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Adidas’ latest decision could influence entire fashion industry

By Natalia Popova


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German sporting goods firm Adidas AG recently announced its decision to use only recycled plastics by 2024 for shoes and clothing. This initiative could be the first step for the entire fashion industry to work together to solve ecological problems, says Alexandra Kaloschina, founder of the Russian textile company Solstudio Textile Group.

Adidas plans to discontinue the use of so-called primary plastic, which includes among others synthetic polyester fibers, also known as polyesters. This material is used in virtually all of the manufacturer's products - from t-shirts to sports tops. However, Adidas’ new styles of the spring/ summer 2019 collection will contain 41 percent recycled polyester. This way, the company participates in the international fight against plastic on the one hand and in the race for the most competitive products on the other.

Photo: Adidas x Wanderlust

Adidas’ pledge could be the beginning of a far-reaching environmental movement

At different times, Nike, G-Star, Starbucks and McDonald's, Patagonia and H&M, Timberland and Reebok also announced that they would be using polyester made of recycled fibers. However, the fashion companies did not mention a specific date. Stella McCartney was more specific when the company declared not wanting to use primary nylon anymore starting from 2020. “Therefore, Adidas’ recent statement probably marks the beginning of a really big movement as the company produces 920 million footwear and apparel items, and most of the materials used are polyester. This news is forcing many companies to participate in using recycled materials, which is one of the primary demands of the circular economy of our times,” said Alexandro Kaloschina, founder of the Solstudio Textile Group, when talking to FashionUnited.

In Adidas’ case, the point is not to completely renounce polyester but to stop using so-called primary polyester and replace it with materials that have the same characteristics as recycled plastic or textile materials, the expert explained.

“The problem with making fabric from recycled materials is that it's up to 20 percent more expensive than primary polyester fibers. But the more companies participate in the process, the quicker you can find cheap ways to collect, clean, and recycle the materials,” emphasized Kaloschina. “Another problem of the recycled materials sector is that it is still small compared to the primary polyester industry and that it depends on many factors, such as the drop in oil prices, which makes primary materials even cheaper.”

However, Adidas’ latest step towards using recycled materials is not its first. Already in 2012, the company supplied sportswear made out of recycled plastic bottles to volunteers at the London Olympics, and in 2016, Adidas presented shoes that are now sold together with clothes made of 100 percent recycled polyester.

Photo: Adidas x Parley

Adidas expects an increase in sales for its sneaker collaboration with Parley, which is made from recycled ocean plastic waste. Despite the fact that these sneaker models still only account for a small percentage of the company's revenues, experts expect to sell as many as 5 million pairs this year. Last year, 1 million pairs were sold.

“Not all countries have companies that are processing secondary materials, and in addition, the entire fast fashion industry is using materials that are degrading extremely slowly, which is one of the main problems facing the fashion industry in terms of ecology and sustainability," Kaloschina concludes. “Even the largest companies cannot solve this problem alone. We hope that this pledge will be a step towards collective action.”

Solstudio Textile Group is a Russian group of companies consisting of four business units: a studio for textile design and one for textile printing, a separate accessories brand and one for the sale of fabrics. The company has been around for almost 20 years.

This article was originally written for FashionUnited.de. Translated and Edited by Simone Preuss

Photos: Adidas

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