Index Award 2021 Finalists
Space Hippie
From trash to trendy sneakers

What’s the design in a nutshell?
Inspired by life on Mars, where resources are scarce, Space Hippie is an exploratory footwear collection designed with recycled materials. Made from factory scraps, or “space junk” as Nike says, Space Hippie represents a step forward for Nike in sustainability innovation. 

Why is it needed?
Over the past 15 years, the fashion industry has nearly doubled its production size. This brings many opportunities to the global economy, but also comes at a price: we’ve spent too many resources on clothing production, which could've been used for other purposes. Think about a normal cotton shirt you wear. It takes 2,700 litres of water that could be enough for a person to drink for 2.5 years

Not only does it consume many resources that are already becoming scarce, but the fashion industry is also emission-intensive. Producing a single pair of Levis Strauss Jeans can create as much carbon emissions as driving a car for over 144 kilometres. And, sadly, many of these products don't even last long. Every year, 26 billion pounds of apparel are estimated to be tossed in landfills around the globe. 

How does it work?
Compared with traditional footwear manufacturing, Space Hippie is engineered with an average of 60% less waste. Around 85-90% of its uppers are recycled from plastic bottles, t-shirts and leftover yarns from some of Nike’s best selling sneakers. For each shoe, it’s estimated that 6-7 plastic bottles were repurposed.

In addition, the cushioned insoles of Space Hippie sneakers are made with Crater Foam, a blend of standard Nike foam and 12% of Nike Grind rubber recycled from manufacturing floors. Further pursuing the circular concept, the team also replaced Nike’s previous double shoebox. Instead, packing the sustainable sneakers in a box made with over 90% repurposed materials to further cut carbon emissions.

"Just in seconds, upwards of 100,000 pairs of Space Hippie 1 were sold out globally."

How does it improve life?
As part of Nike’s move to zero initiative, Space Hippie sneakers have claimed to have the lowest carbon footprint among all Nike’s shoe collections. From its sneaker design to packaging, this collection is creatively designed with sustainability in mind. With upwards of 50% recycled content by total weight, each shoe saves Nike many virgin materials in production.

This responsible design also gives the sneakers a unique, futuristic touch - just like a pile of space waste being squeezed together with cosmic dust. Space Hippie shows great potential for the fashion industry as a whole to make aesthetically pleasing, high-performance products from what we see as 'trash'. 

What’s the impact to date?
Space Hippie is a huge commercial success, proving that sustainability, style and performance can be achieved at the same time. Since the first production season, these sustainability-oriented sneakers have won over plenty of fans all over the world. Just in seconds, upwards of 100,000 pairs of Space Hippie 1 were sold out globally.

For each pair of sneakers, just 3.7kg of carbon dioxide is generated compared to more than 13kg that a conventional pair of sneakers would create. The same recycled materials have also been adopted across Nike’s other shoe lines. The most frequent adopter is Bruce Kilgore’s 1982 design. Converse has also made its Chuck Taylor All Star with Space Waste Yarn and Crater Foam.