At first glance, the shoe looks like seafoam green. Actually it’s white, with teal thread sewn about the upper in contoured rows, resembling lines on a topographic map. The thread comes from Parley for the Oceans, and it’s specifically, spun from plastic waste and old fishing nets gotten from the coast of Africa.
The company experimented with the idea last summer, but it wasn’t wearable. However, you could put it on, according to Alexander Taylor, an industrial designer who helps with Adidas’ special project.
However right now, Adidas is unveiling a limited edition collection of only 50 pairs of an improved version of the shoe that is up to the same standards as their other athletic wears. The upper part on the new design is entirely recycled plastic, which engulfs about 16.5 old bottles and 13 grams of plastic from gill nets for one shoe.
The only new material in the footwear is the thermoplastic polyurethane in the Adidas foam pellet Boost sole, which is mixed with biowaste-powered steam. Also, the shoe is quite comfortable and easy to run in.
Adidas is only producing 50 pairs, as spinning plastic ocean trash into high-performance fibers is difficult. The Adidas x Parley shoe is derived from two kinds of recycled plastic: PET, used most commonly for water bottles, and nylon from gill nets. PET is partly soft and easy to melt and reincarnate into fibers.
The gill nets, however, are hard and smelly. Gill nets are created for snaring fish by their gills, so used nets smell like rotting fish. But even after they are thoroughly cleaned, that’s just the start. Gill nets are gotten from a heavy duty nylon, thus, making the nets soft enough for athleticwear takes grinding the plastic into a powder and then extruding it, by a process that needed new partnerships with materials engineers from across the United States, Germany, and Asia.
This sort of partnership benefited Parley. Adidas is, obviously, a huge company that can afford more capital with new technologies and the connections to take on an issue like making tons of oceanic garbage into shiny, new apparel.