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Adidas’ global creative director reveals how the brand’s new recyclable shoes could completely change the way footwear is sold

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Adidas’ global creative director reveals how the brand’s new recyclable shoes could completely change the way footwear is sold
  • Adidas has created a shoe that is 100% recyclable and can be broken down and remade into new shoes.
  • This new process of creation and renewal requires a complete rethinking of how shoes will be sold in the future, according to Adidas’ global creative director, Paul Gaudio.
  • There could be a future where customers don’t own these shoes at all, instead paying to rent them with the promise of getting new shoes as part of a subscription.

Adidas is closing the loop and creating new opportunities.

On Wednesday, the sportswear giant revealed a new shoe called the Futurecraft Loop. The shoe is designed to be the first 100% recyclable shoe ever created for the mass market, and it’s made from one single material: thermoplastic polyurethane.

Adidas primarily touted the environmental benefits of this process. The shoes could theoretically be remade with the same components once the process is in place to do so.

The company is hailing the Futurecraft Loop as a landmark for environmentalism, keeping virgin plastic out of the supply stream while also producing the high-performance footwear that customers expect from the company.

Read more: Adidas is creating the world’s first fully recyclable sneaker that anyone can buy

But a shoe that can be remade with the same components requires a complete rethinking of how shoes are sold in the first place, according to Adidas’ global creative director, Paul Gaudio.

Adidas

“This gets at changing the way we interact with consumers, changing the way we do business in the future. It could impact our business model. [It] certainly challenges the transactional notion of: ‘I buy your shoe, and now I own it.’ Maybe you don’t own it … maybe you rent them,” Gaudio said.

It’s the second half to the story that starts with Futurecraft Loop, he added.

“That’s what I get really excited about,” he said. “It allows us to question so much.”

Adidas has now proven it can create a shoe from one material, and it’s targeting 2021 for a wider release. Gaudio said he hopes the recyclable shoes will take a path similar to Adidas’ initiative with Parley for the Oceans, which uses recycled ocean plastic in shoes instead of virgin plastic.

Adidas says it will produce 11 million shoes made with ocean plastic in 2019. Unlike in years past, the shoes will not be found only in a discrete collection, but throughout Adidas’ offerings.

For now, the Futurecraft Loop is in beta mode. The company will test improvements to the shoe and think up ways to get them into customers’ hands — and then out of them again.

Gaudio said that Adidas’ sustainability initiatives aren’t just about charity.

Younger generations “expect us to do something,” he said. “We should. We have to. We have that ability. And it’s not philanthropy, it’s good for business, and it will increasingly be mandatory for business.”

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