Final year Footwear Design student Woosung Kim says he ‘still cannot quite believe it’ after winning top prize at one of the UK’s biggest fashion trade shows.
The De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) student had to suspend his studies when he was conscripted to serve for two years in the South Korean army.
Woosung in front of lasts at the DMU Footwear Design studios
Returning to complete his third year in September 2022 proved to be a challenge and Woosung was worried he might not catch up with the rest of his cohort.
But Woosung’s creativity and determination saw him win the MODA footwear award for his design, based on an orienteering theme mixed with the Y2K themes loved by Gen Z fashionistas, including a trend for cowboy boots.
His shoe matched the technical side of hiking boots, such as waterproofing, cushioning and fast fastening, with a cowboy boot-style gaiter, which covers the front to keep debris out while walking a trail.
Woosung's design with the cowboy boot gaiter attached
He said: “I still cannot believe I won the top prize. My other classmates’ designs were so cool. I’m still not quite sure what the judges said about my shoe as I was so surprised when they read out my name.
“I spent two years in the army in Korea. I was worried about catching up when I returned to DMU.
“After I won I called my mum in Korea. She did not answer straight away so I sent over the picture of the prize and she was delighted.
“I think the Footwear Design course is so good. We have access to great equipment such as the 3D printer and laser cutting. The tutors are great too and give us plenty of advice about our work.”
Woosung's design board showing his creations
The awards initiative was set up by MODA and DMU Footwear Design BA programme leader Nanette Westberg-Brown to showcase the incredible young creative talent at the university and show tens of thousands of visitors from around the globe what the future of footwear is going to look like.
All 16 final year Footwear students from DMU were invited to display their innovative designs at the show, which ran at NEC Birmingham earlier this month.
Woosung’s winning design was announced live at the show from a shortlist of nine DMU students.
Woosung gets some media attention for his design
Woosung says that once he graduates in the summer he wants to look at getting some work experience with a high-end fashion brand and dreams of making shoes for the catwalk for names such as Givenchy, Alexander McQueen and Burberry.
“In the future I want to make my own brand based in London or Seoul,” he added.
The nine finalists from DMU were Baldeep Nangla, known as Bobby, Woosung Kim, Gyoungryoung Kwak, known as Lynn, Cameron Murdoch, Jong Won Kim, Madison Harwood-Scott, Jemma Swales, Jihwi Ahn and Alfie Payne.