April 16, 2019

PUMA highlights a new bacteria-infused shoe that breathes

PUMA opens up around its ongoing “Bioevolution” project and namely a dynamic, bacteria-infused shoe. The German sportswear brand teased the “A Breathing Shoe” concept back in 2018 as part of a collaboration with the  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Design Lab.

This time around, PUMA partnered with the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology to make their “A Breathing Shoe” a reality. The brand presented its latest work at Milan Design Week 2019.

What is Bioevolution?

It’s PUMA Innovation’s philosophy around Adaptive Dynamics. The goal is to create products that adapt to the needs of modern athletes in real time.

What is “A Breathing Shoe?”

The concept uses what it calls “biologically active materials” that feature heat-sensing microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and micro algae) that react to the heat and sweat of the wearer. The shoe’s upper will align itself based on the sweat and heat of the wearer to create unique ventilation patterns. The shoe arrives as a blank slate and changes with the wearer.

Why we’re excited

We’ve discussed the challenges around customization and debated whether consumers actually want to design their own pieces. But concepts like A Breathing Shoe are fundamentally different where regular wear creates the customization. It offers an interesting a unique bond with the wearer, not unlike raw denim or the patina of leather.

This modern integration with hopeful performance benefits can usher in a new era of biotechnology-based fashion and performance products. While the environmental footprint is yet to be determined, there’s been a lot of interest around a post cotton, post-synthetic world. These materials have shown to be detrimental to our world ranging from water and toxic pollution to overall waste. Material innovations like this are interesting from a performance perspective. But our real hope is to arrive at truly sustainable outcomes through biomaterials.

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