When, during his third year he read that 1,800 brand new tyres were due to be incinerated owing to the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix because of Covid, he realised that there was an opportunity to use his former research as the building blocks to something bigger.
“I just thought, Wow! I knew rubber was used in footwear and I knew that I could find a better use for those tyres. Sustainable design and the circular economy were a big part of my course.”
Since graduating, Alex has spent the last two years speaking to tyre manufacturers, shoe producers, material scientists and race series organisers, including Formula 1, plus doing extensive research into manufacturing techniques in order to create a unique, recyclable solution to the environmental pollution generated by both fast-fashion and tyre waste.
“I didn’t take any time off after uni. I’d spent my placement year doing an entrepreneurship year trying to make contacts with my previous project so in a way I kind of knew what I had to do. I effectively became a sponge, learning how to adapt the idea and craft it. I also utilised as many free resources as I could; grants, pockets of money, awards, and attending events where I didn’t know anybody. I was like a truffle pig looking for opportunity and advice”.
The hard work paid off and Alex now has the backing of many in the industry including F1 racetrack Silverstone. Compound Footwear’s launch coincides with a growing sustainability push in the tyre and motorsport industries, particularly Formula 1, which has committed to achieving Net Zero Carbon status by 2030.
Alex hopes to expand the range from footwear into other forms of clothing: “I’d like to create a circular clothing system from the Formula 1 teams by taking the discarded clothing and making it into new clothes.”
Alex’s lecturer Gareth Owen Lloyd says that his design is a great example of what the course tries to instil in students:
"Compound was Alex's final project during his Product Design studies as a part of the Distributed Design studio for which I was his tutor. The studio focused on alternatives to mass-production and traditional consumption models and Alex's design is a prime example. As the project's tutor, it has been satisfying to see it progress from initial material experiments to product launch. Since graduation, Alex has achieved notable milestones, including securing an Innovate UK grant. We are so proud of his accomplishments and look forward to the launch of his product. From everyone here at 91Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµ, we wish him the best of luck on this exciting journey."
The first range of sneakers will launch on 24 October 2023 via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Early supporters will enjoy exclusive, limited-edition sneakers and clothing at special launch prices. For every pair of shoes the company sells it also pledges to donate funds to preserve 100sqm of Ecuadorian rainforest.