At UN x Parley, creators, thinkers and leaders from the worlds of fashion, art, design, science and environmentalism gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York for Parley Talks titled, “Oceans. Climate. Life.”

Part of the event was the presentation of an unprecedented collaboration: adidas Group announced a long term partnership with Parley for the Oceans. The alliance highlights an important and necessary turning point in the environmental movement, one that changes the way major industry players, policy makers and consumers understand and approach climate change solutions.



"We at adidas didn't partner with Parley to take incremental small steps. We partnered with Parley to make big bold steps, to fix big global problems."

Eric Liedtke, Executive Board Member, Global Brands, adidas Group



In a small press gathering before the talks, Parley founder Cyrill Gutsch and Eric Liedtke, adidas Group Executive Board Member of Global Brands, discussed the significance of this partnership and showcased a prototype of our first collaborative innovation: a concept shoe made from reclaimed ocean plastic waste. The Ultra Boost prototype has an upper made of yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets. The gillnets were once used in poaching operations exploiting vulnerable toothfish species in the Southern Ocean. Known as the “white gold” of the deep sea, a single 1,500 ton toothfish catch can pull in $US 83 million for illegal fishing vessels.

Parley partner Sea Shepherd retrieved over 72 km of illegal gillnet and fishing line during Operation Icefish, a record-breaking campaign to stop the “Bandit 6” poaching vessels plundering under-patrolled, remote waters. The nets were abandoned by the notorious poaching vessel Thunder, which was later intentionally scuttled by its captain off the coast of West Africa following a 110-day chase by Sea Shepherd vessels the M/V Bob Barker and M/Y Sam Simon.

It’s estimated that lost and discarded gillnets, known as ghost nets, are responsible for more than 100,000 marine mammal deaths every year. They are the silent killers of the sea, wreaking havoc on underwater habitats and destroying delicate balances within the ecosystems that sustain this planet.

It took crew onboard the Sam Simon four weeks to remove the netting from the Southern Ocean. In the process, they returned thousands of toothfish and other bycatch to the sea. Captain Siddarth Chakravarty shared the incredible story at UN x Parley. He later took the stage with adidas x Parley collaborators to introduce one way these nets will find new life on land.

The adidas x Parley concept shoe was made in just six days in close collaboration with Sea Shepherd and supported by green chemist John Warner (WBI) and material innovator Bionic Yarn. The prototype shoe illustrates our joint commitment to protecting and conserving the oceans, and offers a first look at the kind of products adidas will bring to market in 2016 in partnership with Parley.   


"It takes a lot of courage for a company of this size to commit to our cause and to dive in as adidas has. The vision is to work as one team, to have a highly collaborative working relationship where both organizations bring in their ideas, knowledge and network. This creates incredible potential to bring the fight against plastic pollution into a whole new dimension. "

Cyrill Gutsch, Founder, Parley for the Oceans



As award-winning green chemist John Warner stressed in his UN x Parley presentation, no one is exempt from the responsibility to explore, develop and implement solutions. Whether or note we're willing to admit it, we all had a hand in creating these issues. Now each and every one of us has no choice but to do everything in our power to help counter the threats. We all have something to bring to the table — and the more we compare notes and blend diverse areas of expertise, the more comprehensive and effective solutions will be.

Through innovation, science, exploration, design and communications, the creative industries can reshape reality and alter this disastrous course we've followed for far too long. Our partnership with adidas is a testament to the potential and absolute necessity of these collaborations.

The concept Ultra Boost is only the beginning. It’s not just an attention-getting shoe made of literal ocean garbage, it’s a symbol of the power of creative collaborations. Anything is possible when we work together for a common cause. The adidas x Parley prototype was featured in the Brooklyn Museum exhibition: The Rise of Sneaker Culture

There is no one-stop solution for sustainability (nor is there some magic, ocean-healing shoe), but when we join forces, progress is possible. At a time when doom-and-gloom headlines dominate the media, it's imperative that we recognize and celebrate positive steps in the right direction. We look forward to continuing on this adidas x Parley journey in the months ahead, and to building a new approach to environmental stewardship along the way. Good things are in store — and coming to stores in 2016. Stay tuned. 




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