Adidas on spreading its sustainable message through creativity and collaboration

Adidas is using creativity and collaboration to create awareness on sustainability and “find a way out of this mess”, says Matthias Amm, product category director for global running at the brand.

Speaking at the Drapers Sustainable Fashion conference in London last week, the exec outlined the many ways in which the brand is educating both consumers and its own ambassadors on its mission towards a more sustainable supply chain, largely influenced by its partnership with Parley for the Oceans.

Since it began working with the NY-based non-profit, adidas has adopted its AIR concept – to avoid, intercept and redesign. It is avoiding the use of plastics not only throughout their supply chain, but even by banning plastic bottles in its offices and factories; it is intercepting plastic waste going into the ocean by using it as the raw material for its shoes and clothing; lastly, its biggest focus is on how to redesign future products where the use of plastic doesn’t even come into consideration in the design process. 

Educating consumers on its long-term mission is key to its success, he says. Since announcing its first product with Parley in 2015, a shoe made out of recycled plastics recovered from the oceans, it has embarked on a series of initiatives that aim to bring further awareness to plastic waste. 

With adidas’s support and funding, Parley is running an educational series under the Parley Ocean School program that aims to get young people more informed on the marine environment and how to deal with plastics accordingly. For example children growing up in the Maldives, he says, see plastic polluting the ocean as a normal occurrence, so the end goal is to help shape these young consumers into the eco ambassadors of tomorrow. 

Real Madrid player Marcelo promoting the team’s recycled ocean plastic kit

Engaging with its own athletes and gaining their support to help spread the message is another approach. It has designed sports gear and football kits for major international team such as Real Madrid and Juventus made entirely of thread consisting of ocean plastics, while often enlisting its own athletes to participate in campaigns and Parley-focused events.

Speaking at an adidas x Parley event last year, Ian Thorpe, swimmer and Australian Olympic gold medalist, said: “Growing up in Sydney, the oceans have always been a big part of my life. It’s incredible to see that adidas are taking such significant and positive steps in helping everyone fight marine plastic pollution. Together, we can protect the future of our oceans for everyone to enjoy.”

Its most consumer-facing event under the strategy, however, is the yearly Run for the Oceans event. Happening at major cities across the globe, from São Paulo to Shanghai, it aims to get people running in order to raise awareness about ocean plastic, marine wildlife, pollution, overfishing and other issues that Parley stands behind. Last year, almost one million runners joined in, and adidas matched the first million kilometres run with $1/km in funding towards the Parley Ocean School program.

How are you thinking about your sustainability strategy? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.