Adidas make a bold foray into the circular economy

It’s perhaps the biggest indication yet that sustainability has gone mainstream. Adidas has announced that in 2021 it will start selling Futurecraft Loop – a brand new high performance trainer for the new ‘circular economy’.

When a consumer believes their trainer has come to the end of its wearable cycle, they’ll simply send it back to be recycled into a new pair of Futurecraft Loops.

The concept has a way to go yet. Recycled materials will only be able to constitute 10% of the next generation Loop shoe – but it’s a huge step forward although not without significant challenges:

Engineering challenges: Average trainers are made of 12 distinct materials but to be recyclable they ideally need to be made from a single material – a tricky feat without compromising on all-important style and performance.

Pricing challenges: How will Adidas price up a shoe that they’ll effectively sell to a customer again and again?  One thing up for consideration is a subscription model.

Fulfilment challenges: Speedy, easy, green fulfilment is going to be vital to the success of this concept. At the moment the idea is that shoes will be sold with a return box and label with a free v 1.5 shoe sent out to the consumer to wear while they wait for their new Loop shoe.

Style challenges: Made without bleach the new shoes will naturally discolour over time – how will Adidas make that covetable to consumers used to loving the bling of new trainers?

What’s clear is that Adidas is open to embracing each of these challenges head on, to turn this vision into a reality with Paul Guadio, Global Creative Director stating: ‘These are not concept cars.  These are statements of intent. This is where we are going.’