ALICE, The Growing Shoe that is rethinking Sustainable Fashion

ALICE, The Growing Shoe that is rethinking Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable Fashion, sustainable shoe

Every year 21 Billion pairs of shoes are produced worldwide. 95% of them end up in landfills around the world. The massive production of leather shoes is also linked with high CO2 emissions, huge water usage and the severe pouring of toxic waste. But high-fashion shoe designer Kristel Peters is determined to create a solution.

Enter Alice, a sustainable fashion zero-waste shoe

Alice is a modular shoe that consists of 3 sections that form the base structure. Each section is 3D printed and made out of one same material. Reducing materials and eliminating any non-recyclable parts (like glue) makes the shoe easy to recycle, but also easy to fix. If one part breaks, you only have to ask for a re-print and the shoe is good as new.

The upper, or decorative, part of the shoe is also replaceable and uses zero waste materials. The result is a shoe that is adaptable to the needs of each moment. An exploration of how sustainable fashion can be both adaptable and luxurious.

Sustainable Fashion, sustainable shoe
Photo Credit: Caroline Vincart

Growing Materials, the future of Sustainable Shoe Fashion

In order to create an upper part for the shoe that was not only attractive but durable and, most importantly, zero waste, Kristel Peters’ research led her to Mycelium. Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus that consists of branching, thread-looking hyphae. Think of the little hairs that grow on mold.

Mycelium feeds on organic waste, such as sawdust. When it does, the organic waste is broken down and adhered to the fungus, which in turn converts it into a strong natural polymer that can be molded into different shapes. The result is a strong, durable, elastic and water repellent material that is also organic and harmless to nature after use.

But growing materials, is that even possible? As Kristel Peters mentions, “We are breeding animals for their meat but also for their skins, so growing materials is somehow not new for human kind, we have always been doing it. But what if we would bio fabricate our uppers out of Mycelium? How would that work? Can I, as designer lead this process and shape it into shoes? And can it be even as desirable as leather shoes?’

infographic circular economy

Circular Economy. A service and not a product.

The premises of the project Alice: Rethinking High Fashion Shoes are clear. First of all the project revolves around the concept of a Circular Economy. The circular economy concept consists of producing no waste and pollution by design and intention. In circular economies, the materials used for the construction of a product have two outcomes. Either they become organic waste without the use of energy, or they can be easily regenerated or recovered. In both cases the cycle of products steps out of the linear and more traditional methods, and enters a cycle that can easily regenerate and restore itself causing no harm to the biosphere.

The second premise of the project revolves around the idea of the shoe as a service, instead of a product. Stemming out from the idea of the circular economy, the shoe is custom created to the specifications and the needs of each client. 3D printed parts are made based on real feet models and are therefore unique. Same goes for the decorative upper parts, which are made on-demand and based on the various needs that the customers may have.

Why Sustainable Fashion is the way

As trendsetters, the high-fashion industry must constantly search for new and upcoming solutions for everyday problems. Up to now, their focus has mainly been on creativity, where they excel, but have ignored sustainable fashion solutions without even contemplating the possibilities that organic materials like Mycelium could offer.

As an expert in the industry the mission of Kristel Peter’s is clear,“I want to trigger the fashion world to become more sustainable. Alice is a modular shoe and a sustainable answer for disposal issue.” – she mentions.

Sustainable Fashion, sustainable shoe

About Kristel Peters

A professional of the shoe fashion industry, Kristel Peters has been dedicated to this world for the last 15 years. Her experience has led her to work with renowned brands such as Dries Van Noten and Bottega Veneta.

Kristel Peters is currently exhibiting her work and research with Alice at the Fungal Futures exhibit in the Universiteitsmuseum Utrecht

To learn more about the project, head on to their Official website

All images in this article are courtesy of Cojak, Kristel Peters and Caroline Vincart.

Founder of Offcyclers + Overall Sustainable Design geek. When Diego isn't scouting for the most incredible Sustainable Design & Art, he is probably trotting the globe, photographing or filming any story he thinks needs to be told.

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