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Editor's pick product sustainability

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.

Categories
Editor's pick product sustainability

Everlane pledges to go plastic-free by 2021

Everlane's ReNew line
Everlane’s ReNew line

Direct-to-consumer brand Everlane has committed to be completely free of virgin plastics by 2021.

To announce the launch, founder Michael Preysman, as well as Natalie Massenet and Nick Brown, who invested in the brand through their fund Imaginary Ventures, hosted a dinner in NYC on Tuesday (October 16), where guests were introduced to the brand’s new ReNew fleece, which is made from recycled plastic bottles.

“For me, whenever I see product that comes out that’s virgin [plastic], I think, these companies are actively choosing [to not recycle], to say money and profit is more important to us than doing the right thing for the environment,” Preysman told Vogue. “I think that has to change; I think that time is over.”

By 2021, all materials, including polyester and nylon, which are made from virgin plastic, will be made out of plastic water bottles and renewed materials, the brand has announced.

Preysman estimates that in the next five years, Everlane expects to use about 100 million water bottles through its system. He admits this is merely a humble contribution, as there are currently 500 billion water bottles produced every year.

This pledge furthers the brand’s commitment to the idea of “radical transparency” that has been at the heart of its business model since inception, from pricing to production practices. The overarching industry focus on reducing the use of plastics, however, comes with staggering numbers: according to Preysman, there are eight billion tons of plastic on the planet, which is roughly one ton per person.

Everlane's ReNew line
Everlane’s ReNew line

Before embarking on a sustainable plastics strategy, Preysman says the brand had to come to terms with the scale of how much it engages with the material across the supply chain: “We’re producing millions of units and every unit that goes out is wrapped in plastic. At the beginning, it was like, ‘Hey, let’s just take off all these plastic bags’. There are a lot of complications to that. Everything you buy in the world comes wrapped in plastic when it comes out of the factory.”

Realizing the impact of using plastics is also part of this journey too, he adds. “It’s a really convenient thing, but it’s actually incredibly damaging because once plastic is made, we use it for a second but it lasts forever.”

As the fight against plastic continues to pick up speed, brands across the spectrum – from smaller, DTC names to sportswear giants – are investigating different material innovations as replacements. Earlier this year at SXSW, adidas announced that by 2024, it will use only recycled ocean plastics; Reebok has recently launched a biodegradable shoe made with a cotton top and a bioplastic sole; and DTC sneaker brand Allbirds has launched a pair of flip flops made with a new material made out of sugar cane – of which the recipe is open source for other brands to tap into.

How are you thinking about material innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent 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.