Dec 13, 2021

adidas and Allbirds: From Competitors to Co-Creators

Find out why adidas and Allbirds came together to form a partnership few would have ever imagined – and see what came about as a result of it.
by Julia Theileneditor

What is the world we leave behind? This is the question that marked the beginning of this story. We want to create products that are both best for the athlete and the planet.

On June 1 2020 we revealed our partnership with Allbirds, putting our competition aside and teaming up to achieve the impossible together: To create a performance running shoe with our lowest ever carbon footprint.

On May 12, 2021 – a little under a year later – we shared the first results of our open-source co-creation: the prototype for a running shoe with a footprint that fits our planet.

Remarkably, just over half a year later, in December of 2021, a limited run of the shoe was commercially released. In April 2022 – less than a year after the prototype was created – the shoe that takes 2.94 kg CO2 per pair to make will be available at volume.

Taking an open-source approach to sustainable innovation 

We take our responsibility to create a more sustainable world incredibly seriously. And at both adidas and Allbirds, we both realized that if you’re going to walk the talk, you cannot do it alone. You need to partner up.

adidas has been creating high performing running shoes for decades. We are well versed in dealing with a variety of materials and rigorously testing them to ensure the very best for the athlete. Traditionally, we design and create our products with an eye on both aesthetics and performance.

Allbirds inspired us to forget what we knew and change our design mindset. To create a shoe with our lowest ever carbon footprint, we started with the ingredients, rather than the aesthetic end vision. We harnessed natural materials and designed with a clear focus on getting the carbon footprint as low as possible. The low carbon design drove the aesthetic.

“Our ambition is to take FUTURECRAFT.FOOTPRINT from moonshot concept to something that sparks systemic change,” said Brian Grevy, Executive Board Member of Global Brands at adidas. “We wanted to demonstrate how collaboration and an open-source mindset can create a halo effect across the industry and help make progress towards net zero.”

"Our north star was – and still is – to get to zero: To create a performance running shoe with zero carbon emissions. A truly scalable and sustainable product."

On our journey to get there, both adidas and Allbirds have given each other open access to knowledge, ideas and resources. And we’ve collaborated on every step of the way.  

Every step of the journey paid detailed attention to reducing the shoe's carbon footprint.

In only twelve months, the prototype was created. We saw the power of sustainable innovation and open-source collaboration come to life. Measured against a comparable shoe – the adizero RC3 which has a carbon footprint of 7.86kg CO2e – this latest endeavor came in just below 3kg.

"Creating scalable sustainable products can be done, and it can be done quickly."

Revealing our full story for others to follow 

Our ambition is to create a blueprint for the footwear industry, and we want to enable others to reduce their carbon footprint as well. So, contrary to convention, when we launched the FUTURECRAFT.FOOTPRINT running shoe in May 2021 we told the public exactly how we made it. We want others to follow.

While sustainability has been central to the creation of the shoe, the FUTURECRAFT.FOOTPRINT is still firmly focused on performance.

As proud as we are of what we have achieved so far, we are not there yet. But we are encouraged by the progress we’ve made so far, and in such a short period of time. We’ve learned that as a team, we can reduce our carbon footprint and make a positive impact on our environment, while also boosting athletes’ performance.

"We’ve learned that as a team, we can reduce our carbon footprint and make a positive impact on our environment."

“FUTURECRAFT.FOOTPRINT is an important reminder that we can achieve more together than we can separately, especially when it comes to the race against climate change,” says Tim Brown, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Allbirds. “It’s been incredible to see this go from a simple yet far-fetched idea of the world’s lowest carbon footprint running shoe to a product that consumers can get their hands on in just two years – it’s a testament to the power of collaboration in the face of a daunting challenge.”

We do know that there’s a lot more work to be done. This is just the beginning, and now, we go again. We won’t rest until everything we make is made to fit the planet.

THE ADIDAS SUSTAINABILITY STORY – LEADING THE CHANGE

How adidas is driving innovative sustainable solutions designed to transform our industry and our planet.

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