Adidas is already challenging the notions of ownership with a slow rollout of fully recyclable sneakers intended to be returned and turned into an entirely new shoe. Viewing what we wear as something to be temporarily owned instead of eventually discarded may be a huge step toward reaching true sustainability, and Adidas will take the concept further with a new rental program through its dedicated outdoor division.
In France only, Adidas Terrex is testing a rental service for a full range of products from outerwear and hiking sneakers down to sweat-wicking T-shirts and shorts. Customers will be able to rent footwear and apparel for a set amount of time, with pricing based on the duration. Once a product has been used and returned, Adidas will clean and repair it before putting it back up for someone else to rent.
Sanitization is done using an “ozone process” — which should help quell your concerns over wearing what someone else has sweated in. The idea here is to simply rent what you need for any given excursion and then give it back to ensure it’s used to its maximum potential.
Will the idea take off? — We’ve seen outdoor brands including The North Face and Patagonia sell previously worn and refurbished products at a discount, but Adidas’ test program narrows down the window of wearing pre-used gear.
At first glance, the program makes the most sense for people who only dabble in outdoor activities on an irregular basis and wouldn’t get much use out of actually owning the gear. But still, there’s a big difference between buying something someone else once used and renting something potentially as close to the body as a T-shirt that’s been worn by numerous others. France is a far smaller market than the U.S., and the initiative’s success there may determine if the rental program is even tried out here.
What else is Adidas doing in this space? — Through the Futurecraft.Loop line, Adidas is slowly rolling out sneakers that are made of 100-percent recyclable materials. Initial testing phases involved giving the sneakers out to select people, who were then instructed to return them after a set period. That first generation of sneakers was then recycled into another one, which was given out again to repeat the process.
Just last month, Adidas moved past the private beta phase and made its Ultraboost “Made to be Remade” available for purchase for the first time. The company has also begun teasing a jacket with the same recycling possibilities, and Adidas says it may consider offering it to consumers on a temporary basis only.
Reaching true sustainability will require a remarkable shift in the mindsets of both consumers and retailers, and Adidas’ new rental program may serve as a litmus test for how much the former are willing to change their behavior.