These Adidas shoes are biodegradable

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These Adidas kicks are woven from Biosteel fiber, a material designed to replicate spider silk that was developed by a German biotech company. The material is lighter than other synthetic materials and is quite strong. It’s also, perhaps most notably, 100 percent naturally biodegradable.

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Fittingly unveiled at the BIOFABRICATE conference held at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, the concept shoes were born out of the same drive toward increased sustainability that recently gave birth to the limited edition Parley shoes, which were created using 95 percent ocean waste. That line was limited to 7,000 shoes in its first run, with a larger run version arriving next year.

 

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VP James Carnes took to the stage at the event to outline the company’s partnership with Munich-based biotech company AMSilk, the latest entry in Adidas’s forward-looking Futurecraft line. The shoes, while still prototypes, are an attempt to reach the next level of sustainability, moving beyond recycled material to a human-created material that can go back into the Earth.

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“In Germany, the idea of organic food is a bit of a mystery, so the idea of being environmentally friends and sustainable is also natural,” the executive told the crowd. “We thought we needed to do something that has a great impact on the world.”

The material is a sort of biomimicry inspired by spider silk. The Biosteel yarn is created using natural carbon sources that are fermented and converted into a white powder. It’s already been rolled out in a number of forms for medical serves like implants and surgical meshes and has been utilized for beauty products. The company’s third division is focused on textiles, which is where Adidas comes in.

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The spider-inspired fabric is 100 percent biodegradable and bio-sourced. And, unlike other materials used in shoe production (see: leather), it’s completely vegan. After the presentation, the company pulled the curtain back to reveal the shoes with a bit of theatrical flair. The sneakers retain a similar aesthetic as their predecessors in the Futurecraft line.

The protein-based Biosteel yarn forms a knitted top — a beige color, in the case of the shoes on display — that’s met at the bottom by large textured white soles. The material itself is hard to distinguish from other synthetic yarns at first glance and touch. It’s flexible and has a good amount of give, which should make for a decent running shoe, particularly when coupled with its tensile strength and breathability offered by the porous structure.

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The shoes will be available at some point in 2017. No word on pricing, but we’ll likely see a rollout similar to the one Adidas put in place with Parley, offering them up at a pricey limited edition, with a more mainstream version arriving later. They will be produced at the Speed Factories the company has been opening in the U.S. and Europe.