Posts Tagged ‘D’Wayne Edwards’






















PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy in partnership with FNPLATFORM and STITCH FACTORY is pleased to announce the launch of the FN PLATFORM Challenge – a hands-on, 2-week intensive, footwear design Master Class created to identify and introduce aspiring footwear designers in Las Vegas to the art of footwear design.

After the 2-week Master class all 10 designers will attend the FN PLATFORM show at Magic, February 18-20, 2014 in Las Vegas where the winners will be announced.

Submission Deadline: January 15, 2014

Applicants must submit original shoe designs Hand Sketched and rendered in pencil or markers

Class Dates: January 20-31st

Register to Learn More

Nevada Designers Register Here
California Designers Register Here
Arizona Designers Register Here
Utah Designers Register Here

Future of Footwear 2013



Just over a month ago 20 designers where selected to attend PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy for a chance to prove that they are the “Future of Footwear”.   Over the last 3 weeks these students have learned from industry professionals ranging from design directors, design managers, designers, design recruiters and hiring managers.  See the results of the hard work put in by the students as they present their designs at 5pm PDT (July 12, 2013). Streaming live at:


After you watch the presentations VOTE for your favorite designs in each category.

  • Lifestyle
  • Performance:  Voting is now closed
  • Kids:  Voting is now closed
  • Made In USA:  Voting is now closed
  • Sustainable:  Voting is now closed
  • Dress:  Voting is now closed

July 19, starting at 4:00 p.m. PDT, see the final presentations by the 24 scholarship-winners of the 2013 PENSOLE Future of Footwear Awards and Master Class, held in partnership with FN PLATFORM the shoe show at MAGIC and

And at 6:00 p.m. PDT the finalists who will be sent to Las Vegas next month for FN Platform will be announced LIVE!

Logon to


10 semi-finalists will be selected to have samples of their designs made and will be awarded a trip to Las Vegas to have their designs on display at the PENSOLE booth at FNPLATFORM, August 19-21, 2013.


Future of Footwear 2012 Dress Winner: Chris Dixon


As you wrap up your Future of Footwear submissions, we bring you the final installment in our 5-week series.  This week we catch up with Chris Dixon, 2012 Future of Footwear Dress winner. 

Did you have any footwear background prior to the Future of Footwear class? 

Prior to Future of footwear I studied graphic design at Harding University. I always sketched sneaker ideas but never really knew the correct process of designing footwear. I had my first big opportunity with footwear design when I competed and won Futuresole in 2010 (mentored by Benjamin Nethongkome). Attending Pensole Prep (Spring 12′) helped me gain more knowledge with the industry way of designing footwear. I can say my design journey has been a bit different than others.

Tell us about your experience in the Future of Footwear class.

Being Coached, mentored and taught by D’Wayne Edwards and Suzette Henry was priceless. From day one I knew it was going to be a tough challenge because of the talent level that was in my category.
Even though it was a competition, everyone in the Pensole studio was willing to help each other out in anyway possible which was weird but hey we were in Portland. We worked long hours as individuals and in teams. I was teamed up with Matthew DeAlmeida, Jared Fiorovich, Jan-Maarten Lubberts and Johnning.(3 of us won in our categories) I admired Matt’s sketching ability and Jared’s hands on skills so I sat close to those guys. We had a lot of guest from Nike and Jordan that came to share advice and critique our projects.  Seeing everyone work and enjoy what they were doing made the atmosphere just exciting. This was simply the best time I have had while competing for a life changing experience.

As part of the class, you where selected to attend the Platform tradeshow in Las Vegas, what was that like?

Making it to the show was very exciting because it was the first time we got a chance to hold our 3d models and samples. Seeing the world of footwear in one room was pretty daunting at first. As time went by it became fun to tell everyone about our different projects and Pensole Design Academy. Since this was the first time a school was in the show we got a great deal of attention. The live voting made people want to get involved and support there favorite project. I would say the coolest thing that happened at the booth was a lot of different buyers were approaching me to place orders for my design. That made me feel like a winner before they announced the winners.

