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The Degenerate Sneaker

Skate Punk with a Purpose

"This sneaker will live a long, useful life and when it’s no longer useful, it will be turned into valuable inputs for new soil products, allowing Unless to use the decomposition process to birth something entirely new,” Eric Liedtke the co-founder and CEO of UNLESS Collective said.

Degenerate is made from 100% plants and minerals while forgoing the use of plastic. The shoe’s standout element is the use of NFW (Natural Fiber Welding), which is soft enough to create the cushioning and tough enough to form the outsole. Unless also states that at the end of the sneaker’s lifecycle, they should be sent back to the brand so they can be turned into new soil products.

Liedtke knows sneakers. According to Businesses Insider,

“Eric Liedtke did a little bit of everything for adidas over his 26-year tenure, from working in the mail room to becoming Adidas brand president and earning a spot on the company's board.

He worked closely with Adidas endorsers Beyonce and Pharrell and spoke at the United Nations Nations about an Adidas sneaker made from trash recovered from the ocean. He also helped develop the company's 2020 business plan.

In 2021, Liedtke, and four other Adidas veterans, Paul Gaudio, Tara Moss, Milos Ribic, and Maarten Teijsse, launched Unless Collective, a Portland-based streetwear brand that makes clothing from plants.

Liedtke's goal is to do for sportswear and streetwear what Tesla did for cars.”

Luke Haverhals is the founder and CEO of NFW. "NFW’s sustainable, natural, non-plastic fabrics are used by not only Unless, but also Ralph Lauren, Allbirds, BMW Group, H&M, Bellroy, New Balance, Deckers Brands, PANGAIA, Reformation, IWC Richemont, Hyundai, and Stella McCartney.

More than 24 billion pairs of shoes are made every year, and 300 million pairs are thrown away. This presents a real problem for the planet, as the vast majority of shoes are made with plastics and other petrochemicals, which break down into harmful micro-plastics that find their way into our rivers and oceans, our food, and even our bodies.

As more brands – from giants like Nike, Adidas and Reebok, to more smaller but rapidly growing companies including Allbirds and Sanuk – jump on the sustainable footwear bandwagon, dozens of plant-based sneakers have been released. These products utilize everything from mushroom leather to upcycled fibers and plastic crafted from corn," according to Forbes


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