PARIS, May 20 — Oyster shells are more commonly seen on the bottom of our plates than on the soles of our sneakers. However, that’s exactly where French designer Eugène Riconneaus has chosen to use them in a whole collection of upcycled sneakers. The aim is to bring together style and environmentalism, while helping clean up the waste polluting France’s coasts.

In the lead up to World Ocean Day, June 8, French artist and designer Eugène Riconneaus is debuting the ‘ER Soulier’ sneaker, made from marine litter. Made possible by upcycling, which gives a second life to waste and unused objects, the collection was inspired by a desire to combat pollution of the seas and oceans, in which quantities of plastic, fishing nets, and seafood waste drown.

“Fifty per cent of ocean waste comes from sea-based activities. For me this material is a way to make a proposal to others and influence actions for the ocean. The idea is to create a demand that values the products of marine waste: from fishing nets and plastics to waste from oyster farms and seaweed,” explains the designer.

Not content to contribute to the cleanup of the French coastline, Eugène Riconneaus is innovating by reinstating a potential for marine waste that was never dreamed of — and frankly unimaginable — just a few years ago. The ‘ER Soulier’ sneaker is handmade in a workshop in Portugal from fishing nets, seafood shells, and green algae, waste that is rounded out with leather scraps, natural cork, and recycled rubber. In total, nearly 80 per cent of the elements used in this new-style sneaker are recycled.

The designer, who is working with a rehabilitation association for the collection and transformation of marine waste collected in the Bay of Biscay, is currently offering the first models for pre-order, via a participatory funding campaign on Ulule. The starting price is set at €99 (RM460), but the public also has the opportunity to get a pair of custom sneakers signed by Eugene Riconneaus. The campaign, which will end on June 18, has already reached more than half of its objectives. — ETX Studio