You where selected as the winner of the Future of Footwear in the Dress shoe category.  Can you tell us about your design?

My challenge was to make a shoe for a woman that would make My brief was to design a high heel for the fashion forward business woman. I wanted to focus on a very successful business women feeling and looking her best throughout her busy day. Her surroundings throughout her day became my inspiration as well as the design story. It came together nicely  because I created a particular high class lifestyle I called the diamond lifestyle which started Diamond Lifestyle Collection .

At the Platform tradeshow, you where presented with a pullover of your design.  What was it like to see a pullover of your design for the first time?

That was crazy. I was the last to make it to Vegas so everyone was waiting to see my design. I was extremely excited to see it because of the complexity of the heel.  When DE pulled it out the box it made me think about all the sleep I missed and the headaches of finding the design was well worth it. It is a feeling that never gets old.

What have you been up to over the last 8 months, since I saw you in Las Vegas for the FoF 2012?

For the Last 8 months I have been working on my first collection including this design. I had a chance to work with Suzette Henry in Italy at the Lineapelle materials show, which was incredible. She helped me with shopping the show and basically finding the best materials. Other than that it has been just the beautiful struggle of finding factories and making progress as an independent designer.

What advice do you have for designers looking to be apart of the Future of Footwear class of 2013?

Future of Footwear will give you the experience that you just will not get any where else. I will advice you to try to earn a spot!

Great advice! You can submit your designs to earn a spot HERE

Future of Footwear 2012 Skate Winner: Jared Fiorovich

Hopefully you are all hard at work on your submissions for this year’s Future of Footwear class.  The deadline is only days away.  Take a break for minute as we catch up with Jared Fiorovich, 2012 Future of Footwear Skate winner.

Did you have any footwear background prior to the Future of Footwear class?
I’ve been riding a skateboard most my life and have been interested in footwear just as long, I was always trying to find a way to improve performance and durability.  I sketched lots shoes over the years and eventually started deconstruction, reconstructing and making my own shoes to skateboard in. The first big step I took towards shoe design was a class at Art Center by Grant Delgatty in 2011, then I got in to Pensole prep class in 2012.

Tell us about your experience in the Future of Footwear class.
Future of Footwear was one of the best experiences of my life. There was so much information and knowledge to absorb every second, from D’Wayne Edwards to every person who stepped into PENSOLE. It was inspiring to have these amazing individuals helping in the class and with our projects. It made me want to work my hardest and and strive to produce better work.

As part of the class, you where selected to attend the Platform trade show in Las Vegas, what was that like?
Wow! At the Trade show there were shoes and materials as far as the eye can see, it was crazy. It was a great experience to present my project to professionals in the industry and meet new people.

You where selected as the winner of the Future of Footwear in the Skate shoe category.  Can you tell us about your design?’
“The Rebar” Is high top performance skateboard shoe, I designed with ankle protection in mind. The main inspiration for this shoe is  the way skateboarders make pools and DIY skate spots. First they stack ruble or carve earth to the shape of the desired obstacle, Then they bend and lay down rebar to support the form and poor concrete to hold it all together and provide a flowing surface to skate on. I took that concept and and applied it to my design. The embossed underlay is the support like the rebar. The suede is like the smooth flowing concrete, the uninterrupted surface the skateboard comes in contact with. With no seams to blow out in high abrasion areas and attention to the movement of the foot the “Rebar” is a true performance skateboard shoe.

At the Platform trade show, you where presented with a pullover of your design.  What was it like to see a pullover of your design for the first time?
To see the first sample was the coolest thing ever, the shock still hasn’t worn off! My design sewn together and attached to a sole that I designed for skateboarding. When I was a kid I thought the only way to influence a skateboard shoe was to become a pro skateboarder. but now I have a sample of a skate shoe I design with my name on it. Its a dream come true.

