Indiegogo is a crowdsourcing website that celebrates creative ideas. In February of 2017, they partnered with JS Shoes to launch a campaign aimed at raising funds to bring the first-ever 3D “knitted shoes” to the world. These shoes are very lightweight, eco-friendly, and let feet breathe in a way that restrictive sneakers and boots do not. JS Shoes has also patented a lauded “3D knitting technology” that eliminates wasted material and enables users to order custom-made sizes.
The biggest inspirations behind 3D knitted shoes are generally attributed to two aspects: the desire for breathable and lightweight footwear and the need to cut down on material waste and labor costs.
“After two years of research and experimenting, I worked with shoe experts, knitting experts, and knitting machine vendors and we discovered that 3D knitting can reduce 80% of shoe manufacturing process and labor,” explained Xiaoxi Shi, the owner of JS Shoes. “I really feel that this can be a truly revolutionary step for shoes. It makes shoe making much more efficient and shoe production localization possible. The first round of production that we made was for our initial Kickstarter backers. We created over 1,000 pairs that were done by one engineer and two machines within two weeks.”
The JS Shoes design studio is currently located in southern California, and its staff works with many experts from the shoe and machinery industries to ensure product quality. The staff is especially hopeful that knitted shoes will become a trend, thus providing employment opportunities for people across many communities. Moreover, the mission to cut down on material wastes is regarded as an ideal way to combat pollution.
Despite the excitement of the initial Kickstarter, there have also been numerous challenges involving the project and the campaigns that have been launched to support it.
“The most difficult part was to get the concept to production level,” Xiaoxi Shi stated. “Making one or two perfect prototypes is quite different from production. We want to prove that the whole concept system from design, to product, to delivery, can all work seamlessly.”
At present, JS Shoes have approximately 20 models which they are promoting through Indiegogo InDemand.
“It’s a great platform to introduce a product with innovative technology,” Xiaoxi Shi said. “I am open to any opportunities that can make a better product and experience. Working with a bigger company could definitely help us on a high-level platform with richer resources. I believe in team work and we welcome any kind of collaboration that can take 3D knitting to the next level.”
One of the ultimate goals for JS Shoes is to have the knitted shoes produced locally which will change the way that shoes are made, shipped, and distributed.
“The whole system potentially can improve local economies,” Xiaoxi Shi said. “We could alter the factory working environment so workers can start to learn how to operate knitting machinery instead of cutting or stitching in production lines.”
So far, the concept has garnered international national acclaim, having won the IDSA Award in the United States and the Good Design Award in Japan. Moreover, Xiaoxi Shi has been invited to SLEM in the Netherlands, where she will give a speech about the future of shoe manufacturing.
“To be a designer, you need to have a passion for shoes and creativity, as well as a sense of trend and a knowledge of how the product is made,” Xiaoxi Shi stated. “It is worth the work since it is very rewarding when our users receive their shoes and show appreciation.”
To learn more about JS Shoes, visit their official website.
[Featured Image by Kelli Dobbins/Productivity PR]