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Adidas Plugs Upcycling and Customization at One-Day NYC Event

Adidas’ latest popup shop tapped into the conscious consumerism zeitgeist.

The brand hosted a one-day event in New York City Saturday focused on sustainable fashion. There, shoppers had access to one-of-a-kind vintage and upcycled collections from seven leading creatives including Basketball Gallery, Beepy Bella, Eva Joan Repair, Frankie Collective, Ji Won Choi, Theophilio and Tyranny & Mutation.

In an effort to promote the circular economy, items were available for purchase not in dollars, but for weight in preowned items consumers brought in. To purchase an item, shoppers had to trade-in used clothing, footwear or gear from any brand for points. For each half pound of textile waste turned in, participants were credited with one point redeemable toward up to two pieces from the creatives’ collections.

Vintage tees, hoodies and crewnecks were valued at 2-10 points and vintage sweatpants and skirts were 3-7 points. Footwear and accessories revamped by the designers were 5-10 points, while one-of-a-kind tees, hoodies and crewnecks were 7-10 points; sweatpants and skirts 10-12 points; and tracksuits and dresses 15 points. Items sold out in less than two hours.

Additionally, shoppers had the opportunity to customize the items they purchased with Eva Joan Repair.

“We’re excited to bring this activation to life to show consumers that there can be a different, more sustainable model for fashion,” said Katja Schreiber, Adidas SVP of sustainability.

The one-day event was part of the brand’s larger ThredUp-powered “Choose to Give Back” initiative available exclusively on the Adidas app which incentivizes consumers to donate unwanted clothing and footwear from any brand to be resold or reused. In return, consumers can earn 200 membership points and up to $40 worth of Adidas vouchers.

By the end of the day, Adidas collected nearly 2,500 pounds of textile waste, all of which will go on to live extended lives instead of ending up in a landfill.

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“Clothing waste is a mounting problem but facing it head-on and shifting towards a circular future will be our solution,” Schreiber said. “At Adidas, we see it as our responsibility to bring our consumers along on the journey and create awareness of how purchase choices—from opting for an upcycled shoe to donating end-of-life clothing—can make a huge impact.”

Recycling, upcycling, and unique and customized products tick off all the boxes for Gen Z consumers.

According to Piper Sandler’s “42nd Taking Stock With Teens” report published in October, 51 percent of teens have purchased and 62 percent have sold secondhand—four-point and seven-point increases, respectively, from the spring. The investment bank’s researchers again estimated that teens allocate 8 percent of their shopping time to resale. Additionally, more consumers are looking to secondhand apparel and accessories for holiday gifts this season.

For many of the participating designers, upcycling and recycling are also qualities that influence their day-to-day work. Each designer was given a selection of authenticated Adidas items and free rein to upcycle the goods into pieces that fit their actual brand ethos and aesthetic.

Shoppers gained access to one-of-a-kind, vintage and upcycled Adidas pieces from seven leading creatives by donating unwanted clothing.
Adidas Courtesy

Designer Ji Won Choi, who was featured on Amazon’s “Making the Cut” in 2020 and previously collaborated with Adidas on two capsule collections, said the brand’s signature three-stripes inspired the dress designs she made in Italy for the event. “I tried to make it a cohesive visual language with the graphics and stripes, and I used elements like zippers that were already existing but in a new way,” she told Sourcing Journal.

New York label Beepy Bella decked out sneakers and beanies with its signature use of vintage pendants, deadstock baubles and charms and other unused accoutrement. The label also added kitschy zipper pulls to classic Adidas track jackets. Frankie Collective creative director Sara Gourlay, known for curating vintage clothing with a modern twist, offered a 14-piece cut-and-sew collection including upcycled skirts, puffer vests, patchwork bucket hats, insulated coats and bags.

“We’ve always practiced sustainability within our brand ideals,” said Edvin Thompson, Theophilio designer and CDFA’s 2021 American Emerging Designer of the Year. “I’ve always worked with patchwork and deadstock fabrics, so it was really easy for me to experiment—pairing my design aesthetic with Adidas.”

For the event, the designer delivered a 10-piece collection of original patchwork hoodies, pants, crewnecks and T-shirts inspired by Adidas gear.

In fact, he likened the process with Adidas to the first collection he presented at New York Fashion Week in 2016. Though at the time he chose to use thrifted fabrics over new ones to “work within his means,” that decision evolved into a design philosophy that honors regenerated pieces made new and beautiful again.

“With fashion now, I think it’s so important for us to really aggressively combat warming and find ways to minimize our carbon footprint,” Thompson said.