The first biodegradable and vegan shoes.

The first biodegradable and vegan shoes.

The first prototype biodegradable shoes and vegan diets made by Jillian Silverman and Wing Tang, two students of the Department of fashion and apparel at the University of Delaware, with a bio-composite material, renewable and sustainably sourced from regional products.

The biodegradable shoes made were submitted all & #8217; national exhibition of sustainable Design, American science and engineering Festival that was held in Washington on 7-8 April this year.

Students in the Fashion Design program design shoes made from mushrooms.

“L & #8217; fashion industry produces a lot of waste, Therefore, sustainability is becoming an objective common to many. It's hard to believe that people change their eating habits but these shoes, When you're tired or get ruined, can get stuck in the organic waste instead of landfill”.  Jillian Silverman

The project began in 2015, When Silverman conducted research as a university student in a summer program, working with an Assistant Professor of fashion and apparel studies, Kelly Kobb. Together they made some attempts at achieving sustainable footwear, starting from scrap processing and the study of different types of fungus. The final project of the summer program of Silverman, has been very successful, but the student did not surrender, continuing to study mushrooms even during his master.

“I kept thinking about it. I couldn't get the mushrooms from head. ” Jillian Silverman

For the later development of his project leaned Huantian Cao, a fashion and apparel studies professor and Co-Director of the Sustainable Apparel Initiative by UD, who had earlier offered his experience in similar research projects to create sustainable footwear, starting from a variety of composite materials.

The researchers had experienced the growth of several species of fungi and l & #8217; using different materials, known as substrates, When the mycelium forms its network of roots. The mycelium is none other than the vegetative body of mushrooms. Have grown numerous samples, have them dried and tested them for potential use as sole of a shoe.

The nutrients in which the specimens are grown included chicken feathers and a textile waste product, often used as packing material.

 “Chicken pens and textile products provide nutrients for the mycelium, and I am also a carrier material in which to grow. They act as a sort of glue to form an array and create a network structure for the mycelium.” Huantian Cao

After playing this experiment, samples of mycelium grown by the help of Silverman are tested and analyzed for the best species and composition. The mycelium was grown into a mold shaped soft sole to be covered by a “skin” Vegan to make it more durable.

Fellow Wing Tang created the top of the shoe using the muslin fabric scraps, discarded by the students of the Department of design and fashion, of vegetable dyes and cotton yarn to 100%.

“The design resembles mushrooms when stacked and everything is completely biodegradable.” Wing Tang


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