The concept shoe has an upper grown in a lab from mycelium – the spiderweb-like filament structure that fungi use to grow much like the roots of a tree.
Sheets of the material were grown over the course of two weeks and then tanned and dyed to create a mycelium leather called Mylo, which was originally unveiled by US biotechnology company Bolt Threads in 2018.
The material has now been refined in collaboration with Adidas to make it fit for its first application in high-performance footwear.
“By creating the iconic Stan Smith with a Mylo material upper, Adidas is demonstrating the far-reaching potential of this innovative material,” said Jamie Bainbridge, VP of Product at Bolt Threads.
“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.”
Last year, Adidas became part of a consortium of major brands, including Stella McCartney, Lululemon and Gucci’s parent company Kering, which have invested in Mylo in a bid to scale up the experimental material and make it available to consumers.
The ultimate aim is to mitigate the environmental impact of cowhide and its plastic substitutes by replacing them with a material, which Bolt Threads claims consumes fewer natural resources and emits fewer greenhouse gases in its production.
In March, McCartney unveiled a two-piece outfit made from Mylo but the Stan Smith Mylos mark the first time that the material has been used to create a pair of shoes.
Both designs are only concepts at this stage, as the material cannot yet be mass-produced, although Adidas has said that it plans to make a version of the trainers available for purchase “in the near future”.
“Stan Smith is one of our biggest and most iconic franchises, meaning we can scale the rollout of Mylo faster to create a more immediate and significant impact for the environment – with a commercially available proof of concept expected in the near future,” the company said.
Adidas has previously worked with Stella McCartney to create a completely vegan, leather-free version of the Stan Smiths and released a Primegreen version of the trainers made from 50 per cent recycled materials.
More than 50 per cent of all polyester used by the brand is currently recycled and by 2024, Adidas has promised to scale this up to 100 per cent.
“The introduction of Mylo as a new material is a major step forward in our bold ambition to help end plastic waste,” said Amy Jones Vaterlaus, global head of future at Adidas.
“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.”
Other brands that are betting on mycelium include French luxury house Hermès, which has partnered with biomaterials company MycoWorks to create an updated version of its Victoria shopper bag that will be available for purchase from the end of this year.
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