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› Best City for Shoe & Sneaker Design Jobs
  • Published on April 3, 2017

Based upon the number of companies hiring sneaker and shoe designers, the best city for shoe design jobs is Boston. The diversity of companies filling shoe designer jobs in and around Boston is second to none. While most shoe companies have moved their manufacturing from the mills of New England to Asia, the shoe design positions have remained and even grown in the Boston area. The importance of Boston as the shoe design capital of the world was further cemented this week as yet another company announced they are opening a shoe design center in Boston. Asics is calling their new shoe design center in Boston a product creation lab. While the shoe designer jobs brought to Boston by Asics may be new, the company already has a presence in the city. Asics owns FitnessKeeper, the makers of the mobile app Runkeeper. Product management and digital marketing roles are also expected to be hired in the new offices being opened by Asics.

Apparel and Shoe Design Skills In-Demand

While some apparel and shoe design roles start their process with manual tools, they also incorporate many digital apps in the design process. This provides more high-tech shoe and apparel jobs for the Boston and Massachusetts economy. Most apparel and shoe designers learn Illustrator and also take photoshop classes to perfect their digital design skills. They need to gain specialized Illustrator skills for fashion design, and some also go-on to learn 3D applications and some CAD tools based upon the specific role and company.

Expanding Shoe and Sneaker Design Jobs in Boston

The shoe design center being opened by Asics in Boston will initially bring 50 jobs to the region, with half of these apparel and sneaker design jobs being transferred from other locations, and the other half being hired locally. Asics management indicates that the Boston shoe design center could grow well beyond its initial size. The initial office will be located near Boston’s South Station.

Asics joins a number of companies looking to tap into the pool of talented shoe designers in Boston. Many of these firms have recently moved into new or expanded offices in or around the city. Reebok was started in Massachusetts and retains its headquarters along with its apparel and shoe design staff in suburban Boston. Reebok is planning a move to a new headquarters downtown, just a short walk over a bridge from new Asics offices. A walk up the Rose Kennedy Greenway in the other direction leads to the new headquarters of sneaker company Converse, a division of Nike. While a quick trip on the T to the Brighton section of Boston takes you to the New Balance headquarters building which opened last year. Housing their apparel and shoe designers, and adjacent practice facility for the Boston Bruins. New Balance is one of the few companies still making shoes in the USA, with a factory in the Boston suburb of Lawrence, Massachusetts. You can find Made in USA sneakers on the New Balance website or in the store right at the factory itself.

At about the same time that New Balance was moving into their offices in Boston, Wolverine Worldwide moved their area shoe designers into a new building in the Boston suburb of Waltham. Designers creating shoes for the brands of Keds, Saucony, Top Sider and other brands all work in their modern, new building in suburban Boston. Within a two minute drive of where the latest Keds and Saucony designs are being conceived is the new North American headquarters of shoe company Clarks. The maker of a variety of shoes for men, women, and children converted one of Polaroid’s old buildings into their new offices. While many mills may no longer being producing shoes, the shoe design industry is alive and well in Boston.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.