design research | vision building | filmmaking | speculative design | design fiction


Collectors to Creators is a design fiction where our relationship with clothing, especially footwear is fundamentally different. Using found footage from cobblers and sneaker redesigners, a documentary offers a glimpse into an alternative world where the importance of newness is replaced with heritage, disposability with repairability, and mass production with craft.

My process began with secondary research into sustainability in the fashion world. While many work tirelessly to improve manufacturing processes and invent sustainable materials, I was fascinated by projects at large brands where repairing and selling refurbished clothing is becoming a bigger part of their business. There are hundreds of billions of clothing articles in the world. How might brands create articles of clothing that connected more meaningfully with their customers? And how might customers be given agency to repair or rejuvenate pieces of clothing that have seen better days?

With this research, I created a provisional scenario where Nike sells shoes in parts and hires cobblers to help incorporate new parts and repair old ones using foresight frameworks like STEEP, AAAA, and AEIOU.

Dissecting the strengths and weaknesses of my scenario, I appreciated how it interfaced with culture and felt like a bottom up movement; however, I realized that more objects and new technology might not be the answer to lowering the fashion industry’s carbon footprint. Continued secondary research revealed that not only was repair and refurbish projected to be a bigger part of large fashion brands, but also that customers were valuing newness less and less. But would people really embrace buying used or secondhand goods at scale?

That question led me to the work of Rory Fortune, a sneaker cobbler in Los Angeles able to transform used shoes into new creations. His work opened the door to wonder if the next wave of sneaker fashion could be craftsperson driven? How might that change the way we connect to our sneakers?

I presented this scenario to Kempe Scanlan, a fashion designer, futurist and researcher, and Rory Fortune himself, to more deeply understand the world I was entering into. I also interviewed them, adding necessary primary research as I built out a timeline, scenario, message, and archetype for my project.

With the key ideas of my project set, I began crafting the short documentary to express the message. I decided to use Rory Fortune as a character in the film, which led to the discoveries of Helen Kirkum and The Shoe SRGN’s work.