Connections with the local area and brands are the strengths of these educational institutions.

[On cover: Photo by Ian Schneider]

Many schools and institutes in Italy offer courses in fashion and accessories, providing training in the various professions comprising the sector. Only a few, however, are dedicated solely to footwear. Of these, three are recognised at an international level, attracting students from around the world. Forging connections with local brands is what makes these educational programmes stand out.

Cercal in San Mauro Pascoli offers, among others, a 600-hour Shoe Design course that thoroughly studies all phases of shoe design, from design research and collection development to modelling techniques and CAD. The course sometimes ends with an internship and graduates find employment in design and product development, or pattern-making departments. 

The 800-hour (including internships) IFTS course for technicians in the design and manufacture of footwear products is financed by Emilia Romagna Region through the European Social Fund. This technical course studies different types of software for 2D and 3D modelling, 3D printing and software for product data management. The course develops various skills, such as technical design and development of footwear, component parts, and accessory manufacturing techniques.

The “Shoe Academy” course focuses on training shoe manufacturing technicians, selected through regional tenders with the European Social Fund. Offered free of charge once a year, the 600-hour course comprises internships and provides a number of career opportunities in the field of leather footwear manufacturing. Cercal has a workshop that operates like a mini-factory, enabling students to make prototypes, though they turn to shoe companies if they need to create more sophisticated effects. To find out more, check out

Arsutoria School in Milan specialises in accessories, namely shoes and bags, with programmes for undergraduates and graduates from Naba, Marangoni, IED, etc. Offering courses lasting 5 days, a semester or a year, this international school offers a multi-cultural environment where the main language is English. The 3 in-house workshops (a shoe factory, leather workshop and hemming room) make the courses practical, enabling students to gain an in-depth understanding of the product and its development. Arsutoria also offers programmes in the USA, Singapore, Mexico and other countries, and collaborates with institutions such as Naba, Marangoni, Domus Academy and international schools. For more information, see

Politecnico Calzaturiero in Vigonza is a school focusing on shoe and leather design and techniques, taught by entrepreneurs, designers, technicians and consultants from local shoe companies and the world of fashion, enabling the skills taught and the educational programmes offered to be constantly updated. With regards to shoes, there are courses in pattern-making (basic classics, advanced classics and sports and leisure footwear modelling) and for designers and shoe technicians (design, industrialisation of models and structures, handmade luxury shoes).

The pattern-making courses equip students with all the basic skills they need to work in companies as modellers and technicians. 

The master’s courses prepare students to deal with problems concerning the design or industrialisation of the product, as well as manual techniques and the use of new technologies (2D/3D CAD – rapid prototyping). For more information, visit