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Annual Awards 2013

The seventh Footwear Friends Annual Awards were held in the quirky Cinema Museum on November 12th. The Awards recognise the extraordinary entrepreneurial talent emerging in the footwear industry.

The winners in the various categories were:

The Footwear Friends Designer Award

Diego Vanassibara, was awarded a £5,000 bursary aimed at developing a Young Designer’s business. The 2013 Award is generously sponsored this year by Pavers and Step 2wo. The Award includes a 12-month mentoring programme by industry experts. His eponymous menswear brand features beautifully crafted, stunning shoes already available in some key international retail outlets.

Diego Vanassibara

The award was the first prize I won in my career as a footwear designer. I’m grateful to the mentors, sponsors, judges and Footwear Friends team who have made this experience a brilliant one.

The mentorship I received was excellent and it covered the areas that I needed most support with. The generous prize from the award helped the brand to pay the costs of showcasing at both London Collections: Men and Paris Men’s Fashion Week, where we keep on showing to date.

Receiving the award was an amazing incentive. The recognition that came with it served to fuel even more my excitement to keep on working hard to produce great footwear and to make my customers very happy. Thank you Footwear Friends!

Diego Vanassibara
Winner of the Designer Award

The Micro-Pak Ltd. Award

This new Award of £2,500 plus 12-months mentoring programme was presented to Suffolk Shoes and sponsored by Micro-Pak Ltd. Jadd Friedman, the owner, designs and manufactures interesting and high quality casual shoes and is looking to expand significantly.

Jadd Friedman

The Micro-Pak award, awarded by Footwear Friends to Suffolk Shoes, has helped me to develop new products; funding new lasts, pattern grading, materials, tools, and machine servicing.

A project which arose from winning the award has been to develop one of my designs for Oliver Sweeney shoes. The owner became my mentor, and after corresponding with his colleagues to improve the finish of my product, I directed funds from the award to service relevant machinery which has benefited all of our production.

Being recognised by Footwear Friends with an award is a great honour, and gives me assurance that my dream of becoming a manufacturer of footwear in England is worth pursuing.

Jadd Friedman of Suffolk Shoes Ltd.
Winner of the Micro-Pak Ltd. Award

The Meltzer Travel Award

This year’s award went to Save your Sole. The Award of £750 is primarily to assist candidates in attending key Trade Shows and researching materials and trends. Donated by Philip Meltzer in memory of Joe Meltzer. Again this Award includes a mentoring programme. Amanda Collins, the founder, has created two innovative shoe care products that are taking the footwear world by storm. We will see a lot of her brand in the future!

Amanda Collins

For Save Your Sole winning The Joe Meltzer Travel Award allowed us to travel to the USA to take part in Sole Commerce show in New York in February. It gave us the opportunity to showcase our luxury shoe care product range and show how the products work including our newly developed Sole Sticker (an instant self adhesive & removable shoe sole). We met a number of new retailers and as a result are now sold in a number of new markets including Canada, Greece, China and the USA. We also met a number of fashion companies who now use our Sole Stickers internally within their business to protect their sample shoes used for press and runway. We also signed our first exclusive distributor into a market we had not sold in previously. The award also included 12 months of mentoring with Tim Cooper of Oliver Sweeney which has been invaluable whilst we negotiate working with new retailers, distributors and agents.

Many thanks to Richard Kottler, Tim Cooper and the British Footwear Association and Footwear Friends for their support and guidance.

Amanda Collins of Save your Sole
Winner of the Joe Meltzer Travel Award
2013 Footwear Friends Award Winners


The 2013 Award went to Nicola Sexton. The BFA/FN PLATFORM Award winner is given the opportunity to show their emerging brand on a sponsored stand at the USA’s premier footwear show – BFA/FN PLATFORM at Magic in Las Vegas. Nicola has been running a shop in East Anglia for a number of years and has developed her own brand of elegant and internationally appealing ladies shoes – shown successfully at the Platform show.

This year saw the highest number of applications for the awards yet and 14 of the applicants made it to interview stage. The judges were extremely impressed with the standard of this year’s entries and well thought out presentations. What was especially impressive this time was the high level of creativity and innovation, even if some of the brands needed help to turn the proposition into a commercial opportunity. But that is what the Awards are all about!

Sample products from all the applicants were on show at the Annual Awards Presentation Evening and all the 130 people attending saw some of the most extraordinary British footwear talent around at the moment.

Richard Kottler, President of Footwear Friends, commenting on the fourteen young entrepreneurs interviewed
Footwear Friends Annual Award 2013

Footwear Friends are grateful to the event sponsors without whom the evening would not be possible: Annette Cove Associates; City Link; Colvanbridge Ltd.; Dune; The University of Northampton; Pure London; SATRA; Schuh; Shubiz and Tilley’s Wines.

For further information and a full slide show of the event photographs please visit the Awards website, Income from this sponsored event goes to the charitable works of Footwear Friends, the only Footwear Industry Charity.