UK Student Design Competition Footwear Winner 2023: Woosung Kim

Footwear Winner: Woosung Kim

UK Student Design Competition Footwear Winner 2023: Woosung Kim

Woosung Kim, a South Korean footwear designer based in London, originally planned to study architecture in the UK after high school. However, his life took an unexpected turn during his first year in the country. While undertaking foundation course, he had the opportunity to enroll in a fashion class, which led to a profound shift in his academic and career interests. This experience ignited his passion for fashion and design, prompting a change in his study direction. His unwavering commitment to the craft is the driving force behind his desire to create designs that are both aesthetically captivating and conceptually well-considered. He draws deep inspiration from visual morphological elements, diligently analysing and incorporating them into his designs, infusing each creation with a profoundly philosophical narrative.



Tell us about the inspiration behind your project:

This project aimed to combine the past and future, create new DNA for footwear design. I drew inspiration from a classic Western style cowboy boot, a style and silhouette that has recently reentered fashion territory and has been swiftly gaining popularity among Gen Z consumers who have an increasing interest in all things vintage. I focused on appearance aspects of the cowboy boot such as the ankle shape and harnesses. Contrastingly, inspired by futuristic imagery, I also focused on a utilitarian style of shoes. As a result, I designed a shoe that could be transformed into several wearable shapes and styles, despite being a singular shoe. This fusion of history and new technology produced an innovative outcome with characteristics from past and future styles.

What do you think makes leather a great material to design with?

Leather is one of the most popular materials that humans have used for the longest time. Sometimes it is soft and sometimes it is hard. It offers a versatile spectrum, ranging from pliable softness to solid rigidity, thereby accommodating a wide array of design possibilities. Thin leather assumes a textile-like softness, while thicker variants emulate the sturdiness of wood. This inherent variability allows for diverse applications, making leather a remarkably adaptable medium. Thanks to this we can make anything with leather. Besides, leather is sustainable because it is made from natural animal hides.


What has been your experience in working with leather for this competition?

For this project, I did a lot of experiences with leathers. To make a perfect curve for cowboy boot shape, I did a blocking which is the traditional method and a vacuum forming to make a cover of toe. It was a pretty tough journey to make perfect shapes I designed, but I could do it because it was leather.


How do you think winning this competition will impact your career as a designer?

This experience has bolstered my confidence in shoe design. Furthermore, winning this competition presents an invaluable opportunity to extend the reach of my designs to a broader audience and various industry stakeholders, potentially opening doors to promising opportunities.


Click here to learn more about the UK Design Competition.

Click here to learn more about leather and sustainability.