Sustainable shoe design and evaluation using kinematic and kinetic analysis

Nam, Changhyun
Major Professor
Young-A Lee
Chunhui Xiang
Committee Member
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

The purpose of this study was to investigate the compatibility of sustainable shoes made with bacterial cellulosic (BC) non-woven mat integrating with eco-friendly materials, compared with durability and comfort in performance of newly developed sustainable shoes and commercially available leather shoes via users’ wear testing. This study also examined wearers’ perceptions and acceptance in the sustainable shoes, compared with leather shoes via survey questionnaire. The specific research objectives of this study were to: (a) identify a proposed integrated theoretical framework for sustainable shoe design, (b) examine a multi-layered cellulosic material (MCM) by bonding BC non-woven mats, denim fabric, and hemp fabric compared with those of two-layered leathers, multi-layered calf-skin leather and pig-skin leather (MCPL), (c) develop sustainable shoe prototype made of MCM through IsAcT design process, (d) evaluate wearers’ performance in men’s commercial leather shoes comparing with sustainable shoes, and (e) assess wearers’ perceptions and acceptance of the sustainable shoes comparing with the leather shoes.

Based on the proposed integrated theoretical framework, for material test hypotheses, these two materials would have similar properties. No significant mean differences were found between MCM and MCPL in total heat loss and break force. The values of air permeability, evaporative potential, and permeability index of MCM were higher than those of MCPL. The findings of this study confirmed the effectiveness of MCM for use as a leather alternative material when developing sustainable shoes and provide insights to the footwear industry. After that, therefore, five pair of sustainable shoes were made with MCM and the other eco-friendly materials (compressed papers and cork materials).

For wear testing, it was hypothesized that there were no differences in kinetic and kinematic parameters of gait within lower extremity of participants wearing the leather shoes and sustainable shoes while performing the following three conditions: walking on flat ground, ascending, and descending stairs. A total of 37 human subjects were used for the data analysis. For kinetics, no statistically significant mean differences between the two shoes during descending stairs was identified. For kinematics, no statistically significant differences for peak angles of hips, knees, and ankles were found between the two shoes during ascending and descending stairs. The findings of this study confirmed the possibility of men’s sustainable shoes made with MCM as a leather alternate in terms of kinematics and kinetics.

Finally, a total of 42 male subjects were participated in this experimental study and their responses were used for data analysis. A paired t-test was performed to examine whether there were significant mean differences between the sustainable shoes and leather shoes, in the following five dimensions: function, expression, aesthetics, mobility related with physical fit and comfort during wear trials, and wearers’ acceptance. The findings demonstrated that the men’s shoes made with the eco-layered material configuration (MCM), which can be a leather substitute, have the potential to attract young male consumers in the future. However, the sustainable shoes in this study still remained a lack of mobility related to fit and comfort. Suggestions for future research to enhance the mobility of sustainable shoes for providing better fit and comfort of wearers are discussed.