“Ulterior Survival Bag” Turns Into Pair of Boots for Detroit’s Homeless

Ulterior Survival Bag, Mike Forbers, homelessness, Detroit, transformer shoes, transformer clothing, transformer fashion, multifunctional shoes, multifunctional clothing, multifunctional fashion, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, fashion philanthropy, eco-friendly shoes, sustainable shoes, eco-friendly bags, sustainable bags

Mike Forbes’s “Ulterior Survival Bag” is more than your average carryall. Designed for Detroit’s homeless population, the bag transforms into a pair of boots that protects against frostbite and other foot-related ailments in winter. Forbes is a graduate of the College for Creative Studies, where he took a class in design activism. (Stephen Schock, the professor, had a single instruction: design to fill a need.) Like his classmate Veronika Scott, who developed a sleeping bag that converts into a coat, Forbes chose to focus on the city’s 18,000 chronically destitute. “It is meant to provide the homeless with a better option than garbage bags, which they usually use to carry their stuff and cover their feet,” he told the New York Times.


The Ulterior Survival Bag, a finalist in the 2011 Industrial Designers Society of America Awards, comprises mostly repurposed materials. The base of the bag, which becomes the sole of the shoe when turned inside out, is made of recycled scrap rubber. Reclaimed wool blankets line the boot and supply warmth, while Tyvek insulation stores heat and repels moisture. For a drawstring that doubles as a shoelace, Forbes used rope made from recycled plastic bottles, anchored by grommets of recycled aluminum.

The base of the bag, which becomes the sole of the shoe when turned inside out, is made of recycled scrap rubber.

Forbes sees his invention’s potential for job creation, as well, particularly in these lean economic times. Taking a page from TOMS’ playbook, he envisions matching the purchase of each bag with a donation of two bags to someone affected by homelessness.

To fund the bag’s development, Forbes and a friend launched Anymile Clothing, a line of T-shirts that benefits local families in need. “Our profits will not be used strictly as a platform for our personal advancement up the economic ladder,” Forbes writes on the website. “We only profit if the area we live in sees a difference.”

+ Mike Forbes

[Via New York Times]

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