies are fundamental to help us through a first selection) because it is crucial to weigh the real ambitions of young people: they must be calibrated and commensurate with the needs of the company. I explain why: training these people is a long-term investment, the results of which will be appreciated only after about 3 years. And it will still take some time to have, for example, good pre-assemblers. It is a bet that therefore implies a significant investment in resources, that’s why the initial selection must be particularly accurate”.

We also ask RossiModa’s managers about the characteristics that not only a production figure must have, but also a Product Manager: “For us it is a crucial role. Each of our client maisons is followed by a dedicated work group and the various product development offices must interpret the needs of the style offices within the various brands and then engineer the collections. 50% of our product managers come from the market (senior profiles) and the rest from an internal training course in which also all the assistants were involved. A very demanding job, that required 5 years. We selected profiles from the business world (mainly coming from the IUAV in Venice) or from experiences such as IED and Marangoni. People with a university background who did not necessarily have previous footwear knowledge”.



As President of Confindustria Alto Milanese’s Youth Group, Silvia Paganini highlights: “We strongly believe in cooperation with schools. Young students are the actors of the future, new entrepreneurs and new collaborators. We are convinced that it is essential to invest in them to ensure continuity and solidity for the future of our companies and Made in Italy.
Collaborating with ARSUTORIA school in numerous projects, for example, has allowed us to create awareness about the professionalism of the footwear sector and to support companies, by forming adequate technical profiles”. Also Assocalzaturifici expresses its satisfaction in the partnership with the Milanese institute: “The results achieved for the two IFTS projects ‘Product and process industrialisation technician for the footwear sector in Lombardy’ activated with ARSUTORIA school are definitely positive. Paths that led to well prepared and motivated students who, then, entered companies with mutual satisfaction.
Unfortunately, the IFTS formula presents two problems: it is subject to a tender and funding by the Lombardy Region and does, therefore, not provide continuity to the programme. Second, funding times do not allow for an adequate promotion of the initiative with the risk of not receiving sufficient adherences”.

It should be recalled that Arsutoria does not just train professional figures dedicated to production, but also those who work in the design or managerial field.
It serves the sector thanks to training financed by interprofessional funds, and provides short workshops shaped on business needs: from sales to office staff, human resources and so on. Or with ad hoc courses for those who want to launch their own footwear brand: 4 days during which you will learn how to deal with the design of the first collections and how to collaborate with factories. Intended for those who want to create their own footwear brand, producing them in Italy or Europe, and who want to avoid main mistakes caused by the lack of experience, in order to start efficiently and be competitive.

And since in recent years, sneakers have established themselves on the footwear market among the best reference products, capable of profoundly influencing the world of fashion and given that, today, there is no major brand that does not offer sneakers in its collections, ARSUTORIA school has decided to launch a brand new 4-week course to learn sneaker design, pattern making and prototyping.

For those who want to train as an all-round professional figure, able to enter the footwear industry with preparation, ARSUTORIA school offers a one-year intensive programme. A very practical approach through which it is possible to learn every aspect of the shoe production: from design to the creation of models, passing through a wide range of technical constructions for both women and men, from casual to elegant styles. And to deepen the knowledge of the materials, understanding their purchase logic.
The programme offers a double perspective on the footwear sector: innovation and tradition. Students learn the use of specific software for 2D and 3D modelling: they create a microfibre prototype designed with these tools and cut with cutting-edge machinery. Thus, they experience what it means to make a sample before starting the prototyping and production phase.
Students also have the opportunity to explore their creativity through the development of a collection, designing and creating a merchandising plan, thus enriching the basic portfolio for their footwear brand.

After acquiring technical skills, they closely work with Italian artisans, at the shoe workshop inside the school, creating their own pairs of shoes (from sneakers to pumps, from sandals to laced-up shoes).
A significant part of the programme is also dedicated to tutoring brand startups: how to work with factories and how to approach the first collections.
Organised visits to major companies in the sector, showrooms and specialised fairs complete the training, preparing students to embrace the footwear sector.

We end with Siro Badon’s words: “The work of us shoe makers is beautiful: it combines manual skills and creativity as well as offering very concrete possibilities of being part of one of the most prestigious Made in Italy sectors”.