What have you been up to over the last 8 months, since I saw you in Las Vegas for the FoF 2012?
Working on many new projects, skateboarding, and exploring the world around me.

What advice do you have for designers looking to be apart of the Future of Footwear class of 2013?
Do “your” best.

Jared, it was good catching up.  Thank your for taking the time.

Register Here to learn more about Future of Footwear 2013

Future of Footwear 2012 Kids Winner: Sarah S4 Sabino

For the 3rd installment in our 5 week series, we catch up with Sarah Sabino, 2012 Future of Footwear Kids winner.  We talked about her experience at PENSOLE and the family she gained as result.

Did you have any footwear background prior to the Future of Footwear class? (study Industrial Design in college, draw footwear just for fun, school project, internship, etc.)

I have been drawing footwear since I was in High School, but it wasn’t until I got to college where I learned that my passion for sneakers and art could be turned into a career.  I attend Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston where I studied Industrial Design for a year and more recently, switched concentrations to painting. As a sophomore at MassArt two very big things happened that changed my life forever.  I received an internship at Stride Rite Children’s group where my dreams of becoming a footwear designer was put in play as I worked with designers on children’s shoe projects.  This opportunity for me, was very much learning about the industry that I saw myself working in, and every part of the job became more and more what I could see myself doing for a lifetime.  That same summer, Nike and Jordan Brand sponsored a design competition called Future Sole.  I had entered the Jordan brand competition where I could only hope that I would be discovered and receive a dream opportunity to present my design at WHQ.  A few weeks after entering, I found myself 1 of six semi-finalists out of the country and the only girl.  At that very moment of seeing my own design on the website I knew that this dream was really attainable.  Although I didn’t win the competition I learned a very valuable lesson of networking, and the winner of  the competition became one of my best friends and role models Christopher Dixon.  After that Summer in the fall of 2010, I was blessed through a mutual connection to meet D’wayne Edwards who is the creator of Pensole, and coincidentally, the creator of Future Sole.   Knowing who I was when he met me, and seeing the passion I had, D’wayne had invited me to take part in a course in Oregon where I would be able to learn skills from himself and other talented designers at University of Oregon.  I attended the course and fell in love with every part of it.  I met aspiring designers from all around the world, as well as Designers at Nike and Jordan who made me realize that anything is possible.  Pensole became an experience like no other.

Tell us about your experience in the Future of Footwear class

The Future of Footwear class for me was an experience that was not only as fulfilling as my first Pensole experience, but magically even more exciting.  This time around instead of just learning about the concepts of footwear design and working with a group to create projects, we were competing for a spot at the MAGIC footwear showcase where our designs would be chosen as the Future of Footwear.  Each day at Pensole x FOF was something new.  Whether it was learning some skill from a classmate that would help you, or seeing Top designers from Nike, Adidas, Jordan and more walk through the door to give you feedback on your projects, every day was a surprise that kept you on your A-Game for sure. That Summer, the PENSOLE studio became our home as many of us would spend up until 3-4am working on our projects, because as D’wayne says, “You never know who is going to walk through that door” we wanted to make sure we were truly putting in all of our effort.  Although it sounds great to meet top designers and compete for an amazing prize, for myself, this experience was WAY more than that.  It was the summer of 2012 at FOF that I made a true family of sole brothers that are amazing and inspiring.  The thing about Pensole that people don’t realize is that the “un-advertised” reward you gain is a truly amazing network of people who will be part of your life and family forever.  Winning the prize was only half the reward of what i have gained through the FOF class, but the real reward is being able to call amazing, inspiring people my family.

As part of the class, you where selected to attend the Platform trade show in Las Vegas. That had to be crazy.

