Stepping out of line: A systems-thinking, materials-centric approach to designing for sneaker circularity
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Designing for sneaker circularity presents an opportunity to recover material value within an industry that produces 20+ billion pairs of shoes each year. However, the barriers to a circular sneaker economy are reflected in the complexity of sneaker design, as well as the broader system elements dictating the linear model through which shoes have traditionally been produced and consumed. Sneaker circularity can only be realized by addressing the industrial, financial, and social contexts in which a product economy operates. In light of this complexity, the goals of this thesis are twofold. The first is to construct a systematic understanding of the broad, product-oriented challenges facing the development of a circular sneaker economy. Direct insights from those within the footwear industry The second is to build upon this understanding in order to to inform a new ethos for designing sneakers for materials circularity. This holistic approach will be demonstrated through concept and practice through the material lens of a mono-polyethylene sneaker. Novel textile-based techniques oriented towards circular material design and recovery will be explored. This thesis argues that advancing towards a circular sneaker economy will first require taking one step back: to recognize the larger systems picture surrounding the vision of sneaker circularity, as well as to ground their efforts in materials, the foundational currency of any circular product economy.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology