Mushrooms have been trending for a while now, appearing on menus, lamps, and even coffins. Thanks to Adidas’ sustainability efforts, the fungi are also now being used to create more eco-friendly Stan Smith sneakers. Dubbed the “Mylo” Stan Smith, the shoes are crafted from “Unleather,” a material made from the root structure of mushrooms, and a “commercially available proof of concept” should be coming to Adidas’ site in the near future.
For 20 years, the sportswear giant has been listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as a leader in the environmental space, thanks to a slew of eco-conscious streetwear designs. But as of late, most of those designs seem to revolve around the Stan Smith sneaker — a classic basic that’s teetering on boring at this point. With Adidas dropping over 50 recycled iterations of the shoe, the silhouette feels repetitive.
Of course, we’re all for Adidas’ use of recycled and sustainable materials — but we’d also like to see those elements applied to other silhouettes. Unless you’re actually Stan Smith, there’s no reason you would need that many versions of the model.
From sportswear to sporeswear — The new mushroom iteration of the sneaker does slightly alter its signature design, though. Retaining a classic white upper, the Mylo Stan Smith trades out its green heel pad for a lighter cream one, while the shoe’s sole has been switched from a white to a translucent brown. Gold “Mylo” branding also replaces Adidas’ usual logo on the heel tab, a mark that nods to another company that helped create the sneaker.
Unlike other Adidas models, the Mylo Stan Smith was not crafted at the German company’s headquarters. Instead, the brand enlisted the aid of startup Bolt Threads, a biotechnology company developing alternative materials to silk and leather. Bolt Threads’ Mylo-branded “Unleather,” used to create the sustainable sneaker, is said to feel and look just like leather — but requires far fewer raw materials and energy to produce. Adidas says the “Unleather” can take on any color, finish, or emboss.
How it works — Bolt Threads’ “Unleather” is made of mycelium, and is created using a highly efficient grow process, taking less than two weeks to grow. The process takes advantage of a cutting-edge vertical agriculture technique, allowing it to be grown in a controlled lab environment that increases the yield per square foot.
To make the mycelium look like leather, it is processed using a secret method the company claims uses “green chemistry principles.” It is then tanned and dyed to look and feel just like leather. Any leftover material can be composted, which makes Adidas’ Mylo Stan Smith only that much more sustainable — so long as the material hasn’t been treated with chemicals making it non-biodegradable.
With the silhouette slated to hit Adidas stores soon, the brand moves closer to its goal of ending plastic waste forever. Keeping its consumers in mind, though, Adidas should expand the Mylo technology to other sneaker models, giving everyone a chance to be as sustainable as they are stylish.