I am not much of a traveler, prior to Pensole I have never left New England.  So flying into Las Vegas was such an exciting experience.  As we landed, I could feel the anxiety and excited-ness (I just created that word for you) inside of me.  The way the summer had worked was we found out that we were the winners of FOF and then returned to our homes for a month before Las Vegas,  so I had not seen my Sole-brothers and Dwayne for an entire month! I think I was more excited to see them than anything!  We attended the MAGIC Trade show for a week, where each day we presented our projects to over 1,600 footwear companies.  The A-game was brought as the 10 of us became salesmen and in my case a sales woman for our Designs.  The first day at the trade show we were given a pullover sample of our design ( which is referring to the first sample of our designs from the factory).  For myself, it was the first time seeing a design I made into 3d.  It was such an amazing feeling to see myself and my peers shoes and to be able to actually hold them.  As the days panned out more an more people came by the booth to see us present our projects.  I even got the opportunity to present my shoe to the CEO of Sketchers Robert Greenberg who is D’wayne’s very own mentor.  On the final day in the booth a very large crowd began to form around us, lots of cameras and Press began to surround us.  As I looked around at my peers we realized that the moment that they would announce the winners was beginning to happen. I was so nervous  as I heard my name being called to come and receive my award.  I could not believe that I won. I was so proud of my sole brothers because in my eyes everyone was a winner. 

You where selected as the winner of the Future of Footwear in the Kids category.  Can you tell us about your design?

I was assigned a brief to design a shoe for best friends. I began by focusing on children when they first begin to make friends. I looked back to when I was younger and remembered some of the first friendships I had. What was it about those relationships that helped me remember them?  I thought about different ways children interact and spark up new conversations.  Two major friend-making elements stood out to me from my past,  friendship bracelets and Pokemon cards.  What I liked most about these elements was the idea behind building and trading things for and with your friends. Some of the first concepts I had come up with ranged from shoes that had bracelets as fasteners, a secret note hider shoe, shoes that spelled out names on the upper. All of these ideas led to my final design which is a shoe that is completely interchangeable and built by kids.  It is composed of 4 main parts, 3 that build the upper, and an outsole.  The three pieces on the upper are removable and the can be woven together and traded out with other pieces.  The idea behind the shoe is that it will be sold in one color and in order for children to get more colors on their shoes they can customize and trade with other friends. So the more colors on your feet show how many interactions you have made with new friends.

You mentioned being presented with a pullover of your design.  What was it like to see a pullover of your design for the first time?

As a designer your craft is typically what comes out of your brain translated through your hand and onto paper.  Seeing this idea turned into an actual physical model is like giving birth to your design.  We all worked so hard on our projects, and for most of us this was the first time an actual shoe we had designed was created in a factory.  It feels like your holding your dreams in your hands; there’s no other way to describe it. Because my final design had an interchangeable upper, D’wayne handed me a shoebox filled with 30 pieces and 4 outsoles and smiled as he said “Get ready to get to work” .  I couldn’t wait to start putting together my model. I still can’t believe its real.

What have you been up to over the last 8 months, since I saw you in Las Vegas for the FoF 2012?

I’ve been working mostly on graduating college so that I can become a designer in the industry.  I have been painting a lot and working on my portfolio.  I have also been trying to give back to the community by working with an organization called Sneakers for Success.  It is a program set up similarly to Pensole where we teach kids about footwear, but we focus on more than design. We use the footwear industry as a gateway to get youth to think and learn about different types of jobs in the industry, anywhere from marketing to color trends we try to teach Kids that they can get a career in anything they are interested in.  Its a great feeling to give back,  Currently we are working with a younger group from 7 -14 years old on a project called “Sole Searching”.  The project is asking kids to create any type of creative project whether its a poem, picture, or design, of something that they are interested in the footwear industry.  In the summer we will have a showcase that will double as my Senior Show as I will display my artwork alongside my students projects. Its a pretty great opportunity and it has taught me the importance of classes such as PENSOLE.  I hope to truly make a difference in the world.  After graduation, I plan to continue my work with S4S and get a job in the industry!

