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Allbirds and Pensole Want Designers to Rethink Footwear Materials

Another popular footwear brand is joining Pensole’s roster of brand partners.

San Francisco-based Allbirds is looking to infuse its program with young designers set on creating sustainable footwear.

The Pensole Design Academy, a growing pipeline for young footwear designers, has announced plans to partner with Allbirds on a new master class focused on creating sustainable footwear designs. Digitally native Allbirds will join Pensole and academy founder D’Wayne Edwards in educating 12 hand-picked students during a three-week “learn by doing” design program.

“Teaming up with Allbirds for this program, we want to reshape the way aspiring designers view sustainability by having them incorporate it into their designs from the very beginning,” Edwards said. “Rather than focus on future innovation, we’re challenging our students to utilize existing resources in a way they’ve never been used before.”

Pensole and Allbirds are asking prospects to submit designs that take inspiration from biodegradable household items, like coffee filters, cup holders, egg cartons and produce bags. Then, students will submit a one-page color and materials mood board that incorporates these items.

“The central purpose is to help redefine what is considered sustainable by showcasing the creative process of people reusing and repurposing items,” Edwards said.

Pensole will select 12 winners for the hands-on master class taking place from March 23 to April 10 at academy’s Portland, Ore. headquarters. The class will be composed of footwear, color and materials, apparel, and accessory design programs. Entrants can register for the class until March 9.

Tuition and shared housing will be free and winning designers may be selected for an internship with Allbirds.

Pensole has expanded its education offering in recent months, announcing online courses at the end of 2019 and teaming up with Foot Locker and New Balance on a separate sneaker design competition. Earlier in February, Pensole and Vibram agreed to a multiyear partnership that will see the rubber outsole manufacturer working closely with the academy on to-be-announced projects.