Dubai - Dubai youth turns plastic waste into trendy sneakers

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Ashay Bhave makes shoes using fabric derived entirely from waste plastic bags.

An Indian origin visual artist and industrial designer is making waves in the design industry after devising a brand of sneakers made from recycled plastic.

Ashay Bhave, 21-year-old former student of Amity University, makes shoes using fabric derived entirely from waste plastic bags. He has named it as Thaely, Hindi word for plastic bags.

Ashay moved to Dubai three years ago and is a recipient of the Eureka Startup Award at Amity University. The young designer said the idea for 'Thaely' was born out of necessity and the desire to create something unique. "I started working on the idea in the end of 2017. As part of my design portfolio, I was looking to create footwear that is cost-effective and safe for the environment. I needed to come up with something that uses recycled plastic without creating any more plastic waste," explained Ashay. The fabric used for the shoes does not use any additional chemicals, ultimately minimising waste.

He said: "I was in India for vacation, and got a prototype made using this material. I provided the material to a cobbler back home in Mumbai, and asked him to work on creating a shoe based on the design I gave him in the summer of 2018.

"Each pair uses a total of 15 plastic bags and 22 bottles." Though Ashay did not reveal the process through which he derives the fabric from the shoes, he said: "The bags are sourced from scrap processing corporations and supermarkets."

His work gained attention from Matteo Boffa, one of the judges at the Amity University Eureka Startup Award. Boffa went on to become Ashay's mentor and business partner.

Discussing the future of the brand, Ashay said: "Boffa liked the idea and came on board.

He is already running a well-known sustainable bag brand. Now, we're doing the initial marketing processes. Prospective buyers can pre-order starting January. Also, the shoe has received about 200 to 300 pre-orders."

The idea also made it to the university's incubation centre for business ideas, an enterprising hub where student ideas will be nurtured and funded by the university.

Commenting on the price of the sneakers, Ashay said: "It is not going to be too expensive. Somewhere around the same price as Nike or Adidas shoes." His work was most recently seen at Tashkeel studio at the Conscious Consumption Exhibition.

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Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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