The sporting businesses have announced the commercial release of their new Futurecraft.Footprint performance sneaker, claiming that the lessons learned during development would pave the way for low-carbon design and creation across a wider range of products.
In May of this year, Adidas and Allbirds unveiled the Futurecraft.Footprint sneaker, which, at 2.94kg CO2e per pair, represents a personal best for both brands as the result of a shared goal to create a performance running shoe with the smallest possible carbon footprint.
The two are now figuring out how to scale the idea in order to speed up the crucial race to a carbon-free future for sports and fashion.
The project, according to Adidas and Allbirds, demonstrates how swiftly progress can be made by sharing inventions and partnering with competitors - an example that can inspire others to reconsider their business models. It is their goal to take Futurecraft.
Brian Grevy, executive board member Global Brands at Adidas, said that from a moonshot concept to a catalyst for systemic change, here is the footprint. They wanted to show how collaboration and an open-source approach can have a halo effect across the industry and help them get closer to net zero.
Grevy said that Adidas has a long history of collaborating closely with partners to scale breakthrough ideas. They realize the benefits of collaboration and can bring manufacturing knowledge to the table. For example, in 2015, they teamed with Parley to create a single concept shoe manufactured from recycled ocean plastic, and by the end of 2020, 30 million pairs of these shoes would have been produced. Now, They're aiming for a 15% average CO2e footprint reduction on all products by 2025, including Futurecraft. Footprint is a significant step forward in this goal and in our quest to mass-produce low-carbon footwear."
During the 12-month innovation sprint that led to the invention of the shoe, both brands learned a lot. To achieve the smallest feasible footprint, teams from product design, material innovation, sustainability, and supply chain evaluated every component and every element of the process, reinventing materials, manufacturing procedures, and even packaging.
The shoe's design is based on the "art of reduction" principle, which means giving runners precisely what they need and nothing more. When constructing the rolls of cloth from which the individual sections of the shoe are cut, one of the most important factors to consider was pattern efficiency.
The design teams were inspired by the tangram approach, which entails treating the material elements like tangram puzzle pieces, fitting them exactly together to minimize waste and reduce carbon emissions. For maximum effect, this concept was applied to both the upper and outsole of the shoe.
Futurecraft.Footprint is also one of Adidas and Allbirds' lightest performance shoes, conserving even more material while maintaining the shoe's performance integrity, such as a carved-out midsole structure instead of a torsion bar.
These lessons are laying the groundwork for what's next, with Adidas exploring low-carbon design and creation across a broader range of products and Allbirds applying project insights and its commitment to engineering natural materials to its portfolio of performance and lifestyle products, according to Adidas.
Tim Brown, co-founder and co-CEO at Allbirds, said that Futurecraft.Footprint serves as a timely reminder that they can accomplish more as a group than they can individually, particularly in the fight against climate change. In just two years, this project has gone from a simple but far-fetched vision of the world's lowest carbon footprint running shoe to a product that people can buy — it's a monument to the strength of teamwork in the face of a huge problem.
Brown said that they at Allbirds are on their own road to reduce their per-product carbon emissions by 95% by 2030, and both teams contributed unwavering concentration to Futurecraft. This ambitious aim will necessitate the use of Futurecraft.Footprint. But, beyond its influence on either of their businesses, they hope that this product will inspire others in the industry to reconsider how things have 'always' been done, and that particular learning from their development process will help other teams save carbon as well.
The newly created upper material is constructed of 77% recycled polyester and 23% natural Tencel - a substance made from wood pulp – for a smooth, lightweight top that meets performance standards while having a lower carbon footprint. Finally, the outsole is composed of 10% recycled rubber.
The sneaker will be available for a limited time on adidas.com, the Adidas and Allbirds apps, and select Adidas and Allbirds stores starting tomorrow (15 December). In spring 2022, a larger release containing four new colorways will be released.
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