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 to most consumers who aren’t climate deniers that one recycled shoe won’t save the planet.
This bit of merchandising is a fable that shows the complicated process of how streetwear culture will need to come to grips with what editorial director 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.”
Luckily for us — and anyone else that wants to rep more sustainable footwear — adidas has also released versions of each of the sneakers without the slogan. Dubbed the “fashion” pack, the sneakers are made of the same recycled and sustainability-focused materials and have the same classic, all-white aesthetic — all without saying too much.
So adidas, we appreciate the direction, and even the missteps along the way, but if you’re asking us, you could have just left it at the logo-less Fashion pack.