This circular sneaker is designed for disassembly

In a collaboration between textile company European Spinning Group (ESG) and design studios CREAX and Knitwear Lab, a circular sneaker called Anna was created, made from recycled natural materials and designed for disassembly.

The textile and fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Each year, countless tonnes of denim are produced worldwide, but only a fraction is recycled and reused. To counter this development, ESG developed yarns made from recycled jeans.

Through the 5×5 project by Designregio Kortrijk, which matches 5 companies to work with a senior and a junior designer to create a new product or service, ESG, CREAX and Knitwear Lab were partnered up. The goal of the project was to design a product made from the recycled denim yarn, “fitted into a hip and marketable product”.

CREAX researched over 50 applications of the yarn, including baby clothing, thermal underwear, scarfs, and socks, but because they wanted their first product to be an eye-catcher, they opted for designing a shoe.

Shoes are notoriously difficult to disassemble, because they consist of various materials that are often glued together. Therefore, shoes are difficult to recycle. With this in mind, the designers created Anna, a sneaker that is designed to be taken apart into its different components.

The yarn limits the amount of virgin materials needed for the end product, reducing the ecological footprint. The upper part of the sneaker is made from digitally knitted fabric, combining the recycled denim yarn with Lenzing Lyocell and Lenzing Viscose Color fibres, made from cellulose.

The sole of the prototype is made from a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU 92A-1) using 3D printing. This material has a similar density to ordinary soles. Once the shoes are in production, the aim is to use traditional materials like latex or EVA.

Instead of using glue, the limited number of parts, including the sole, are stitched together and can be separated easily. A zipper on the back of the shoe helps it fit.

According to the designers, “ANNA is a low impact product: using recycled material and eliminating the dyeing process results in huge water and CO2 savings compared to the use of standard virgin cotton; selecting a local circular supply chain reduces the global transportation footprint; and it is made from natural biodegradable fibres, avoiding plastic waste pollution. And most importantly: it looks fashionable, doesn’t it?”

Earlier, CREAX designed a system to clean up plastic from the ocean.

Photos: CREAX / ESG