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Low-carbon design: Adidas and Allbirds debut Futurecraft.Footprint sneaker

Sportswear giant Adidas and footwear & apparel company Allbirds have launched their Futurecraft.Footprint concept sneaker to the public. This marks the first commercial launch of the brands' collaborative concept shoe, initially revealed in May this year, moving it from a moonshot project to a realisation of low-carbon performance footwear made at scale.

Source: Supplied
Source: Supplied

At 2.94kg CO2e per pair, Futurecraft.Footprint represents a personal best for both brands as the result of a collective ambition to make a performance running shoe with as low of a carbon footprint as possible.

Now, with an initial limited drop this month available both online and in-store, Adidas and Allbirds are accelerating the race to a carbon-neutral future for sports and fashion, and are proving that low-carbon performance footwear can be scaled. An even wider release featuring four new colourways will follow launching in Spring 2022.


Open-source mindset can drive systemic change


Source: Supplied
Source: Supplied
In a shared statement, the brands said that Futurecraft.Footprint shows how quickly progress can be made by sharing innovations and collaborating with competitors – an example that has the power to encourage others to rethink business as usual.

Brian Grevy, executive board member global brands at Adidas said, “Our ambition is to take Futurecraft.Footprint from moonshot concept to something that sparks systemic change. We wanted to demonstrate how collaboration and an open-source mindset can create a halo effect across the industry and help make progress towards net zero.”

“We see the possibilities of collaboration and are able to bring expertise in manufacturing, for example – in 2015 we collaborated with Parley to produce a single concept shoe made using recycled ocean plastic, and by the end of 2020, 30 million pairs of these shoes had been made.

“Now, our sights are set on a 15% average CO2e footprint reduction on every product by 2025, and Futurecraft.Footprint is a major step forward for this ambition and our journey to create low carbon footwear at scale,” he added.

12-month innovation sprint


Both brands made significant learnings during the 12-month innovation sprint that led to the creation of the shoe. Teams across product design, material innovation, sustainability, and supply chain studied every component and all aspects of the process, reimagining materials, manufacturing techniques, and even packaging to reach the lowest possible footprint.

The design of the shoe itself centres around the overall philosophy of “the art of reduction” – giving runners exactly what they need and nothing more. A core part of this was considering pattern efficiency when creating the rolls of material that the individual pieces of the shoe are cut from.

The design teams took inspiration from what is known as the tangram principle, in treating the pieces of material like a tangram puzzle – fitting them perfectly together to minimise wastage, offering a saving on carbon emissions. This concept was applied to both the shoe’s upper and outsole for maximum impact.

Futurecraft.Footprint is also one of the lightest performance shoes Adidas and Allbirds have ever created – further saving on material usage and using only what’s needed, whilst keeping the performance integrity of the shoe, such as a carved-out midsole structure instead of a torsion bar.


Achieving more together


These learnings are laying the foundations for what will come next, with Adidas exploring low-carbon design and creation across a broader range of products, and Allbirds applying project insights and its dedication to engineering natural materials to its portfolio of performance and lifestyle products.

The companies said that it also paves the way for a new approach to collaboration in an industry that is usually prone to secrecy, giving other brands the permission to work together to find new solutions as well.

Tim Brown, cofounder and co-CEO at Allbirds, said, “Futurecraft.Footprint is an important reminder that we can achieve more together than we can separately, especially when it comes to the race against climate change. It's been incredible to see this go from a simple yet far-fetched idea of the world's lowest carbon footprint running shoe to a product that consumers can get their hands on in just two years – it's a testament to the power of collaboration in the face of a daunting challenge.

“We at Allbirds are on our own journey to cut our per-product carbon emissions by 95% by 2030, and the unrelenting focus both teams brought to Futurecraft.Footprint is exactly what we'll need to achieve this ambitious goal. But far beyond its impact for either of our brands, our hope is that this product can inspire others in the industry to rethink the way things have 'always' been done, and that specific learning from our development process can unlock carbon savings for their teams, as well."

The shoe is currently available in limited quantities on adidas.co.za as well as in the Adidas concept stores at Sandton City and V&A Waterfront.

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