Stan Smiths, Adidas, footwear, sustainability, leather

Stan Smiths are getting an eco-makeover.

For a concept shoe coming later this year, Adidas is tapping mycelium-based Mylo, a natural material innovation derived from mushrooms produced by biotechnology company Bolt Threads.

Mylo recreates mycelium root in a lab process mixing it with organic matter and sawdust to improve efficiency. It takes less than two weeks to grow and, once complete, can be dyed, crafted and stitched like a leather.

“The introduction of Mylo as a new material is a major step forward in our bold ambition to help End Plastic Waste,” said Amy Jones Vaterlaus, global head of future at Adidas, at a press event held last week. “As a planet, we must learn to work with nature rather than against it and put all our efforts into finding innovative solutions that are created responsibly with resources that renew at a sustainable pace. Designed in synergy with earth’s ecosystems. And as a brand, we continue to explore the possibilities in material innovation.”

The concept shoe speaks to broader ambitions at Adidas.

Adidas, Stan Smith, Sustainability, Mylo

Breakdown of the Stan Smith Mylo concept shoe.  Courtesy

In its initiative to End Plastic Waste, Adidas made progress at the end of 2020 with more than 50 percent of the polyester it used being recycled. By 2024, its aim is to have only 100 percent recycled polyester used in products where a solution exists. The company also plans to cut its carbon footprint 30 percent by 2030 (compared to 2017) and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Adidas joins the likes of Stella McCartney, Lululemon and Kering in exclusive access to Mylo via a never-before-seen joint consortium for consumer biomaterials.

More commercial projects are expected to roll out this year as one of the key aspects to using natural materials in the creation process is to ensure robust supply. As one of the largest and most storied franchises under Adidas, Stan Smith Mylo, the company believes, is a crucial step toward decarbonizing materials at scale.

“By creating the iconic Stan Smith with a Mylo material upper, Adidas is demonstrating the far-reaching potential of this innovative material,” said Jamie Bainbridge, vice president of product at Bolt Threads. “We are thrilled to be working with Adidas in the kind of development partnership that makes innovation a reality. Mylo has the strength and performance it does today thanks to the guidance and deep technical expertise of the Adidas team in making great footwear.”

Adidas expects a commercially available proof of concept in the near future, starting with a limited initial release of Stan Smith Mylo in the next 12 months. Pricing is expected to be in line with similar products in the category. After scaling up wider releases, the plan is to integrate Mylo into other Adidas products and franchises.

“Products made with nature that can regrow or be refabricated is the next focus for exploration in our long-term innovation strategy to end plastic waste, and it is this focus that drives our approach,” said David Quass, global director of brand sustainability at Adidas.

Of course, many traditional footwear components throw a dent into reduced plastic aims — including long-utilized synthetic coatings and glues.

The team offered more insight as development is underway. “As Stan Smith Mylo is a concept shoe we are still in the process of testing options on glues before its commercial release,” a brand spokesperson said.

For More, See:

Stella McCartney Teams With Bolt Threads on Fungi-Based Fabric, Mylo