What advice do you have for designers looking to be apart of the Future of Footwear class of 2013?

My advice in terms of design is to be as open minded as possible.  Designing footwear doesn’t mean that you have to make something you would see on the shelves at Footlocker.  Designing footwear means your solving a problem that a person has during a specific activity, and you just so happened to be creating something that will help their feet. Try to think of things that haven’t been done before, and be your own brand, don’t design the Nike or Reebok way, design the YOU way!  Don’t be scared of your imagination it will take you very far in this competition.  Most importantly, have FUN!! it shows the most if you truly loved your project, chances are, others will too!

Sarah, Thanks for taking the time. 

Register Here to learn more about Future of Footwear 2013

Future of Footwear 2012 Lifestyle Winner: Jonning Chng

This week we have part 2 of our 5 weeks series, catching up with the 2012 Future of Footwear winners.  By now many of you are hard at work on your PENSOLE: 2013 Future of Footwear submissions, but you will not want to miss as we catch up with Jonning Chng.  Jonning’s Sneaker Freaker design earned him Future of Footwear in the Lifestyle category.

Did you have any background in footwear prior to the Future of Footwear class?
I have a background in Industrial design, and am a sucker for sneakers.  By marrying the 2 things I love to do, I developed a passion in footwear design.  Prior to FoF class, I had been working closely with a local sneaker store designing collaborative SMU releases.

What was the Future of Footwear class like?
My experience in the FoF class was great! The level of creativity in the class was just amazing, and to be able to interact with like-minded people that share similar passion enhances the whole learning experience.  The main take away for me was the friends I’ve made in the short time with we’ve spent as a class.

As part of the class, you where selected to attend the Platform trade show in Las Vegas, what was that like?
It was definitely an eye opener as it was also the first time for me to be in Vegas.  At the trade show we showcased our projects to the public.  It was a great platform to receive feedback from professionals and to gauge ourselves against the industry standards.

You where selected as the winner of the Future of Footwear in the Lifestyle category.  Can you tell us about your design?
I was designing a spring/summer lifestyle shoe for Sneaker Freaker, which is to be inspired by the adidas ZX running range of products.  One of the first things I did was get in touch with Woody, the founder of Sneaker Freaker.  His all time favourite ZX model was the ZX8000 that was a 90s classic.  The fact that Woody liked everything about the original design was quite a challenge for me – I didn’t want to be seen as the one to spoil such a classic design.  So I decided that I want to retain the classic running shoe aesthetics, while exploring into using high performance and ‘futuristic’ materials and finishing.

I drew aesthetic hints inspired from iconic architectural structures in Melbourne, Australia (where Sneaker Freaker is based at). The design tells a story of high breathability with mesh webbing on the vamp and quarter panels – suitable for those warm summer days.  Overlaying the mesh is Bone White 3M reflective leather.  The reflective treatment on the upper gives the shoe a ‘surprising’ glow when light shines on them – transforming a classic looking shoe into a head turner.  Under laying the quarter mesh is a midfoot lock down system that is inspired by the Webb Bridge structure.  The glossy white TPU heel counter is a throw back to the original design and seeks design styling from the Plymouth Roadrunner 1972 – Woody’s favorite car.  The toe cap and heel panel flows continuously overlaying the midsole, revealing the centre die-cut detail.  The die-cut midsole reduces material used and allows you to see-thru from the sides, highlighting the essence of airflow and light weightiness.  ‘Icy’ translucent treatment on the outsole gives the shoe a ‘cool’ vibe.  Finally subtle hits of grenadine red accents on the shoe pays tribute to the Sneaker Freaker brand.  I call this shoe CHEECH, the name of Woody’s pet beagle – which is the main inspiration of my color story.

At the Platform trade show, you where presented with a pullover of your design.  What was it like to see a pullover of your design for the first time?
Awesome!  The feeling of seeing, touching, smelling 4 weeks of hard work  in your hands is indescribable.  Though I have had samples made before, this time it felt different.  This time, every detail on the shoe are designed by me.

