A new way to make shoes

A few years ago, Anna Korshun was a product design student at the Dutch Design Academy.

A new way to make shoes

Now, she’s a celebrated shoe designer, known for her fresh takes on classics and novel approach to shoemaking.

A new way to make shoes

The young designer has unveiled her latest project, a shoe collection made using an innovative form of assemblage.

A new way to make shoes

Korshuns’s shoes eliminate the two forms of waste that she sees in typical shoes production: leather and glue and overly intense labor.

A new way to make shoes

In solving these, she was able to introduce a concern for sustainability that she felt was missing from the fashion industry.

A new way to make shoes

The shoes are made using a slotting technique that uses no glue or stitching.

A new way to make shoes

First, the leather is laser-cut into patterns that make up the upper part of the shoe and soles.

A new way to make shoes

The upper is bent and slotted into the holes that perforate the soles…

A new way to make shoes

…CLICK.

A new way to make shoes

The connection is strengthened by liquid plastic, which hardens after a period of curing.

A new way to make shoes

And done!

A new way to make shoes

Korshun stresses that the shoes are assembled in Dutch workhouses, where unemployed workers, along with those with disabilities, complete the process.

Stylish Shoes Made Without Glue Or Stitching

A shoe collection from Dutch designer Anna Korshun cuts down on wasteful materials and labor.

Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to create a breakthrough. Shoe designer Anna Korshun was originally trained in product design. But for her final student project at the Dutch Design Academy, she chose to venture into fashion and create a shoe collection. "I thought it was a challenging product," says the young designer. The line grew into a full-fledged atelier, where Korshun has been developing an innovative technique for making shoes using a minimum of material and toxic glue.

The transition wasn’t smooth, as Korshun realized how different product design and fashion really were. The latter runs off an unhealthy diet of seasonal cycles and trends, she says, while the former tackles matters of user experience and sustainability. Korshun soon saw just how little the industry shares with her own training.

Concerning sustainable practices, most footwear enterprises implemented few, if any, instead operating on gross use of labor and material. "I visited factories in Europe where different types of shoes were produced," Koshun tells Co.Design. "What I saw was that the shoes need a lot of different components: There is a LOT of glue, it needs stitching and it’s very labor intensive."

That’s when she hatched her idea: To design footwear that was easy to assemble and made with sustainable materials. Her shoes are constructed with a "clicking technique" that uses zero glue or stitching and virtually nullifies intensive fabrication processes, though Korshun stresses that there is still assemblage work involved. (In other words, these aren’t "Ikea" shoes that you can buy and assemble yourself.) Her wares aren’t produced by professionals but by participants of Dutch Sociaal werkplaats, or social-working houses, where long-unemployed and mentally and physically disabled workers piece together the shoes.

Korshun explains that she derived the process from the Elastic Wood chair by Israeli designer Gil Sheffi, which consists of wood and elastic parts held at joints by hardened rubber and a few nuts and bolts. No glue or extensive joinery necessary. Adapting the same principles to her footwear, she separates the shoe into two chief components, the leather upper and insole fastened together by rubber. The latter is perforated with narrow holes that the upper hooks into; a mold filled with liquid rubber is applied to the bottom of the shoe and allowed to cure.

The nature of the slotting technique does have a few drawbacks, Korshun admits. "It’s not very easy to make a completely closed shoe. Like a winter version." She is, however, currently hard at work at solving that problem and hopes to have boot models just in time for fall.

The shoes are available in sizes 37 to 41. Order them here for €129.

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3 Comments

  • Guest

    Traditional Mexican Huarache Footwear is also be made without glue. See this example below.

    http://huaracheblog.wordpress....

    Though it is much more technical and time consuming, a woven can offer other environmental advantages. For example depending on the design, Huaraches can be made with very little off-cut material waste compared to other complex die-cut uppers.

    What intrigues me about the Korshun design is how the rubber sole bonds to the leather insole only through curing?

  • RuthAnn Hogue

    Perhaps I spoke too soon. My initial research on workhouses brought up information about poor working conditions and low pay in times past. While the low pay is likely still valid, it appears that these workhouses exist today to provide people with work who otherwise would not have an income or the ability to contribute to society. I doubt it is altogether altruistic, however, as one of the main goals of this business appears to be to use as little labor as possible. I just hope the workers are not being paid less than anyone else would be paid to do the same labor.

  • RuthAnn Hogue

    I trust that the assemblers are being paid a fair market wage. Actually, I don't, but I'd like to know if such is the case. Why not say the production of these shoes created jobs? To say that those who are making these shoes are either disabled or have been out of the workforce for a long time is demeaning. I would not even consider wearing these shoes manufactured under such predatory conditions cloaked as managing labor resources.