A Guide to Complete #SneakerSchool in 6 Months

The Fashion Institute of Technology x Complex Sneaker Essentials online course is an immersive learning experience, featuring dozens of video lessons, interactive assignments, and informative reading totaling about 45 hours. Students have a full calendar year to complete #SneakerSchool, but enrolling in this course doesn’t require a full-time commitment that disrupts your work or social life. By setting aside 3 hours or less per week, you can complete #SneakerSchool in six months. We’ve created a guide to help students schedule out their coursework.

Complete Sneaker School in 6 months
Set aside 3 hours or less per week to complete #SneakerSchool in six months.

Month 1: 

The Sneaker Essentials online course consists of seven modules and can be broken up and taken in intervals of one to two modules per month. The first module, Introduction To History And Culture, is an overview of the history of the sneaker and modern sneaker culture and an introduction of performance footwear.

Week 1 (2 Hours): 

Begin by watching videos one through 15 then, turn your attention to the first article, “Sneakers Have Always Been Political Shoes,” from The Atlantic. The piece explores critical socioeconomic and cultural milestones in sneaker history. For this module, the second piece you’ll read is “Material Matters: Fables Of The Forgotten.” This essay examines key sneaker innovations and important product milestones. 

Week 2 (2 Hours): 

The second week is dedicated to your first course assignment. In this activity, Building A Sneaker Portfolio, students create an account on StockX to track their sneaker portfolios. The purpose of this assignment is to allow students to showcase their style while providing context regarding the valuation of sneakers.

Week 3 (2 Hours):

In week three, watch videos 16 through 35 on topics covering the rise of famed Nike designer Tinker Hatfield and the influence of athletes on sneaker technology. When you’re done with the video portion, complete the third reading, “Confessions of a Sneaker Addict.” Initially written for Source Magazine, the essay has been dubbed “the first piece of sneaker journalism” by Sole Collector.

In week three, watch videos 16 through 35 on topics covering the rise of famed Nike designer Tinker Hatfield and the influence of athletes on sneaker technology.

Week 4 (2 Hours): 

Week four concludes with another assignment, “What’s Your Grail?” This activity asks students to tell the story of their favorite sneakers. Overall, the course is an introduction to sneaker advertising and marketing.

Month 2: 

In the second month, the focus switches to the second module, Sneaker Design. This module takes through the creative process, from sketching to prototyping. Students learn about the importance of striking a balance between branding and performance.

Week 1 (2 Hours): 

Start week two with videos one through 13. Lessons cover the design brief, the design calendar, the tech pack, and materials used in manufacturing. After completing the videos, read written coursework “6 Must-Know Tips For New & Aspiring Shoe Designers,” a compilation of expert tips for aspiring sneaker designers from industry professionals.

Week 2 (2 Hours): 

Creating a Mood Board is the first assignment of module two. Students search for sources of inspiration in the world around them, such as art, architecture, fashion, street style, photography, and others, to create mood boards that document and communicate their design ideas to others.  

Week 3 (2 Hours): 

In week three, finish the rest of the video lessons and watch videos 21 through 39. Lectures cover topics on visual brainstorming, the rendering process, sneaker sketching and drafting, logo application, and branding.

Week 4 (2 Hours):

For the final project of month two, students sketch and present their ideas for three sneaker silhouettes in the Designing A Pair of Sneakers activity.

Month 3:

Now that you have gotten through the first two modules and your brain is warmed up and ready to go, the workload increases slightly. During the third month, students will work on modules three, Sneaker Manufacturing and Production, and four, Sneaker Distribution and Retail.

Week 1 (45 Minutes): 

The week begins by watching videos one through seven. Students get familiar with the manufacturing process, creating samples, and assembling uppers. Once the videos are complete, check out your next reading assignment, “Ways to Develop and Support a Sustainable Footwear Industry,” which addresses the growing level of awareness around eco-consciousness in manufacturing.

Week 2 (1 Hour): 

In week two, watch videos eight through 14. These lessons focus on the outsole — injection molding versus compression molding and the benefits of using cupsoles or vulcanization. After exploring the world of soles, take the first virtual tour of the course. Students glimpse the manufacturing process as Brooklyn Shoe Factory Co-founder Rebecca Heykes takes them through the Hoboken, New Jersey headquarters. She explains vital components, machinery, and equipment necessary to manufacturing.

Week 3 (45 Minutes): 

Week three finishes up the video section of module three. Watch videos 15 through 20, which discuss the final steps of sneaker assemblage and the importance of quality control. Then, tour UBIQLAB in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with Brand Director Kyle Riggle.

