Just Cobble It transports its audience into an alternate world where fashion shifts towards sustainability by prioritizing heritage, repairibility, and craft over newness. The move, driven by consumer sentiment, incentivizes Nike to invest in artisans like cobblers to work directly with consumers to repair and redesign existing sneakers while using digital sneakers to scale their business.  

METHODOLOGY: Primary Research, Secondary Research, Strategic Foresight, Design Fiction, Speculative Design

SKILLS: World Building, Filmmaking, Interviewing, Graphic Design

ROLE: Lead Design Strategist

Just Cobble It was done with Nike as an imagined client.



The fashion industry, led by Nike, is adapting to climate concerns and evolving consumer mindsets through building more sustainable practices including refurbished and repaired clothing. The challenge is: how does Nike make refurbished items as desirable as new ones?

“On average consumers wear clothes 36 percent fewer times than they did 15 years ago. If the number of times a garment is worn were doubled on average, greenhouse gas emissions would be 44 percent lower. Enhanced resale models offer an attractive opportunity for unwanted clothes durable enough to be used again.”

Clarisse Magnin, Saskia Hedrich, ‘Refashioning Clothing’s Environmental Impact’ McKinsey

“24.2bn pairs of shoes manufactured in 2018. 90% of shoes still end up in landfill.”
Alejandro Aravena, ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ The Guardian

Nike has plans of offering Nike Refurbished product at 15 stores, with plans to scale the program to more locations. Nike Refurbished will be offered Factory Outlets, Clearance Stores, and Community Stores, although this does not rule out Nike’s flagship locations in the future.
John Kim ‘The Nike Refurbished Program Helps Solve One Of Their Biggest Problems: Returns’ SneakerNews

How we define when material becomes “waste” and waste becomes “recycled” affects how waste problems and opportunities are defined... We want to create a consumer experience that empowers consumers to extend product life and reduce waste. Our goal is to leverage at least 25% of Tier 1 factory waste back into footwear.



To understand my question more thoroughly, I interviewed Rory Fortune, a modern-day cobbler at Goods and Services, and Kempe Scanlan, a fashion designer and futurist. Rory's work with refurbishing old sneakers provided a present-day, small-scale example of how classic practices are being used to breathe new life into fashion, highlighting a weak signal of change. Kempe's insights confirmed and expanded on my research, shedding light on the potential of the digital fashion space. 

These conversations revealed that combining classic refurbishment practices with digital fashion could create powerful, sustainable fashion solutions.


“When it’s your shoe there’s a sentimental attachment to it and something magical happens when we rebuild it. People get so much more excited and you can tell because there’s an emotional attachment to it as opposed to buying something that’s cool.”

“A lot of big sneaker companies have reached out to us. There’s a lot of interest in what we’re doing from all over the place, whether it’s sneaker companies or the press, because circularity is getting bigger but sneakers aren’t built to be circular.”

“It’s a veritable Frankenshoe laboratory, where dead sneakers are somehow reanimated and reimagined.” 


“Antiquity, heritage, elegance, entrenched soul, and meaning is starting to make a comeback with Gen Z, and with that a resurgence of craft.”

“You’re going to literally have these yin and yangs where people care about both digital and physical fashion.”

Nike on Monday announced the acquisition of RTFKT, a company that makes digital sneakers, the latest sign that the sportswear giant sees enormous financial potential in the new immersive reality unknown as the metaverse.


‘Buying more and buying new’ encouraged as Patriotic in the United States after World War II marking the beginning of consumerism

Fast Fashion picks up. Zara founded under the principle of ‘Make Speed the Driving Force’

21 Billion pairs of shoes manufactured with 90% ending up in landfills

Poshmark founded, signaling the beginning of a move forward secondhand fashion

Newness cited as one of the least important factors in buying clothes

Rory Fortune founds Goods + Services in Los Angeles, the first custom resole and redesign store in the United States

Repurposed garments and materials become ubiquitous in luxury fashion shows.

Helen Kirkum reaches 1 million followers

Hundreds of shoe repair aficionados spill into the streets at the Goods and Services Holiday Party

Helen Kirkum teams up with renowned 3D artist @RenderCap to create first digital and physical shoe, transforming the footwear market.

Nike announces The Next Gen project, hiring a group of artisans to create more personal, direct relationships with consumers and more fully integrating shoe repair and remixing into their business.


To give the story focus, I centered my world around sneakers due to their significance to iconic brands like Nike, sneakerhead culture, and the creative potential illustrated by present-day cobblers like Rory Fortune and Helen Kirkum. I started building an alternate world by using found footage to explore the stories, connections, and opportunities Nike could unlock by emphasizing the people behind the repair.

Investment in repair could not only connect Nike audiences to emerging web3 spaces like .SWOOSH and RTFKT, but also deepen their connection with the brand, fostering a more engaged and loyal community.


The resulting short film hints at a world where sustainable fashion is achievable by revitalizing tools, strengthening our relationship with artisans, and rethinking how we interact with clothing. It suggests how a brand like Nike could lead this transformation and change how people relate to their apparel.

For more in-depth insights, listen to my discussion with Julian Bleecker on Episode 064 of The Near Future Laboratory Podcast.