Shoe Designer: how to become one, professional profile and training requirements

[toc] In this article we wish to provide a complete overview on the study path as well as the necessary formula to become a shoe design talent. Shoe Designer: which tasks involves? Shoe designers draw footwear for their own line or for the brand they work for and lend their skills, using their aesthetic and […]


In this article we wish to provide a complete overview on the study path as well as the necessary formula to become a shoe design talent.

Shoe Designer: which tasks involves?

Shoe designers draw footwear for their own line or for the brand they work for and lend their skills, using their aesthetic and product knowledge in fashion, design and footwear. Shoe designers generally follow educational paths that allow them to become familiar with drawing and design software.

Read also: Software for shoe designers and technical drawing

Essential information to become a Shoe Designer

Shoe Designers use their knowledge of footwear trends, sample making, materials and design to conceptualize and develop new footwear. Aspiring shoe designers who complete a Bachelor degree or technical training program may have a competitive advantage in the labor market. It is above all through attending practical and operational classes that they can effectively learn all the techniques and secrets to become a successful shoe designer, so as to have the opportunity to showcase their talent within the job market.

Generally speaking, professional designers should also constantly develop and implement their own portfolio of work, containing their own collections, to show potential companies and brands their skills.

Career profile for a shoe designer

From conceptualisation to the final product, designers create shoes for new or existing shoe lines. Using their extensive knowledge of industry trends, design concepts, patterns and materials, they draw designs by hand or with the assistance of computer-aided design (CAD) software. Once the projects are completed, a prototype is created, perfected and used to create samples for industry fairs and portfolios. The level of practical involvement of shoe designers throughout the design process depends on their level of experience and the size of the company they work for.

Training requirements for footwear designers

Aspiring shoe designers can complete design-related study programs, but it certainly isn’t enough to own an in-depth education; as a matter of fact, a well-rounded  professional in the footwear industry should also have the right knowledge of footwear pattern making. To go into the details of shoe making, there are a few subjects and topics that will help you develop your skills in practice:


  • Making. From last analysis to proportional measurements, it is necessary that the professional shoe pattern maker and designer know how to cover the last with masking tape, remove it and flatten it on the cardboard to create the base shell. From this it will be possible to apply the necessary springs to prepare the standard for the specific model, as well as drawing the style lines on the flattened standard (being either the upper or lining standard) and finally get the pieces with all the technical details useful and necessary for cutting, preparation, stitching and lasting.
  • Knowledge of materials. In addition to the knowledge of proportional measurements of lasts and different systems used for measuring sizes and fits, it is necessary for professionals to know different materials, such as leathers. In detail, it is advisable for professionals to know which finishes are available on the market and how to use the same leather in the production phase, for example in cutting the different parts of the models into shapes, with the aim of optimising consumption while maintaining the aesthetics and quality of the footwear.
  • Prototype of the footwear. It is also important that the aspiring shoe designer and/or pattern maker know how to make his own upper, last it on the last together with the lining, glue the bottom, heel and sole and finally finish the shoe.


It should be noted that making is not a marginal knowledge and work of a shoe designer, but is in fact the crucial asset to understand the real composition of a shoe. Understanding this passage is fundamental to access the labour market, as skills related to shoe making are increasingly appreciated and sought after by employers.

Footwear designers. What to do after your studies?


It is certainly important to be able to put your skills into practice into work right away. An opportunity suitable for all is certainly to undertake an internship at a company or design studio. The advice we would like to give you is to present you to the interviews not only with an updated curriculum vitae but also and above all with your own portfolio, which include mood boards and in case of luxury very well accomplished drawings.

The shoe factory

Spending time in the factory is a core for a professional of the shoe industry. In environments very close to production you can deepen what you have learned about shoe pattern making during your studies. It is right inside the factory that a shoe takes shape and it is here that a designer’s sketches take on consistency.

Launching your own collection…YES, but not too soon

It makes sense to think that the end of your studies in shoe pattern making/making or design has as its ultimate goal the marketing of your shoe collection. But be careful not to jump too early and with little experience, as the risk of having a flop is undoubtedly very high. Let’s borrow a symbolic phrase from Sophia Webster, a well-known footwear designer:

“You have to make as much experience as possible and make mistakes, but with other people’s budgets”.

