Photos of shoes and city buildings with neon scribbles doodled over them.
The Footwear Collective
Brand Strategy & Design

Building Circularity in the Footwear Industry

Building on The Footwear Manifesto written by MIT researchers, The Footwear Collective is a cross-industry group aiming to develop a circular future for footwear. Other Tomorrows partnered with the team to support their launch and bring together key industry players at their inaugural workshop. We designed a new visual identity and facilitated activities during the workshop, helping create their engagement model for partner brands.


Bringing Footwear Brands Together for the Planet

The Footwear Collective is part of EarthDNA, an organization working towards the sustainability of humanity and all living things. Within EarthDNA, The Footwear Collective drives a collaborative and circular approach to the footwear industry. They provide a shared platform and resources for traditionally competitive brands to work together, scope, develop, and scale solutions.

Our work with The Footwear Collective was two-fold: The Footwear Collective needed a fashion-credible visual identity, as well as help co-designing and facilitating workshop activities for the first cohort of partner brands.

“Shoes have long empowered humans to discover unexplored territories. However, the industrialization of shoemaking has created unintended consequences for the planet. The footwear industry must now accept a new mission: to keep us exploring while preserving the health of our planet.”

 - The Footwear Manifesto by Dr. Yuly Fuentes-Medel, Leslie Yan, Karo Buttler

Street billboard with a poster of The Footwear Collective reading "Move Fearlessly, Leave No Footprint."

Fearless yet approachable and fashion-credible.

A commitment toward circularity requires brands to be fearless as they work on a daunting challenge. As The Footwear Collective's founding and executive director, Dr. Yuly Fuentes-Medel, described, this fearlessness is about creating safe spaces where brands may fail. The brand must also be approachable to partners to strike the right balance between fearless and safe. This way, partners will feel empowered to openly discuss and collaborate on initiatives that may initially be imperfect. Finally, sustainability can't come at the expense of fashion. The brand and partner experience needed to feel at home next to the leading fashion brands of our partners to be credible.

Building cross-industry collaboration.

Collaborating with your competitors is not common, especially in the footwear industry. But the Footwear Collective's goals are large enough that they must bring companies together for the greater needs of the planet. Achieving scale is critical for circular operations, and collaboration is crucial. To ensure success, the Footwear Collective needed to facilitate an environment where brands felt empowered to move together toward the common goal.

The Footwear Collective and Other Tomorrows co-created activities to jumpstart this cross-industry collaboration at the workshop. Partner brand representatives were brought together by highlighting each partner's strengths, aligning on a shared mission, and prioritizing goals. Despite the diversity of expertise, customer base, and brand identities, participants bonded around shared stories and struggles toward their common goal.

A team of 8 people looking at a whiteboard in discussion during a workshop.

Visually representing a fearless and fashion-credible brand.

The Other Tomorrows team designed a flexible and scalable visual brand system. The primary audience was internal teams and partner brands, but the team designed the system to be flexible enough for a consumer audience. We provided guidelines and design examples that brought the brand to life across digital, print, and workshop applications. 

The visual brand communicates The Footwear Collective's mission of circularity by visually capturing "a sketch in progress" and using a striking palette with bold accents. Simple, flat shapes highlight essential content and help keep the brand clean, accessible, and consistent across touchpoints.

Designing frameworks to facilitate the collective circular journey.

To support The Footwear Collective and its partners, Other Tomorrows created multiple frameworks to aid collaboration and communication. These included using existing models, such as a prioritization framework, and new models, such as The Footwear Collective Map, which visualizes the collective's three Core Pillars. We also collaboratively prototyped The Footwear Collective Canvas. This tool will serve as a roadmap for different working groups throughout their first year of collaboration and contains guidance for each phase. Though the journey toward a circular economy will be challenging, we're proud to have supported an inspiring team on a tireless mission toward a footwear industry with no footprint.

Read their press release here

The logos. Brand touchpoints such as a stack of colorful workbooks for The Footwear Collective workshops. Another image next to it showing a TV with their workshop presentation screen.An overview of three worksheets with questions and visual frameworks for The Footwear Collective's core pillars and prioritization.[Top left] Shoelaces with The Footwear Collective's label / [bottom left] A candid photo of person wearing a name tag with The Footwear Collective's branding and holding a coffee cup / [right] A team of people in discussion during a workshop.
Project Team

Other Tomorrows

María Risueño Domínguez

Marisa Bohlmann

Hannah Oh

Lee Moreau

The Footwear Collective

Dr. Yuly Fuentes-Medel

Lasse Lindqvist

Julia Viner

Lewis Campbell

Mark Flaa


Guillermo Trotti

Dr. Dava Newman