Is The Future of Shoes Foldable? Yes! Unifold Shoes Are Genius Design


300 million people worldwide do not own a pair of shoes. Horario Yuxin Han is meeting this design challenge with technology and a little bit of optimism. We think he’s on to something.

I’d argue a woman’s heart can be penetrated via a great pair of shoes. After all, on average an American woman owns 27 pairs of shoes (men stomp in only about 12 pairs). There is no shortage of shoes for us. But globally, 300 million people are without a single pair of shoes.

Pratt Institute student, Horario Yuxin Han, in collaboration with Professor Kevin Crowley, might have an answer.  Unifold shoes are an origami-inspired foldable shoe. And yes, they are comfortable. Unifold2


Made from one piece of EVA material (see below for more on what that is), the Unifold shoe is printable and foldable. Users can print out the shoe’s design, cut material to fit, fold and voila! The innovative design can make a once extremely complicated manufacturing process of shoemaking into something accessible to everyone.

The single-material, foldable shoe is also revolutionary in its simplicity, and holds enormous possibility for widespread access to shoes made with less. Most shoes are made with gluing, sewing, laces and inner and outer molding, and require intensive skilled manufacturing. All you need for the Unifold shoe is the pattern, EVA material, and some glue.




EVA material is used in a wide range of eco-friendly shoes since it’s easily recycled. Plus, the material is a dense and durable foam, excellent for shock absorbency. Patagonia, The North Face, Teva, Keen, and Birkenstock are some of the many companies that are using EVA materials in shoes.

“I imagine that designers from all over the world could share their folding shoe design online, and customers could choose and design the ones they like and get it printed and cut in the local workshop,” says Han.

The team at Pratt is currently working to bring the Unifold shoe to the market, but we know one thing for sure: It’s truly a shoe that’s thinking outside the box.


images: Horario Yuxin Han

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Juliette Donatelli

Working in the field of sustainability for over seven years, Juliette is passionate about its intersection within the fashion industry. Juliette began studying ecological conservation, and led consumer awareness campaigns around the world from water usage in southern California, riparian restoration in South Africa, food distribution in Paris and bison habitat in the Great Plains. She has launched her passion--consumerism and sustainability--into a place where it hits home--fashion. Juliette is the founder and editor-in-chief of, Director of Sustainability at Manufacture NY, and loves to read, dance, swim and enjoy the occasional glass of champagne.