The pollution problem in China is so severe that 1.6 million people in the country die each year because of air pollution. So that’s why you see many people in the country donning smog masks when they go out in public.

Runners can be particularly impacted by pollution in China. But now, they have a stylish new accessory to go with the rest of their running gear.

Beijing-based designer Zhijun Wang makes anti-pollution masks out of repurposed running shoes. The masks come in many different colors and styles, but still have the functionality of a regular smog mask.

It might seem strange to consider something like a smog mask as stylish or fashionable. But due to the pollution levels, they’re one of the most common accessories worn around China, especially by runners. So making something that looks a little brighter and goes with that athletic look actually makes a ton of sense.

Innovative Product Design Can Turn Everyday Items Into Gold

There are all kinds of opportunities like this for businesses to put a new spin on something unexpected. It doesn’t have to be fashion related. But if you can find something that consumers use a lot — either because they have to or because they want to — and then add your own touch to it, you could very well find a unique niche like this one.

Smog Mask Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Beijing Designer Puts a Stylish New Spin on Smog Masks (Watch)” was first published on Small Business Trends