The 22-year-old designer turns socks and cables into heels

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Blame William Shakespeare. At the start of confinement, it became an adage – then a joke, then a cliché – that since he wrote King Lear during the plague, we could also channel our isolation into creative energy. But some people have actually created life-changing feats of creativity during lockdown, including 22-year-old Tega Akinola. In early 2020, the British designer, then a sports psychology student, traveled to her parents’ home in the Midlands to self-quarantine. While cleaning her room, she came across a bag of broken cables. Before throwing it away, the flash drive caught his eye. “It reminded me of the buckle on a heel,” she says. “I bought a stub and literally stuck the cables on and it took off from there.”

Akinola posted the end result — a white heel with a USB ankle strap — on her Instagram in April. It was her third upcycled project that she had shown to her followers, who were used to Akinola’s sports photos. The first was a pointed-toe shoe covered with bits of Nike socks; the second was a mini bag, inspired by fellow inventive recycler Nicole McLaughlin, crafted from orange Patagonia fleece with the brand’s logo front and center. His followers loved them. “I had seen the trend of people using Nike socks to do different things, but it was normally clothes or different things,” says Akinola. “But I had never seen shoes or heels. At first, I was just cutting and pasting the thing. It was very conceptual rather than functional.

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