How To Become A Materials Designer in Footwear

Footwear Materials Designers are highly creative problem solvers who produce the best design, innovation, and materials solutions to meet the performance of lifestyle needs of a sneaker consumer.

Career Profile, Salary & Job Outlook —

What does a Materials Designer do?

Footwear Materials Designers are highly creative problem solvers who produce the best design, innovation, and materials solutions to meet the performance of lifestyle needs of a sneaker consumer. In addition, they elevate the consumer experience by crafting materials that are high-quality and trend-relevant for a range of sneakers. They do this while driving an emotional connection to materials for the consumer through the use of narrative and storytelling. Furthermore, Materials Designers will take a sneaker from conceptualization all the way to finalizing tech packs, working with manufacturing partners, to communicating directly with athletes or collaborators.

How much does a Materials Designer make?

According to Comparably, Footwear Materials Designers make a national average of $59,726 annually or $28.71 an hour in 2021. In general, entry-level footwear materials designers make around $55,500 annually, with senior-level footwear materials designers making $66,924 a year.

What impact does this career have towards the sneaker industry?

Materials Designers build the future of sneaker companies through their materials library. They also become part of a brand’s product legacy as they work on a range of materials, craft new technologies for brand new models and styles, all the way to curating and elevating existing materials for classics and iconic products.

What is the job outlook for a Materials Designer?

The Footwear market is expected to show a volume growth of 4.0% in 2022. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth in the fashion design industry (including Materials Designer, Footwear) is projected to grow one percent during the 2018-2028 decade (www.bls.gov).

How to kick-off your career:

  • Stay up to date on sneaker releases pushing the capabilities of materials.
  • Collect inspiration of sneakers with your favorite materials or textiles on them.
  • Learn about textiles and sneaker materials and understand limitations and new technlogies.
  • Download our Ultimate Sneaker Career Guide to understand the pathway into this career.
  • Explore our Sneaker Essentials online course to understand the Design & Materials process.
Jon Tang, Footwear Creative Director

Learn from:
Jon Tang
Sneaker Essentials contributor, Fronteer

Experiences: Founder & Creative Director, Fronteer
Senior Designer, Collaborations & Special Projects, K-Swiss

Related Careers:

Men’s Footwear Designer | Women’s Footwear Designer | Kid’s Footwear Designer | Footwear Graphic Designer | Creative Director, Footwear | Design Engineer | Sneaker Customizer | Color Designer | Athletic Footwear Designer | CAD Engineer, Footwear

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