Week 4 (2 Hours): 

For the final week of month two, begin work on module four. Watch the first 12 videos to learn about trade shows, retail supply chains, and sneaker shopping. Then, revisit the portfolio you created during week two of the first month for your first assignment. Examine how the sneakers you selected have changed in value.

Complete Sneaker School in 6 months
Follow this guide to #SneakerSchool in six months.

Month 4:

During month four, continue your work from the end of month three and focus on completing the fourth module, Sneaker Distribution and Retail.

Week 1 (2 Hours and 30 Minutes): 

During this week, watch videos 13 through 18. These lessons are about sneaker boutiques and their influence on sneaker culture. After watching these videos, there’s a research activity, Exploring Unique Boutiques.

Week 2 (2 Hours and 30 Minutes): 

Continue learning about sneaker boutiques with video lessons 19 through 24. There are several case studies spotlighting successful boutiques. Once the videos have been completed, there’s an assignment, Planning Your Sneaker Boutique. This activity pushes students to conceptualize their boutique ideas and present their plans.

Week 3 (3 Hours):

Watch videos 25 through 36. Each video lesson dives into sneaker drops, and the ever-evolving resell market. The next assignment, Building Your Boutique, is a continuation of the previous activity. During this exercise, students use their boutique concepts to design floor plans for their theoretical boutique.

Week 4 (3 Hours):

On the final day of the week, wrap up module four by watching videos 37 through 41 to learn about engaging customers through boutique customization. Then complete the Sneaker Con virtual 360 tour. In your final assignment of this module, Marketing in a Consumer Show, students apply what they learned from the Sneaker Con tour to create their booth plan and vendor budget. 

In these videos, Jeron Smith from Curry 30 Inc. and Joe La Puma from Complex share lessons on brand identity and connecting with an audience.

Month 5:

Month five covers the fifth module, Brand Strategy and Marketing. This module introduces students to core concepts of marketing and sales and teaches them to develop a brand identity that will connect with consumers. 

Week 1 (1 Hour and 30 Minutes):

Watch the first 20 video lessons. In these videos, Jeron Smith from Curry 30 Inc. and Joe La Puma from Complex share lessons on brand identity and connecting with an audience. Students learn about marketing plans and traditional marketing tactics. This section features a case study of Josh Luber on StockX Marketing.

Week 2 (2 Hours): 

Use this week to complete your first assignment, Brand Attributes. Students conceptualize the brand attributes and core values that define their sneaker brand and set it apart from competitors. 

Week 3 (1 Hour 30 Minutes): 

Watch videos 21 through 41. Lessons focus on digital marketing, celebrity brand endorsements, collaborations with other brands, and nonprofit options in the sneaker industry.

Week 4 (2 Hours): 

During this week, work on and submit your next assignment, Creating a Customer Persona. In this activity, students identify and determine the characteristics of their target customers. They then create a persona document exploring and highlighting a set of general customer characteristics that will help them understand their target customer’s wants, needs, and desires.

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Month 6:

You’re almost at the finish line! The primary objective of the final month is module six, Sneaker Media. Key concepts in this module include recognizing how media is used in product marketing and branding and building your own digital brand in the sneaker world.

Week 1 (1 Hour): 

Watch videos one through ten. In these lessons, experts like Gerald Flores from Sole Collector and Richard “Maze” Lopez from Full Size Run provide an overview of the evolution of sneaker media, from sneaker blogging to film and television. Also, carve out time to read the first piece, “Creating Video Content for Social Media.” This coursework helps students understand the basics of video production for social media.

Week 2 (1 Hour): 

In videos 11 through 21, Flores and Russ Bengtson discuss the emergence of online meme culture, social media’s impact on sneaker media, and viral content. Once you finish those videos, there is more written coursework. In “The Basics of Smartphone Video Production,” students read about reapplying the concepts of video production through the accessibility of smartphones. 

Week 3 (30 Minutes): 

Watch the final videos of module six, 22 through 24. These lessons build upon what students have learned earlier in the course about video production, culminating in a tutorial on making an unboxing video. 

Week 4 (4 Hours): 

For the final Sneaker Essentials assignment, Creating Sneaker Media, students apply the marketing principles they have learned along with the tips from experts to create a video that tells a story, promotes a product, and resonates with the sneaker audience.

The seventh module, Sneaker Law, features 20 short video lessons from Jared Goldstein and Kenneth Anand. This module can be completed in two hours.

Do you want to learn about sneaker careers and which one may be right for you? Download our free Ultimate Sneaker Career Guide. Or, if you’re ready to enroll in #SneakerSchool, head over to FIT x Complex Sneaker Essentials.

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