Rivals Adidas and Allbirds Team Up for a Low-Impact Sneaker to Change the Game


Adidas and Allbirds have been running the sneaker race together, side-by-side as competitors, for a number of years. That’s why in 2020, when the two labels announced they’d be joining forces in a sustainable partnership to meet their shared eco goals, the fashion industry was surprised — but pleasantly, of course.

With NZ label Allbirds’ innovations and Adidas’ commanding presence in the industry, the two companies teamed up to forge a unique partnership, opening up their materials, supply chains and technologies to each other.

Now, some 18 months later, Adidas and Allbirds have revealed the product of their collaboration: the FUTURECRAFT.FOOTPRINT sneaker – a running shoe with a carbon footprint of just 2.94kg CO2e per pair.

For context, Adidas’ current lowest footprint running shoe, the Adizero RC3, has an impact of 7.86kg CO2 a pair, making the FUTURECRAFT.FOOTPRINT sneaker a whole 63% lower.

They achieved this through a new approach to sustainable design and an alternative method of manufacturing that drastically reduces carbon impact. The carbon count of the shoe doesn’t just take into account its production either, but rather supply chain emissions, customer use, and end-of-life emissions.

Adidas x Allbirds

“Our partnership with Allbirds is a beacon of what can happen when competing brands from the same industry see the possibilities in coming together to design,” said Brian Grevy, executive board member of global brands at Adidas.

“By truly co-creating and providing each other with open access to knowledge and resources – such as Allbirds’ knowledge of carbon calculation and experience with natural materials, and Adidas’ capabilities in manufacturing and performance footwear – this is a call-to-action for other brands, and a milestone in the sports industry achieving carbon neutrality.”

Tim Brown, co-founder and co-CEO at Allbirds added: “We believe that the challenge of solving climate change is the problem of our generation and solving it will not be done alone. We need to find new business models, new innovations and new ways of working together.

“Our partnership with Adidas is an example of that. Over the past year, our two teams have raced as one to create a shoe as close to zero carbon emissions as we could possibly achieve. The results are an exciting step forward, and hopefully, an example for others to follow.”

Adidas x Allbirds

The shoe itself is designed for performance, though uses modern, low-impact technologies in the application of more traditional materials with a much larger footprint. The sole is crafted from Allbirds’ sugarcane-based SweetFoam, and the upper material is made from 70% recycled polyester and 30% natural Tencel – a material made from Eucalyptus wood pulp.

“With this project, less really was more. To keep minimalist not only in materials but also in construction, we went to extremes and left only what we really needed on the shoe to keep the performance properties,” said Florence Rohart, senior footwear designer at Adidas.

FUTURECRAFT.FOOTPRINT will have an initial launch in May 2021 with a raffle of 100 pairs available to Adidas Creators Club members. A release limited to 10,000 pairs will follow before the sneakers become more widely available in 2022.

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