DMU student puts best foot forward to win multiple fashion awards

Stepping up to the challenge has earned De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) student Sam Lilley prestigious prizes at the Fashanne awards, celebrating the next generation of talent.

Sam (middle) receiving his awards at Fashanne

Open to final-year fashion and textiles students from universities across the Midlands, the annual event is hosted by BBC East Midlands Today news anchor Anne Davies and was held last week inside the vaulted St Mary’s Church, Nottingham’s largest medieval building.

Footwear Design student Sam won the Footwear and Accessory Design Award, earning him a cash prize, as well as an internship and mentoring with Pentland Brands, the award sponsor and name behind leading sports and lifestyle labels such as Speedo, Berghaus and Ellesse.

He also scooped the overall Daniel Hanson Award for Excellence, beating all other 60 finalists across eight different categories.

“I’m so happy with these awards. After the challenges of studying through the pandemic, it’s nice to have my hard work recognised and feel like it’s paying off,” said 22-year-old Sam from Sheffield.

Inspired by the peppered moth, Sam's design scooped two awards

Sam’s award-winning unisex footwear was a result of combining three concepts - morphing, orienteering and luxury - to create a hybrid design.

He said: “We were set the brief as part of our studies and we had to pick three from a long list of obscure subjects. It was a really hard project at first, but great for getting us to think outside the box and create something no one has seen before.

“I took inspiration from orienteering footwear and the luxury market, while exploring the metamorphosis and evolution of the peppered moth, which changed in colour as a result of air pollution during the Industrial Revolution.”

Simple and luxurious, Sam’s design features leather uppers, proportions inspired by trail shoes, a removable sock to make it trans-seasonal, silver speed-lacing toggles and heavy lugs on the sole.


Sam was in good company with coursemate Yinglin Xu named the runner-up in the Footwear and Accessory Design category. DMU Contour Fashion student Chloe Grant and Fashion Design student Anna Breward were also named runners-up in the Commercial Design and Sustainability categories respectively.

Next month, Sam has a top-secret design nominated for the annual Worshipful Company of Cordwainers awards, and he’s also looking forward to showcasing his latest project at the DMU Degree Show.

“My final major project is definitely the wackiest concept I’ve ever done. I’ve made three prototypes – a trainer, a trail shoe and a boot – inspired by the work of artist Antwan Horfee,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to our Degree Show. Because of the pandemic, it’s not been the university experience most of us expected but being fully back on campus this year has been really nice, especially being around people and having a laugh.”

A sneak peek of Sam's latest collection

Initially, Sam wanted to study fashion or illustration, until he came across Footwear Design and realised he could pursue his passion for trainers.

He said: “When I came to an Open Day at DMU, it was straight up my alley.

“The Vijay Patel Building was impressive and our dedicated space felt like a proper footwear studio. I walked in and there were lots of trainers on display, plus all of the tutors had previously worked in the footwear industry so they really knew what they were talking about.

“One of the main selling points for me was that so many graduates from the course went on to work for big brands like Adidas and Givenchy. Having so many big opportunities right in front of you has helped to keep me motivated and excited about my future in the industry.”

Posted on Monday 16th May 2022

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