What have you been up to over the last 8 months, since I saw you in Las Vegas for the FoF 2012?
I’m now designing casual lifestyle shoes for a local company.


What advice do you have for designers looking to be apart of the Future of Footwear class of 2013?
Go for it! And while you’re at it, keep an open mind – be receptive to feedback.  And most importantly enjoy the experience!

Jonning, Thanks for taking the time. 

Register Here to learn more about Future of Footwear 2013

A conversation with D’Wayne Edwards Founder of PENSOLE Footwear Design Acadamy

 I recently had the chance to catch up with D’Wayne Edwards, the Founder of PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy, and former Design Director at Brand Jordan.  We talked about about his design background, PENSOLE, and the new Prep School class.

Hello D’Wayne, where did your love for design, specifically footwear, originate?

DE: It started back in 1981 when I was 11. That is when I drew my first shoe. It was a football cleat. I was a big Pittsburgh Steelers/Franco Harris fan, so I would draw him in action poses. From that moment on, I was drawing sneakers throughout high school.

What really made me fall in love was one day I was looking in the LA Times for a job,(No internet back then), and I saw an ad for a Reebok design competition. I entered it and won. I guess they were not expecting a 17-year old kid to come in and collect the prize, which was a job at Reebok. I was too young to work for them so they gave me a couple hundred bucks and told me to come back to see them after I finished college. I was upset that I didn’t get the job, but I did buy a pair of new Air Jordan 2’s with my Reebok prize money.

Towards the end of my high school year, I was doing my usual, sitting in my drafting class, designing my own version of Air Jordan’s. Little did I know, I would actually get the opportunity to design them and get paid for it one day… What’s even crazier is the last shoe in class was the Air Jordan 2(courtesy of Reebok) and 12 years later one of my first assignments in JORDAN was to “redesign” the Air Jordan 2(Nu’ Retro 2). To this day, I still can’t believe it.

You have a pretty interesting tale of determination; tell us about how you broke into the footwear industry.

DE: After winning the Reebok competition, that gave me the confidence to believe that I could do this for a living. I then started looking for colleges to study footwear design, but none existed. So, I went to my high school counselor for help and she told me “give up on that dream of being a footwear designer because no black kid from Inglewood would ever do something like. Your best bet is to continue working at McDonald’s or join the military.” As a teenager, that devastated me. She was my “Guidance” counselor, however, she became one of my biggest sources of motivation. I had several things working against me. One, I am the youngest of 6 and there was no money to send me to college, let alone design school. Two, I started my college search late so I couldn’t get into any schools and I didn’t even know what a portfolio was.

I soon gave up on my dream of being a footwear designer and decided to go to community college at night studying Business while working at McDonald’s in the day. One day, a friend convinced me to quit Mickey D’s and work at his aunts Temp agency as a file clerk. Two weeks into the agency, I was assigned a file clerk position at one of the hottest footwear companies at that time, LA Gear. I know everyone reading this probably never heard of LA Gear, but trust me they were BIG in the 90’s.

Here I am, a few months out of high school and I am working at a footwear company. Yes, I am filing papers, but I am at a FOOTWEAR company and this close to my dream. One day the company announced that they wanted ideas from employees on ways to make the company better. They put wooden suggestion boxes in every department. This was 1988 and still no internet. For the next 6 months, my suggestions came everyday in the form of a new LA Gear shoe design, that I put in the box until the owner of the company Robert Greenberg (Chairman of Skechers, today) took notice. Then one day over the intercom I heard D’Wayne Edwards come to Robert’s office. Nervous and trying to figure out what I did wrong, I went to his office.  Sitting on his desk was all 180 of my designs. We talked for a few minutes and then he offered me an entry-level footwear design position. One month after my 19th birthday I was a professional footwear designer, making me the youngest and one of the first African American professional footwear designers in the industry.

