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Today, adidas Originals has dropped four re-releases of their iconic shoes — a Stan Smith, a Superstar, a Continental 80, and a Supercourt — as “clean classics,” made in vegan leather with a 100 percent recycled lining, as well as multiple science experiments like an algae-based midsole on the Continental 80. And the drop checks a lot of boxes:
We love retros in a crispy white colorway.
We love multinationals repping for sustainability.
And we love any use of the recycling symbol because it’s one of the best logos out there.
But each shoe in the drop really touches the third rail with a pretty tragic detail on its heel: the words “This Shoe Will Not Save the Planet” written in edgy, Avril-Lavigne-album-cover-esque handwriting.
While we appreciate the spirit and understand what the brand is going for — a ballsy statement like the “This Tee Is Garbage” post that Noah did for their sustainable merch last year — it’s very clear most consumers who aren’t climate deniers that one recycled shoe won’t save the planet.
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This tee is garbage. Literally. The jersey is made up of the waste yarns from other cotton productions. But make no mistake about it, the end result is a high-quality cotton tee to rival any other. The weight, hand feel, and durability make this tee an instant modern classic. – We recognize that as a company, the decision to develop this tee is a drop in the ocean when it comes to solving the global environmental crisis. It’s genuinely irrelevant on its own. We as producers need to take the small steps of producing products differently and as consumers, we need to buy less things and keep them longer. If you don’t care about responsible consumption that’s OK too. You can rely on the fact that it will be one of the best basic tees you’ve ever owned. – Everywhere you turn these days, fashion brands are extolling the benefits of sustainability and recycled materials—and we’re no different. That said, we couldn’t be prouder of our recycled cotton tee. They’re hard-wearing, tough tees that can be washed over and over without losing their shape or density. They’re knitted and sewn in Los Angeles, a small step toward our goal of producing goods domestically. – Link in bio.
This bit of merchandising is a fable shows the complicated process of how streetwear culture will need to come to grips with what editor-at-large Christopher Morency described in an in-depth report on the subject as its “sustainability problem.” To start, there’s the very real and very dangerous problem itself. But then beyond this is the paradox of “raising awareness,” while also not tragically virtue signaling in a way that makes everyone look like a middle-aged lawyer at “protest brunch.”
So while we appreciate the direction, and even the missteps along the way, we’re going to need to ask these vegan shoes to calm down and say less.