Singapore's first footwear design, prototyping and education centre - and what is also claimed to be the first of its kind in South East Asia - opened yesterday (16 July).

The Bronx Creative & Design Centre will provide local designers, manufacturers and brand-owners with services including prototyping, sample-making and even small-run manufacturing.

"A footwear service centre in Singapore gives designers direct oversight of the production process so as to ensure that their designs are properly interpreted as good quality prototypes before they go into production," explained Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Teo Ser Luck.

"This centre, therefore, plugs an industry gap and is an important initiative in our fashion industry's developmental blueprint; supporting local designers and brand-owners with R&D and knowledge management services to shorten time-to-market."

Working with Raffles Education Corporation, the Bronx centre will also offer a comprehensive footwear design curriculum for designers and professionals who want to upgrade their skills. Courses will cover pattern-making, prototyping and assembly techniques.

The facility also gives Singapore-based fashion companies direct access to local training.