Building your own network

In fashion as in all work sectors, it is important to build relationships. Craftsmen, manufacturers and suppliers are the basis of the work of a professional shoe designer, as these figures are the very source of his craft and in part determine the success of the brand.

Tenacity, creativity and ambition

We want to conclude this article with these three keywords that should be the basis of all the dreams of a designer. The three nouns are and always will be the thread that binds and brings to the top the success of a person in the field of fashion.

Always remember that:

Success comes when opportunity meets preparation”.

Zig Ziglar

Software for shoe designers and technical drawing

In this article we try to understand what software is used by shoe designers. Before talking about shoe design software, we must make a premise: how do you become a shoe designer?


Different type of shoe designs (and shoe designers)

I believe it is appropriate to distinguish between a designer of fashion shoes, designer of sports shoes (which includes hiking, trekking and mountaineering footwear) and a designer of special shoes, such as work and safety footwear. However, not all the shoes available on the market fall within these categories: just think of plastic flip-flops or children’s shoes, bridal shoes or dance shoes.

The category of fashion shoes can include all those companies that offer new proposals for each season. Traditionally, twice a year, although more and more companies are launching four collections every year, some even six and others churn out products continuously (such as fast fashion giants like Zara and H&M).

Designers who work for these companies usually come from fashion design studies or have been trained on the job. There are schools that offer footwear design courses and are generally considered to be fashion schools. Many designers, however, have not studied fashion, but have learned to apply their creativity to the designing of shoes.

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Most of these designers still use pen and paper to create their designs. Some starting from a last (the wooden or plastic tool used to make the shoe) and apply some adhesive tape on it or a plastic shell (tree) and draw the lines of the shoe directly onto the three-dimensional object. This makes the technical transition from design to model easier and more precise because the design is made on the last which will then be used to make the shoe.

Digital software for fashion shoe design

Graphical software

Some designers now use illustration and graphic software: the most common are Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. Illustrator allows turning the design into a vector file, which can then be easily modified. Photoshop makes it possible to scan the materials (e.g. leather and fabrics) and to apply the scanned textures to the design in order to create a so-called rendering, namely, a more realistic design that not only shows the lines of the style, but also simulates the final appearance of the shoe once it is made with the materials.

3D CAD for footwear

Some companies have started to use 3D CAD software to design fashion shoes. One of the most well-known examples of this is Tempe (Zara), where a team of more than 50 shoe designers designs the products using ICad3D+. The same happens inside the German group, Deichmann which also uses ICad3D+ or the US group, Wolverine, which uses Romans CAD. In my opinion, the biggest advantage of creating a 3D design in fashion companies lies in the possibility to communicate more effectively and with precision to designers, thus avoiding interpretations and adjustments that require revisions and modifications (i.e. time and money).

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Not only fast fashion brands use 3D design software (in this case CAD) to coordinate the work between designers and model makers, but also a luxury brand like Hermes. In this case, the process is organized in a different way: the model makers in the Italian factory receive the ideas from the French designers in the traditional way and create the 3D designs before starting the actual prototyping.

In addition to the already mentioned Romans and ICad3D+, there are other 3D design software tools used in the footwear industry such as Shoemaster and Procam. These software tools not only allow creating the 3D design of a shoe but also, starting from this design, making the technical model, i.e. the instructions for cutting the pieces of the upper and the lining of the shoes.

Digital software for sport shoe design

However, things change considerably when we move from the fashion world to sports companies. The time-to-market for new products are very different: technical innovation and the need to guarantee performance require longer times for the work groups who carry out the research, design, industrialisation and field tests of the products placed on the market. An example is Nike’s flyknit, which remained in incubation for a few years before being launched on the market in 2012.

Sport/athletic shoe designers

Who designs sports shoes? In sports companies, not many designers come from fashion design schools. It is much more common to find designers who studied industrial and product design. Probably because this type of professional is accustomed to looking at the design in terms of functionality rather than in terms of aesthetics. They are more used to researching the materials and are more familiar with designing moulded items such as rubber or plastic, which are used to make the soles of sports shoes.

