Case Study

Product Design


Design for sustainability

Project Type

Invidual project

My role

Product Designer


1 month in 2018

UX Method

User Interview
User Flow
Competitive & Comparative Analysis
Heuristic Analysis
Information Architecture

What is SHOEDealer

A digital platform that leveraging the shoe deadstock and the feedstock waste generated in the production process to enable users revitalize their worn shoes and therefore extend the life cycle.

My approach



  • Understanding the background
  • Understanding business potential
  • Defining project goals
  • Expected methods



  • System Map
  • Competitive Analysis
  • User Interview (6)
  • Affinity Mapping



  • Information Architecture
  • Wireframes
  • Low-fi Design
  • High-fi Design



  • Usability Testing
  • Comments
  • Design iterations

Define the problem

The potential of durable sneaker rubbish & the needs of customized sneakers.

The potential of durable sneaker rubbish

Traditional longevity focuses on maximizing material integrity by asking: How long can we make this product last? 

With the advancements in synthetic material, anyone has access to materials that will outlast us all. The problem is, once the user’s lifestyle changes (as it always does) their need for the product ceases. This system leaves us with ‘extremely durable’ piles of rubbish.

The overlooked needs of sneaker customization

The younger generation yearns to stay on top of fashion trends, and they have a strong desire to showcase their taste and creativity. However, limited edition sneakers and apparel are typically expensive or inaccessible, which leaves a significant room for improvement. We could introduce a business that involves redesigning sneakers by leveraging dead-stock and unworn sneakers to both meet the business needs and the enviromental protecting objective.

The solution

SHOEDealer as an integrated UGC (User-Generated Content) design system that integrates footwear recycling, manufacturing, and custom sneaker design

SHOEDealer system will significantly prolong the life cycle of the shoes. It helps absorb the waste generated upstream from consumers, stockpiles, recycling centers, and the over-production of the factory. By organizing these wasted ' mines of the urban' and redesigning the used shoes with recycled material, the waste that ends up in landfills will be much reduced.​


By providing a small intervention, I make the sneaker customization service accessible to a larger market



  • Treat a shoe as a construction of interchangeable parts
  • Provide more design solutions all at once
  • The total cost depends on users’ choice

Digitalize the redesign process



  • Make the sneaker redesign process more accessible for customer with low technical literacy

  • Bring more fun to the users and therefore improve their engagement of choosing this low-carbon-footprint lifestyle

  • Empower the creativity

Track the carbon footprint / money you saved through this redesign process



  • Provide a data-driven overhaul of the shoe redesign system

  • “when you ask people what sort of [energy consumption] information they are after, they want to know how much money they could save.”

  • Synchronizing carbon footprint data the customers saved in profile to gradually shape their unconscious climate-friendly behavior

  • Take some of the cognitive—and moral—load off the shoulders’ of the carbon-conscious consumer

Reinforcing new habits happens through creating new norms in communities



  • By migrating the social media functions to SHOEDealer to encourage the behavioural

  • Take some of the cognitive—and moral—load off the shoulders’ of the carbon-conscious consumer

Style guide
Color Scheme



Design process

Initial problem hypothesis

Revitalize our sneakers using the deadstock of materials and the durable waste to reduce the carbon footprint is a feasible solution to

  • Boost the sustainable economy
  • Prolong the life-cycle of our sneakers

  • Customize the sneakers with a low cost

Identify the business needs

' Sneakers are one of the most lucrative and fast-paced items in the fashion industry.'

Influenced by the pop culture, the young generation are being attracted by the rising sneaker culture. Collecting and redesigning the sneakers has gradually became a fashion to express their fashion taste and lifestyle. This trend empowers the business feasibility by leveraging the overproduction and fashion waste produced in the upper channel to tailor the sneakers based on users' needs.

I see the potential of blending the trend of owning customized sneakers with a sustainable, low-cost tailoring business.

  • The prevalent sneaker culture

  • The rising Gen Z and millennials customers

  • The trend of athleisure

  • Environmental Justice (e.g. Patagonia)

Business gap

The sustainable sportswears are typically expensive but with a medicore look - what can we do to turn this situation around?

Here I did a competitor analysis toward the sports brand & sneaker redesign studios on the market to define the metrics of this case study. I identified their areas need improvements and this could be a blueprint of the business direction of SHOEDealer.

The three main features SHOEDealer addresses that other brands couldn't compete with:

  • Affordability

  • Design creativity

  • A strong community - accountability

User motivations

Understand the pain points of users from the comments of consumers on the Internet. Then, I distilled the key view of points into two personas as my target customers.

Primary user research

After seeing the psychology + competition sphere, I wanted to hear some insights from my target user’s
experiences to cater the final product towards their needs

Here are the questions I asked them:

  • How many shoes you purchase each year?

  • How many unworn shoes are left in the corner lacking of use?

  • Can you tell me about your current shoe purchasing habits and what factors influence your decisions?

  • Have you ever thought about the environmental impact of the shoes you purchase?

  • How important is sustainability to you when it comes to purchasing shoes?

  • What are your thoughts on the current state of sustainability in the shoe industry?

  • Can you explain your understanding of a sustainable shoe redesign system and what it entails?

Affinity map

Processing + Grouping the insights

Insight 01

Modular design

Whether the user’s needs change the components of their sneakers on a daily or yearly basis, the modular design adapts to these changes to ensure it continues to stay relevant.

Insight 02

Users need more design guidance

Consumers strongly identify with good design but are confused about how to design it themselves. Therefore, this app needs some basic design templates to build their designs on.

Insight 03

The blurred boundary between fashion and sportswear

Many consumers now expect their shoes to serve multiple purposes and be suitable for different occasions, and are looking for pieces that are both stylish and functional.

Insight 04

Users prefer outsourcing the production process

To my surprise, most interviewers prefer to have someone else take care of the process of creating or producing something for them rather than doing it themselves.

Information Architecture

Low-fidelity wireframe

The first version of high-fidelity design


When I first decided to make an application related to sneaker design, I thought it would be hard to design a functional application without a vast knowledge of the manufacturing process, even though I'm a zealous fan of collecting sneakers. So, I researched the assembly and production process of different shoes, analyzed them, and consulted with experts in the field. Through analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of redesigning a sneaker, I found a solution to why users think it is complicated and hard. I thought about how to express the heavy topic and a lot of information engagingly. I drew and illustrated myself to make the UI emotionally appealing. It took much effort to create all the illustrations and icons, but I was able to convey a unified brand experience by providing visuals of a unified tone and mood.

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