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British designer creates world-first for Adidas with running shoe made of ocean plastic

#@Adidas Adidas have partnered with Parley for the Oceans to create the world’s first running shoe, with the upper made  entirely of ocean plastic.

Parley for the Oceans is a creative organisation committed to working with companies around the world to innovate  – with the aim of highlighting the crisis the world’s oceans are facing.

Their mission statement explains, “Our oceans are about to collapse and there is not much time to turn it around.  Nobody can solve this alone. Everyone has to be a part of the solution. And collaboration is the magic formula.”

The running shoe, designed by British innovation consultant and designer, Alexander Taylor is made with yarns  and filaments recycled from ocean waste, retrieved from marine activists on a poaching vessel hunt, off the  coastline of West Africa.

Alexander told Skip Hire Magazine, “Adidas asked me to be part of the project because of all the other similar production and design-based work that I’m doing. The initial collaboration was Adidas and Parley working together and then they asked me to do the shoes.

“I worked with Adidas on the primate shoe and knitting, as a technology, which was my first venture with them.”

“On the back of that, I now work on many projects in innovation and developing new technology and ways in which we can make products and start to think about the end-design, textiles, the making aspect of it and the way you have to cover the design and the aesthetics.

Innovation and using new advances in textiles from ocean plastic has been at the forefront of the sports brand’s mind for some time. Alexander continues, “It’s a new textile we’re working with at the moment. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been making things with that particular technology. The Parley one was an adaption of what we had already been working on and make it tell the story and interpret it to the cause.”

“You are governed by the material that you’re supplied with, with regards to the project coming together, such as the nets being turned into filament, which we received and had to adjust accordingly. We had a visual in mind of what the shoe should communicate, so I think that’s generally been part of the success of it really – that it doesn’t conform to something that has been seen before and is visually very different.

“It’s all part of the conversation. You know – where do you put the stripes? But, the big story with Adidas and Parley is them working together, being confident in what they’re producing and putting it out there and let the product do the talking.”

The prototype shoe was turned around in a very short space of time with the team working around the clock to be able to present the shoe at a UN Summit for a series of discussions on the future of the oceans. The audience learned of how the future of the oceans will reach a critical point if people don’t refrain from using plastic bottles and littering the seas. One of the highlights of the summit was the prototype revelation of the Adidas running shoe.

Alexander continues, “We got the call two weeks before the prototype was launched and was asked to work on something that would be presented at the UN in New York. At that point we were in a lot of conversations with the chemists, the guys supplying the gill nets and the machine technicians about putting a design together, the assembly and everything that was already going on internally at Adidas to hit the deadline.

“We were only able to do that because we’ve already been working on similar materials and technology, that we were able to adapt. It’s was an intense few weeks that’s for sure.

“It was presented and the whole summit was pretty awesome and the response has been incredible.

“Adidas have put down a commitment to Parley, using ocean plastic material and have a very clear plan to integrate it into footwear and have the shows ready for commercial launch for spring 2016.”

Alexander, who is a visiting professor in design at the ECAL in Lausanne, Switzerland and has taught at the Royal College of Art continues, “It’s great because it’s all come around very quickly, but at the same time it’s something that I’ve been preaching about for quite a few years now, and a lot of what I talk about is exactly this kind of project – that a designer’s role can be someone who is able to bring the pieces of the jigsaw together and that you should have an understanding of being able to work with chemists, scientists, the guys running the machines and also the guys that are selling the product at the end of the day.

“A designer’s role isn’t necessarily just about drawing the final object, it’s for someone to think of how the whole system goes together. This project was an indication of that in a large way, which I’m really happy about. For it to come out of the blue in that respect is overwhelming, but it’s absolutely in line with where I believe I’m going as a studio and what designers should be working to – making these kinds of projects come together.

“Then to have a company like Adidas put it out there and say ‘Yes, this is how we’re going to work’ – and also not just saying it, but producing it and having that commitment to it. We now just need more companies to put their neck on the line and do that.

“It’s been a huge education from a Parley aspect and from the state of the oceans, so from that side of things I’ve learnt an awful lot and it’s critical that we’re doing this type of project now.”

Founder of Parley for the Oceans said in a press release “At Parley for the Oceans, we want to establish the oceans as a fundamental part of the debate around climate change. Our objective is to boost public awareness and to inspire new collaborations that can contribute to protect and preserve the oceans. We are extremely proud that Adidas is joining us in this mission and is putting its creative force behind this partnership to show that it is possible to turn ocean plastic into something cool.”

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