Sneaker Composed Entirely Of Renewable CO2 Emissions

Sneaker Composed Entirely Of Renewable CO2 Emissions

The shoe prototype inspires dialogue between fashion designers and members of the energy industry

Conner Dial, Fashion Editor
  • 15 september 2016

At the tail end of New York Fashion Week, a “shoe made of air” was unveiled. Quite literally, too—the collaborative effort between the energy company NRG and former Design Director at Nike, D’wayne Edwards, is a sneaker made from repurposed CO2.

Speaking at a panel moderated by Nina Garcia, a hodgepodge of industry professionals met to discuss the inspiration behind the design, as well how the tech, energy and fashion worlds can work together on sustainability. Burak Cakmak, Dean of Parson’s School of Design, represented the fashion sector, along with supermodel-turned-fashion designer, Coco Rocha.

The sneaker is a symbol for this collision of thought, but also opens the possibility for a wide-range of products, wearable or not, made from recycled carbon dioxide. Though the technology for CO2 conversions certainly exists, it is neither affordable nor an easy process.

Researchers developed the shoe using a type of foam harnessed from the CO2 byproduct—an arduous process they kept under wraps. But for all of its science-backed hardware, it looks good, too. The sleek, minimal design doesn’t veer far from the trendy resurgence of fashionable activewear.

Despite its advocation for sustainability in fashion, only the shoe’s sole is composed of CO2. The upper half was made with traditional fossil based ingredients. Nevertheless, the shoe has incited a conversation about how fashion products are created.

The prototype will kickoff a contest called the Carbon XPRIZE. NRG, along with Cosia (Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance), are offering a $20 million prize for the development of technologies that convert carbon dioxide emissions into usable products. The 47 teams that are currently competing will be scored on the amount of CO2 used, as well as the net value of their products.

While NRG’s Vice President Gin Kinney spoke of the company’s role in building sustainable practices, project leader Marcel Botha called for artists to help technology sectors produce eco-friendly goods that appeal to consumers.

On the fashion side, Coco Rocha discussed the role social media has played in creating awareness for sustainable fashions. According to Rocha, social media-savvy consumers are well-informed of how their garments are produced. Green fashion has turned trendy because it tells a story. Parson’s Burak Cakmak stated his school’s commitment to building a generation of designers who can create beautiful pieces, while teaching design practices with minimal carbon footprints.

As carbon converting technologies become cheaper and more accessible, green fashions will hopefully be just as renewable as they are wearable. The “shoe without a footprint” offers an early glimpse into technology that could revolutionize manufacturing.


+arts & culture
+Burak Cakmak
+Coco Rocha
+Nina Garcia
+Parsons School of Design
+recycled carbon dioxide

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