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National Winner

Layer

Layer is a unique and sustainable casual shoe alternative to currently selling shoe designs. This concept focuses on the repairability, personalisation and modularity of footwear.

  • Layer - Final Functional Prototype

  • Layer - A cheeky little overview of the project. Try to keep up...

    Layer - A cheeky little overview of the project. Try to keep up...

  • Layer - Understanding The Fastening Lace

  • Layer - Final CAD Renders & Material Selections

  • Layer - Sketch Exploration & Concept Generation

  • Layer - Early Prototyping and Final Functional Prototype

What it does

Layer is a concept focused on customisation and sustainability of shoes. Designed using biodegradable and recycled materials, individual parts can be bought, allowing the user to repair and personalise their shoes helping reduce the waste generated by footwear


Your inspiration

Recently, "Fast Fashion” trends have resulted in shoes becoming seasonal, cheap and disposable products. However, at what cost to our planet and our society? Unfortunately, it is a fact that it is incredibly difficult to recycle footwear. Each year, roughly 22.5 billion pairs of shoes are made and 300 million pairs are discarded to landfill because they cannot be recycled. Most casual footwear is designed to be bonded and glued together in manufacture but are not designed to be repaired. Layer was designed as a possible solution to reduce footwear waste. It is a statement to the industry that sustainable footwear is a viable alternative.


How it works

Based on the idea that footwear waste can be eliminated from landfills around the world, Layer allows users to repair and customise their shoes to keep up with trends. By creating products from biodegradable plastics and recycled polyester fabrics this decreases the overall impact of the product. Initially, the product will be purchased by the customer and arrive fully assembled. Comprising of four key components: The Uppers, Soles, Insoles and a Fastening Lace, the shoe is totally repairable. In time, as parts wear, tear and date, the user can replace individual parts with ease by ordering new ones online. A lacing system is used to sew the uppers to the shoe soles. Beginning at a start point, the user threads the lace through both parts until the reaching the endpoint. Both ends of the lace utilise a similar design to that of a peg button used on duffle jackets or bags. These endpoints fasten the parts together, preventing the lace from coming undone.


Design process

This project required an in-depth understanding of the current issues of footwear recycling, product manufacture and it's end of life. Initial research began with several interviews with industry experts in textile recycling and multiple site visits were arranged to view textile recycling companies. Over the course of 2 months of research, process studies and focus groups it was discovered that most footwear waste is generated because shoes cannot be easily separated back to individual materials. With this key insight, ideation and concept generation began. The importance of developing ideas in tandem with verifying them in a physical form was essential. Over 43 physical working models were explored to design a viable attachment mechanism. A lacing method was chosen. Initial prototypes were generated using EVA foam and cardboard reinforcing. These low fidelity prototypes were essential in understanding basic footwear principles. After analyzing and improving the design, a high fidelity functional prototype was created by utilizing various design techniques including CAD, 3D printing, molding and casting. Polyurethane was used to create flexible soles, while all other materials are the intended final materials and sourced from suppliers specializing in recycled polyester fabrics.


How it is different

Currently, no alternative products exist to tackle to issue of footwear waste. This leaves consumers with few desirable, fashionable or practical alternatives. Layer is a step in the right direction in terms of validating modular and sustainable footwear. In comparison to the competition, Layer utilizes biodegradable plastics for the shoe soles and recycled post-consumer waste plastics to create the fabric uppers. All parts of the shoe can be easily repaired or replaced by the user as no glues are used in bonding major components in place. Needless to say, this is not a possibility with the current options on the market. Layer is a radical rethinking of the casual shoe market. In a seasonal “fast fashion” world where mass footwear and clothing waste is generated due to a minor cosmetic issue, a single component wear down or simply an out of style product, Layer aims to help reduce footwear waste by providing a repairable and customisable shoe solution


Future plans

While extensive research, user testing and focus groups have been carried out to date, Layer will need further development before it can be deemed market ready. In the coming months, plans have been made to further develop the product in areas such as usability, ease of assembly, durability and offering further styling options. Ideally, I will seek help from those with greater knowledge of soft goods and casual footwear to improve the product. Plans have been made to carry out further engineering tests to ensure the chosen materials are suitable. Final focus groups will be carried out to ensure the product meets customer expectations


Awards

To date, Layer has received critical praise and has been featured on the Arts Thread Website which is dedicated to showcasing new and upcoming design talent.


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