Once in the industry you have had the opportunity to work at some great places with some incredible designers.  Tell us a little bit about your climb to the top as Design Director at Brand Jordan?

DE: From day one, I made 3 promises to myself:

#1: Make my family proud by having the career my two of my older brothers(Michael and Ronnie, who were better artists than I would ever be and who taught me how to draw) did not get a chance to have because their lives were cut short at an early age. Update: I am still working on this.

#2: Prove to Robert he did not make a mistake by taking a chance on a young black kid from Inglewood. Update: And, after all these years I still feel the same way and we still keep in contact with each other.

#3: Provide opportunities to other aspiring designers like Robert did for me.  Start a school that teaches footwear design because there are more kids out there like me. Update: I dedicated many years of my career helping others and it took me 21 years but the school is open now.  

My journey started with LA Gear in 1989. In addition to the three points I listed above, the other thing I did from day one was be a sponge. My Mother once told me “a closed mouth does not get fed” and I live by those same words to this day. Back then, it was the key to my success. I was only 19 years old working with designers that had knowledge that I needed. I did more “listening than talking”. All that listening allowed me to work my way up to Sr. Designer within four years.

I left LA Gear and moved to Detroit to work for a small footwear company called MVP Footwear. They offered me more money. That was the ONE and only time I made a move for money and it was a mistake. Professionally it was a mistake because you should never let money guide you but at the same time it was a valuable lesson for me. For all of you aspiring and established Designers out there, don’t make a move for money. Make moves that will make you a better Designer, which will increase your value.

The next stop on my journey was back to LA to work with Robert Greenberg again, but this time at his new company called Skechers, which just signed a licensing deal to produce footwear for Street fashion pioneers Cross Colours and Karl Kani. Most of you reading this are too young to know those brands, but before Sean John, Rockawear and LRG these guys started what you know today as streetwear. I was Head Designer responsible for creating what you know today as urban or street footwear. One of the highlights for me while working on these brands was being the first designer to design Designer footwear (Kani) ever to be worn in the NBA when Skechers signed Derek Fisher to his first NBA endorsement contract in 1993. The Cross Colours and Kani licensing agreement ended and in 1998 Robert gave me my own brand called SITY. I replaced the “C” with an “S” for style because during my travels around the world I discovered that footwear had different styles in every city I visited. SITY’s retail debut was a success but it was short lived and was dissolved within 2 years. I received an amazing honor by SBG (Sporting Goods Business) when they ranked SITY, the second freshest (yes, they used the word fresh back in the day) brand to look out for behind JORDAN Brand.

In April of 2000 I accepted a position at Nike.  I began working for the company whose shoes I designed while sitting in drafting class in high school. I spent the first year in ACG and the next ten years in JORDAN.

Over the course of my 22-year career, I have worked with so many great Designers. I don’t want to single out 1 or 2 because I have learned different things from all of them. To this day, I try to be better than I was yesterday and I do this by being open to learn from everyone and everything around me.

Here is one of my favorite quotes: “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” -Bruce Lee

 What made you decide to transition into education?

DE: Two things. One, I had a great career and I achieved more than I dreamed of as a Designer. As the years went by, I was more excited to see an aspiring designer that I mentored, shoes running up and down NBA floors or winning awards than my own. Second, I also always had a goal to leave this industry better than when I entered it. I figured I could do that by becoming a full-time Farmer….

Yes, a Farmer. Let me explain. One of the Farmers duties is to plants Seeds and I was planted back in 1989. Just like the Seeds you plant in the ground, I grew up to be blessed with a successful career, not for the riches or the fame but to plant more Seeds.

I am not sure how many Seeds I have planted during my career but I know they are out there and I know they have also planted their own Seeds combined with my goals for PENSOLE will make this industry better.   Be a Farmer, my friend…

 Almost 2 years ago you started PENSOLE; can you tell us about the program?

