The Adidas new prototype featuring a 3-D printed sole.

SOLE SEARCHING: Adidas and Parley for the Oceans are building on their partnership for sustainability.

Coinciding with the Paris climate summit (COP21), the German activewear brand and the nongovernmental organization have unveiled a prototype featuring a midsole which is 3-D-printed and which uses recycled polyester as well as gill nets, while its upper is made with ocean plastic.

“It’s very exciting what we can do just by getting involved since April,” Eric Liedtke, Adidas Group executive board member responsible for global brands, told WWD prior to a joint conference held Tuesday morning at Les Bains Hotel in Paris.

“As far as commercial timing, we don’t know about that yet. It’s more a statement of intent of what we hope to do and a challenge for us to make it,” Liedtke explained.

Is it possible to produce the shoe on a large scale? “That’s the dream. We haven’t figured everything out yet but we continue to move forward,” he said.

Liedtke said Adidas is to bring the first prototype of a shoe that was unveiled in June at the United Nations to the market in April. Boasting an upper made from yarns and filaments reclaimed from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gill nets, the style is to hit about 1,000 Adidas select doors.

Other initiatives taken by the Adidas Group include the phasing out of plastic bags in its retail stores, which is be completed by the end of April  (Lietked noted that it represents some 28 million plastic bags) as well as end the use of plastic micro-beads across all its body-care products by year end, a move initiated together with its beauty licensee Coty Inc.

“We have to reinvent plastic and create new product concepts,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans.

Gutsch explained how the NGO managed to “turn ocean plastic debris into premium material…It was the re-branding of a problem…We created a market for ocean plastic.”

Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and Jean-Pierre Marois, owner of Les Bains, a new partner of Parley for the Oceans, were among the speakers.

Watson wasn’t optimistic regarding the current negotiations: “COP21 is focusing international attention, giving credibility to the issue. But you don’t get 165 countries to agree on anything, never have, never will. This is called COP21; there were 20 other failures before. The solutions are things people don’t want to hear.”

“Today, sustainability is the biggest commitment,” said Marois.

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