A Deeper Look into Development
The Design Approach
Moving forward, I decided to focus on changing consumer behavior. This can be done by creating a repair culture where users are encouraged to fix and care for their belongings.
Keeping our possessions for an extra nine months can reduce the related carbon, water, and waste footprint by 20 – 30%.
Newsflash: Footwear pollutes the planet
Most solvent-based adhesives contain VOCs which are toxins to those working in the factories and seem into the soil when they reach the landfill.
Parts that are not sewn together are for the most part fused together, making it impossible to separate parts to replace.
Many shoes have tens of parts increasing the steps and energy needed for manufacturing.
With the problems found, I started exploring these issues in mind. Trying new methods for construction, manufacturing, features, and material use.
Before diving in I created a persona and character board to gear the shoes towards.
For the Young Adventurer
The project will be geared towards a younger backcountry lover who wears a lot of heavy-duty and earthy textiles. He is also the DIYer who tries to preserve his belongings. He is not skilled when it comes to soft goods.
The focus was on how to make the shoes come apart as easily as possible and back together in a way that was strong against the elements for hiking. Concepts that stood out were ones that prioritized simple methods of hooking on to each other such as those inspired by snaps and outlets. The midsole acted at the "bone" of the construction where everything was attached to it.
Low budget test builds
Choosing a few concepts to prototype, I was going through the motions of building and repairing to experience what a user would experience. I found that these patterns tested were not as strong as thought and the way they were sewn to the midsole was too time-consuming, tedious, and difficult for an average person to do.
Bringing it all together
After extensively ideating on how the shoes would go together, I landed on the upper being held together by buttons. The buttons offered a simple and secure way to put on and take off the vamp. After some tests, it was clear that there needed to be a button-like system that was stronger such as with inserts.
Testing & Refinements
I was convinced of the concept of buttons. It was strong, easy to work with and disassemble. After a few tests, it was noted that the buttons did not hold up as long as expected. After taking it on and off once, the thread had stretched.
Taking inspiration from the buttons, I moved toward inserts. The inserts allowed for extra strength and easy usability. After the test, it proved its ability to stay in place but I still had to take stretching, aging, and ease of removal into consideration.
Pins add much-needed strength to the lace holes
Yak wool Upper
Yak wool is warm, breathable, antibacterial, strong, and easily recycled
Shoe easily comes apart for replacement parts and repairs
Simple pattern allows for quick and efficient production
Putting it together
Place inserts in holes and place on the upper and line up with inserts
Put on the outsole, lining up with inserts
Screw in to lock together
Prolonging the life
Some things users can do to prolong the life of their shoes. The single-piece upper makes it easy to even patch up holes under a sewing machine or by hand.
Patch upper under sewing machine or by hand
Machine washing fabrics separately
Replacing worn parts and return the old ones to get recycled to get made into new parts