by Anmol AhujaMar 01, 2021
In the quest to find a more sustainable raw material, mycelium has become particularly common. As a popular green and renewable alternative to leather, larger fashion and lifestyle companies have become more receptive to these sustainable substitutes. Made of Mylo, Adidas' concept for the new Stan Smith Mylo sneakers signifies the latest leap in the sportswear giant's pledge towards sustainable products that are 'Made with Nature'.' The material is processed from mycelium, and features the classic Stan Smith silhouette, which has remained relatively unchanged since 1973. Adidas sought to craft a truly timeless, recyclable version of a shoe that has progressed from a trendy athletic accessory to an iconic object of fashion. Following its release of Stan Smith PRIMEGREEN with an upper made of 50 per cent recycled materials, the company is continuing to honour its commitment to the 'Regenerative Loop' creation process.
“The introduction of Mylo as a new material is a major step forward in our bold ambition to help end plastic waste,” says Amy Jones Vaterlaus, Adidas’ Global Head of Future. In developing Stan Smith Mylo, the German sportswear manufacturer collaborated with Bolt Threads, a biotechnological material solutions company devoted to developing textile manufacturing processes that benefit the human experience as well as the environment. They are the minds behind Mylo - a soft, supple substitute for leather made from mycelium. Consisting of a latticework of fibres found in the roots of mushrooms, it possesses sufficient strength to bind earth. Germinated using a revolutionary vertical farming technique, this particular mycelium requires less than two weeks to complete its growth cycle.
This method replicates the organic processes occurring beneath forest floors within a controlled indoor setting. At first, sawdust and organic material are fed to spores of mycelia cells within an environment that regulates temperature, humidity, and other conditions. A foamy layer resembling squished marshmallows then grows in this space-efficient system generating a high yield per square foot, which is subsequently harvested, processed, and dyed to create sheets of Mylo while byproducts are used in composting. Mylo's versatility allows it to adopt practically any finish, emboss or colour.
Vaterlaus explains, "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”. By re-envisioning an eco-friendly version of the archetypal Stan Smith sneaker design - named after the famous American tennis player, Adidas is further solidifying their claim as one of the most sustainable footwear franchises and displaying its dedication to environmentally conscious business practices. The outer upper, heel tab overlay, premium branding, and emblematic perforated three stripes are all made of Mylo, while natural rubber is used in the midsole as part of Adidas' vision for a eco-friendly future.
"By creating the iconic Stan Smith with a Mylo material upper, Adidas is demonstrating the far-reaching potential of this innovative material," emphasised Jamie Bainbridge, VP of Product at Bolt Threads. She added, "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”.
A consortium of designers collaborating with Bolt Threads, including Adidas, Kering, Lululemon, and Stella McCartney, are working towards devising implementations for Mylo that alleviate the negative environmental impacts in the manufacturing and processing of leather. Through their collaboration, Adidas and Bolt Threads hope to demonstrate their vow towards a more sustainable future by investing in innovative material and design solutions that do not compromise the well-being of our planet. While currently not available for purchase, a proof of concept for the Stan Smith Mylo is anticipated in the near future.
(Text by Jerry Joe Elengical, intern at STIRworld.com)