Instead of buying yet another pair of Toms this summer, perhaps you order an envelope with a leather shoe upper, a leather shoe sole, and some cotton laces inside. Then you stitch the pieces together. And so you’ve made a shoe, with all the ease of an Easy Bake Oven.
That’s the premise behind Pikkpack, a new footwear company with a Kickstarter campaign. "By implementing the DIY concept, we would like to encourage the user’s participation in the manufacturing process and therefore to improve the user-product connection," says Hanna Halasz, who—along with co-founder Sara Gulyas—based the Pikkpack design off a traditional Hungarian bocskor shoe made from a single piece of leather. It’s an ultra-minimalist product: Pikkpack shoes weigh less than one pound, and only uses a small amount of glue in the heels.
Pikkpack is the latest in a string of shoes that tout sustainable design elements. Toms proudly brands their shoes as vegan, and part of the innovation behind Nike’s Flyknit technology is that the construction creates less waste during manufacturing. Pikkpack’s approach is to invoke the same flat-packed shipping, DIY assembly stipulations that come with the purchase of an Ikea bed.
However, a furniture shipment has a larger footprint than a pair of lightweight leather slip-ons—so Pikkpack’s appeal may ultimately have less to do with sustainability and more to do with the experience. Asking users to take the product across the finish line by sewing together shoe uppers translates into a personal attachment to the product in question. It’s the same reason Betty Crocker’s cake mixes ask the "baker" to stir in a real egg—it creates a sense of ownership, something the Pikkpack founders are hip to: "The shoe starts out as a flat piece of leather and then the wearer transforms it into a 3-D piece of clothing with his own hands," Halasz tells Co.Design. "Pikkpack is about playfulness and involvement."
Pikkpack shoes cost $90, at the early bird Kickstarter price. After that, they’ll cost $110.