Giving himself a quick 3 week project, designer Marc Van Tichelen came up with THE SOLE FACTORY. A project that’s aimed at finding new ways to consume and recycle shoes. Essentially the idea being to restore old sneaker uppers, remove the cup-sole, recycle that rubber and then 3D print a new sole from that.
It’s not an uncommon process to restore shoe uppers and replace soles, however it’s something that’s never really been applied to sneakers. Of course, doing this with sneakers is slightly more complicated. For starters, creating a cup-sole that actually fits correctly to that specific upper and applying it firmly isn’t quite as easy as just gluing it together. Regardless though, I really like where Marc’s head is at.
The theory overall being that the leather upper will out-last a rubber outsole, and for the most part I’d say he’s bang on. Often when a predominantly leather, cup-soled sneaker is passed it’s prime, it’s often a sole issue. So if we could simply replace that cup-sole and restore the upper it really would be brilliant (for consumers anyway).
It would be interesting to see Marc take this project a step further. Perhaps go to a cobbler and try to attach that sole to the upper. There would be some serious fit issues that I think would need to be ironed out first. Once that’s figured out though, wear that bad boy out on the streets, give it some good wear testing and see how it fairs.
The concept definitely has potential. With some tweaks and further exploration it could be very interesting. For now though you can check out Marc’s THE SOLE FACTORY project below.
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