The Shoe Fits for
Industrial Design Student

Senior Elena Krupicka, World Sneaker Championship winner, will have her design sold at Foot Locker.

Elena Krupicka has sole.

The industrial design senior won the Pensole World Sneaker Championship for her shoe design that connects the natural world to the urban runner. Along with earning the $10,000 prize, she will work with competition sponsors Puma and Foot Locker to have her design manufactured and sold at select locations in 2021.

“It’s absolutely crazy,” says Krupicka of the honor. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something like this. I have really grown as a designer, and I thought this could be the next challenge for me.”

Rendering of Elena Krupicka's sneaker.
In a nod to biomimicry, Elena Krupicka added reflective elements to help runners stay safe at night.

A dusky blue dominates the upper part of her sneaker, while accents of vivid yellow butterflies in motion appear in the details. In a nod to biomimicry, she added reflective elements to help runners stay safe at night in the unpredictable urban environment.

Competing in the color and material design category, the Oregon native sailed through the four rounds of online public voting, which led to a final pitch in front of Puma, Foot Locker and Pensole executives in Boston in December.

Judging her on design, storytelling and presentation skills, marketing potential and manufacturability, the experts praised Krupicka—a textile design minor—for her materials knowledge.

I have really grown as a designer, and I thought this could be the next challenge for me.
—Elena Krupicka

“The area of color and material design is relatively new and it’s a big opportunity,” she notes. “Performance companies like Puma are looking for someone who understands both the shoe construction and colors and textiles that go with it. It’s unique for someone to know industrial design as well as textiles.”

Elena Krupicka works her on project.

Elena Krupicka’s sneaker will be available at select Foot Lockers in 2021.

The whole experience solidified her interest in pursuing employment in the white-hot sneaker business, an industry projected to be worth over $95 billion in 2025 (skyrocketing from a $55 billion valuation in 2016).

“I’m so proud and grateful,” says Krupicka, who also just won her second scholarship from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. “It’s a huge deal for me and for my career.”

The World Sneaker Championship distinction exemplifies Jefferson’s emphasis on developing professionals capable of producing innovative, manufacturable and market-ready product designs, says Todd Kramer, associate dean of the School of Design and Engineering. “Elena’s win truly showcases our students’ ability to adapt the technical and industry-facing lessons learned through the industrial design program.”

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