DE: PENSOLE is the third promise I made to myself on the first day of my professional career 23 years ago this month.

Instead of graduating from college after 4 years, I learned on the job and became a Senior Designer after 4 years. I “learned by doing”. Now, I say that not to say don’t go to college because if I could have afforded to go I would have gone. I say that because I learned the value of the teaching philosophy “learn by doing” which is why I designed PENSOLE to educate our students this way.

At PENSOLE we teach the fundamentals of working with your hands because during my time as a Footwear Design Director at JORDAN, I would see over 200 portfolio’s a year, full of pretty renderings, and adequate designs. I feel computers are making today’s students lazy and reducing the opportunity for them to actually think about what they are designing. Our goal is to teach you to think by designing in black and white using a N0.2 pencil until your design looks good enough to “deserve” color and a computer rendering. We just want you to think first.

I have assembled the most sought after faculty in footwear. Comprised of both young professional designers and established footwear design leaders from the Industry with over 100 years combined experience. I am proud to say that in less than two years we have over 20 former PENSOLE students that have started their professional careers at some of the industries top footwear brands; Nike, adidas, Under Armor, North Face, Wolverine, New Balance and JORDAN to name a few.

We have an exciting year planned beginning with moving into our new 4700 square foot building at the end of the month, that will eventually have everything you need to create a shoe from a pencil drawing to a handmade sample. We will have a wide range of programs from Saturday school for local Oregon students, night school for professional development, graduate programs and a full summer schedule. We are in the process of designing the new web-site which will feature a newsletter called SOLE FOOD that will feed you throughout the year on what’s going on at PENSOLE.

Email to sign-up for the SOLE FOOD newsletter if you are interested in learning more about PENSOLE.

In March you will be launching a new class at PENSOLE called “Prep School”.  What is this class going to be about?

DE: PENSOLE Preparation School is a hands on 3-week program designed for graduate students to prepare for a professional career in the footwear industry.

Prep School classes will range from Personal Branding, Preparing for Interviews, Business of Design, Patternmaking, How to Create Collections, Bio-mechanics; and much more.

At PENSOLE Prep School, you will experience our rigorous “learn by doing” curriculum that will be customized to focus on specific areas of development. During each of these 3-week classes, you will be challenged to define who you are and who you want to be.

The first Prep School class is called: “Next Steps”. This class will feature several special guests from the Footwear Industry ranging from Design Directors, Design Managers, Recruiters, Hiring Managers and Staffing Agencies. These individuals are from top footwear brands and companies in the industry and they will share their knowledge in preparation for the “Next Step.”

 After these 3 weeks you will have a different outlook on design, how you present yourself, your work and how to work in a team environment. PENSOLE Prep School will also be the first graduating class taught at the new PENSOLE building in Portland, OR.

We are giving away a MESH01 scholarship for this class and other special prizes for students that register.

Registration ends on February 22 and class begins on March 12-31st.

How can interested designers find more information and register for this class?

DE: You don’t have to go far. Click on the banner on the home page and you can register today. We have some exclusive Mesh01|PENSOLE opportunities for everyone who registers for the class. (or click here)

Before we head out, any words of wisdom for aspiring designers?

DE: Stay hungry and treat your first design and all those that follow, like it is your last. Don’t take short cuts. As a Designer, you have a gift and that gift will always give back to you, what you give to it.

Thanks, D’Wayne, for taking the time to talk with us. 

Designers can register for PENSOLE’s Prep School class HERE


Day 11: Halfway Through PENSOLE

Tuesday June 7, 2011 by Eric Wada

We are a little past the halfway point in the class, and today we re-capped what we learned about in the class so far. On the first day, D’Wayne made a list of the topics we wanted to cover in the class, and we have already gone over most of the topics. The main things we covered were how to properly draw sneakers, how shoes are made, and the corporate world of footwear design.

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