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Cloud Novel

Generation Novel

Generation Novel is a non-age related group of society, emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Empathetic, innovation-driven, technically savvy, with a strong digital presence, they yearn for time in nature, exercise and flexibility in their work. Driven by the desire to maintain a healthy and intentional lifestyle, they have a new relationship with sports, taking short breaks of training sessions.

Gen N are also particularly passionate about sustainability and are, therefore, willing to invest in a product of a lesser environmental impact.

A while ago now, I created this color and materials concept for running brand On, where I explore the performance, aesthetics and value response of a product fit for the target consumer of Generation Novel.

As a starting point I used the CloudNova Shoe, renaming it to CloudNovel for obvious reasons.

I started by researching what CloudNova currently offers: the most notable and hinted by the shoe’s name feature is the CloudTec technology, which allows for a softer landing, protecting the wearer’s joints. The finishes and design were made to offer long-term comfort and medium levers of longevity performance. This makes the shoe perfect for the target consumer at hand.

Then I looked into material concepts and dove deep into a few, having recognized them as most relevant for Gen N and the current, less than desirable climate situation.

The first material concept I explored is Technical Circularity. It focuses on using the current CloudTec technology and the sole Clean Cloud EVA, Photosynthetic Coating is used as a finish, which absorbs carbon emissions and uses them as a starting point for the coating. Bio-based Hikari translucent sheets are used for reinforcement and embellishment, while DyeCoo allows for a water-free, CO2-based dye. Sony Triporous treatment is used for odor and bacteria interception. The new strong, bio-based, lightweight and super durable Dyneema is used for the main upper of the shoe. It is also waterproof, breathable and has 90% lower production impact than normal Dyneema. Circularity of the production is insured through the partnership with Worn Again: a company which extracts plastic from On’s previous shoes and reuses it in the new ones. Moreover, transparency of the whole supply chain is achieved through partnership with Textile Genesis, a system to provide full detail on the product on its journey from fiber to retail, while also verifying the points of origin of the raw materials.

The second concept I called Nature Grown, because it focuses on bio-based materials (not to be confused with biodegradable). Here the main raw material of the upper is provided by AMSilk. It is a biotech silk, based on spider silk fibers and uses Biosteel (a bio-based, vegan, petroleum free, fully biodegradable, moisture managing and soft to the skin) fibril. A pricier thread alternative to Biosteel would be Spiber: protein materials, produced through the process of fermentation of sugar and with the help of microbes.  As a substitute to the translucent materials Youyang Song provides flexible film from bio waste. For the midsole, an algae blend is possible, where the plant is both sea-grown and overly abundant. For the sole, on the other hand, natural rubber, rice husk, beeswax, coconut oil or, yet again, algae can be integrated. For coloration a good option is Living Color, who use pigment-producing bacteria. In terms of the production method, the so-called microbal weaving is made possible my Modern Synthetics, where the weft is grown using, you guessed it, microbes, and the warp is then further woven by robots. Strength, as well as material direction is to be personalized to the product.

The third and final material concept is called Nature-Consumed and, as the name suggests, it focuses on biodegradability. It uses Kelsun’s Algae Knit, which is a seaweed polymer found in kelp. This organism is not only regenerative, but it also absorbs CO2. The fiber is strong and flexible and highly recommended for footwear. Let’s talk about the rubber! Not that one, it’s a bit late for that. What it’s not too late to do, though, is reverse climate change through the Go!Zero biodegradable shoe rubber. It has a low-impact production, flexibility, and the potential to be recycled multiple times. In terms of dyestuff, the choice here are the now easily accessible Colorifix, who use the DNA of color creators in nature and translate its DNA code into microorganisms to then produce the pigment. For the very important, and significant in this case, cushioning and support one can use the RestoreFoam sugarcane midsole.  Trims and translucent sheets are from Malai: a company, which utilizes coconut waste.

After having come up with the basic directions for the material curation, I focused on structures. They have a lot of potential in terms of function, highlight, fun, and can also elevate the product to a high-end artifact, which is ultimately On Running’s aspiration. Here one can use reflective ripstop, honeycomb structure, jacquard and embossed structure, as well as flock print.

With the material and structures solved in this basis of environmental deliciousness, the only thing missing is the color. True to the aesthetic of Gen N, colors are consistently decided in the scheme of Natureverse. Incorporating a mix of timeless with future trend colors, the palette is a symbiosis of natural, earthy tones with the digital notes of purple and electric lime.

And finally, when deciding on the final colorways, I looked into microscope readings of various organisms, including viral bacteria, as well as plant cells. Executing prints of this kind is suitable for the marketing material shoe, the so-called Story Piece. Additionally, I created the Commercial Take-down, which is the piece one actually buys when in the store and faced with a choice. It is normally versatile, innovative and precisely finished to perfection.

Enjoy the selection and let me know in the comments which one is your favorite.