The Disassemblable Shoe

Making a positive difference with her design, that is what drives Linda Egtved Olesen. With her sustainable footwear – in assembly kits – she has taken a stand against the planet’s enormous consumption/waste of resources when it comes to footwear.

Almost 23 billion pairs, i.e. 64,000,000,000 individual shoes. That is how many individual shoes are produced every year around the globe – sandals, dance shoes, sneakers and boots, made of a wide variety of materials. In addition, some 300 million pairs of shoes are discarded. But nowhere in the world is there a system for what to do with the worn out shoes. That provoked Linda Egtved Olesen, a recent graduate in Textile Design from Design School Kolding, and inspired her to offer a sustainable shoe design for the 21st century: the shoe assembly kit.

In search of the green choice
“I think it started when I was looking for a shoe that I could be sure was produced sustainably. All I could find was vegan shoes, i.e. shoes that do not contain leather, for example. And they do not necessarily have a particularly sustainable profile, ”says Linda, a native of Kolding, who, prior to her Master's degree, was trained as a footwear designer at the London College of Fashion.

“Conversely, leather or plastic are not necessarily the worst choice for a shoe. But considering what happens when the shoe is discarded, it is crucial that the various parts of the shoe can be separated from each other before they are going to be reused – or whether they have been glued together so thoroughly that that is impossible. Only when the shoe can be disassembled can we be certain that the individual parts can be recycled in some way or other.”

Changeable, mood-sensitive uppers
This insight inspired Linda to enter into collaboration with ECCO Sko on a prototype of a shoe that comes in several parts.

"You can switch between several soles, but fundamentally the sole of the shoe is the basic element, and it is made of plastic –sustainable plastic, mind you" she explains.

“It's a light sole with plenty of air in it that normally requires a lot of chemistry. But I have chosen thermo-plastic, which reacts to heat, which makes it easy to reuse.”

And now comes the cool part: on top of the sole you can mount whatever upper and lining you need that day. Thus you will have a leather sneaker, an urban trekker (or hiking boot, designed for smart use in the city), or perhaps a party shoe based on the same sole. That, at least, is Linda's proposal for the uppers, which are available in different materials and colours.

The many aspects of shoes
The shoe project combines two of the great passions in Linda's world, namely shoes and sustainability.

“I really love making shoes! It is an enormous challenge, because durability, support, materials, strength, craftsmanship and cool design must be incorporated into the product. In addition, I have always tried to integrate sustainability into what I am doing, whether it's being a vegetarian, taking the bus or just making it part of my projects. Therefore, it has also been so great to work with ECCO, which has a similar focus. And imagine that I can combine that focus with making shoes…”