Let’s not forget that the sports world is primarily a world of enthusiasts (see for example, Phil Knights book “Shoe Dog” on the history of Nike). Therefore, it is common for sports companies to find their personnel, including designers, among the sportsmen themselves or sports enthusiasts. The reason is simple: these people know what customers who practice these sports need, because they practice it themselves with passion (just think of running, but also mountaineering).

Sports shoe designers are used to working with pencil and paper. D’Wayne Edwards, founder of the Pensole school and a designer at Nike, has always declared that everything starts with a pencil (and the pencil is part of the name of the school he founded for lovers of sports shoes). However, designers who studied industrial design are increasingly used to working with graphics software. Like the fashion industry, the most widely used software tools are Illustrator and Photoshop.

They are probably not used at the start, but are used to bring the design to a more technical level after the creative idea has been conceived. Sports companies increasingly want their designers to use 3D modelling software. The same company uses different software tools – think of giants such as Adidas and Nike, as well as New Balance, Asics, Brooks, Mizuno etc. – such as traditional 3D modelling software programs like Rhino and 3Ds Max.

Rhino, Solidworks, Illustrator, and Maya

There are many 3D design software tools available on the market, all very different from each other in terms of technical possibilities and cost. A licence for Rhino – one of the most popular – costs less than €1,000 and Rhino plug-ins exist that allow automating many operations needed to design a shoe or sole. While a complete licence of 3D CAD shoe software programs (i.e. Shoemaster, Romans and Icad3d+) can cost a company about €10,000.

Free software tools are also available to create the 3D design.

Clearly, these software only allow creating the 3D design, and it often takes a long time to make some parts of the shoe (think of the strings or tiles of a track sole) which can be designed in a faster and more automated way using shoe design software. What’s more, it is harder to send the design data to those involved in the technical development (both for cutting the pieces of the upper and for creating the mould of a sole).

In many companies, this separation between 3D design and technical development does not seem to be a problem. It is not uncommon to see designers in large companies who have little to do with the technical developers and the company itself does not encourage the use of integrated systems.

3D printing in footwear design

Once a 3D design has been created, it has many uses: it can be used to create a prototype of the shoe through 3D printing. The 3D printers available on the market are still not able (but are almost there) to make shoes with the same performances as those produced in the traditional way. But they can already make maquettes to evaluate the look of the shoes and in some cases for an initial evaluation of the fit. A 3D design can also be used by sophisticated rendering systems to create images similar to real photographs. This opens up the possibility of creating virtual catalogues, e-commerce sites and interactive windows in stores and many other applications where 3D design replaces the physical product

Safety shoes

Finally, I would like to say a few words about safety footwear sector. A world where – in Europe certainly, but more and more so in other countries – products must meet a complex system of standards that lay down the requirements for so-called personal protective equipment (PPE). In many ways, this sector has aspects that are common to the sports world: functionality is just as important as aesthetics. Moreover, we are talking about shoes with soles in rubber or other plastic materials (e.g. polyurethane) and with constructions similar to those of sports shoes, especially trekking and mountaineering shoes.

Unlike the sports sector, the safety footwear sector is not dominated by large companies and therefore very few technical innovations are seen in this sector, such as those we see in the world of sports shoes.

Designers of safety shoes also come from the world of industrial design, although many are design and production engineers who also like to focus on the design. Most of them work in the traditional manner, with paper and pencil, some use graphics software and others use 3D modelling software, in particular, when you consider the complexity of the structure of soles for work and safety shoes.


To sum up, the world of shoes is very big. Let’s not forget that many of the shoes produced every year (especially in the Far East) are low-cost shoes made entirely of plastic materials. However, the more we move towards shoes with greater added value, the larger the contribution of designers. We have seen that some designers come from creative studios, some from fashion design schools, others from industrial design schools. Shoes are still generally designed in the traditional way using paper and pencil, but more and more companies require the knowledge of software, mainly graphics software such as Illustrator and Photoshop. 3D design software has existed for many years, but it only really began to be used in companies a few years ago, mainly in larger companies and in general sports companies, but not only.