adidas x Parley: Running for the Oceans


At the start of the 20th century, mankind created an endlessly versatile, mouldable and indestructible material. Plastic would go on to revolutionise many aspects of modern life, and is used today in most elements of everyday life. But it has only been in more recent years that we’ve truly started to realise the tremendous flaw of using plastics: its indestructability. When plastics are dumped, they simply don’t go away.

Over one truck full of plastic is dumped in our oceans every minute. Plastic finishing lines, bottles, carrier bags and much more collect in huge swirling masses in the ocean, toxifying the ocean water and killing sea life. Many fish unwittingly feed on the plastics, and we eat the fish. We are feeding ourselves our own rubbish and the plastics we use are quite literally flowing through our bloodstreams. But more importantly, half of the oxygen available to us is produced by phytoplankton, a microscopic organism in the ocean. That means that every other breath we take is provided by the ocean. By littering the sea with dangerous plastics, we are quite literally posing a danger to the supply of oxygen that is the cornerstone of life on earth. As dramatic as that may sound, there is no escaping the facts.

Key Facts:

  • 99% of the biosphere is housed in the oceans.
  • Every second breath we take is generated by the oceans.
  • More than seven-tenths of Earth’s surface is blue.
  • We’ve explored less than 5% of the oceans.
  • Every minute, the equivalent of a dump truck of plastic enters the oceans.
  • By 2050, there may be more plastic than fish in our oceans by weight.
  • 12 people have walked on the moon. Only 3 have been to the deepest part of the ocean.
  • 90% of big fish species have disappeared since 1950.
  • The largest living structure on Earth is found in the oceans: The Great Barrier Reef.
  • Plastic is found in 90% of seabirds and more than half the world’s sea turtles.

How do we go about changing such a mammoth environmental issue? Firstly, we have to avoid plastics; from switching to re-usable metal bottles such as those created by S’well to eliminate the use of plastic bottles, to using non-plastic bags at the supermarket, we must find alternatives to plastic as often as possible. Secondly, we need to fish the plastics out of the ocean. And once we have, we need to find a use for them.

This is where adidas comes in. The world’s most influential sportswear brand has come up with an ambitious and ingenious idea for re-using this huge mass of plastic: what if the brand took the trash, and made a sports shoe out of it? And then made a million more, using 11 million plastic bottles pulled straight out of the ocean to do so? Thanks to a collaboration with Alexander Taylor Studio and Parley, adidas is today using one of the best innovations in footwear in recent memory to be able to create industry-leading footwear from recycled plastic bottles. The technology uses tailored fibre placement, a textile manufacturing technique that allows the brand to create yarn fibres out of recycled plastic bottles. And footwear is just the start; TFP will allow adidas to repurpose ocean plastics into everything from breathable running tees to mesh short lining, leading the way in eco-friendly manufacturing around the world.


The Parley Ocean Plastic Fibre

The adidas x Parley mission is today an integral part of the brand’s core values, with some of its collaborators also looking to the adidas x Parley fabric innovation as part of their collections. For Spring/Summer 2018, Stella McCartney once more collaborates with Parley for the Oceans to launch its new adidas by Stella McCartney Ultraboost, manufactured using Parley Ocean Plastic™ performance yarn made from recycled ocean plastics. A designer synonymous with cutting-edge performance wear, Stella’s use of Parley Ocean Plastic demonstrates how TFP is able to create industry-leading yarns without needing to sacrifice on performance. This season, the adidas by Stella McCartney range goes one step further with Parley and uses the Ocean Plastic yarn in a full range of products, from running rights to tank tops and jackets.


Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert