When former adidas executive Eric Liedtke announced his next chapter post-Three Stripes, bringing sustainability to streetwear became his number one priority. This was no surprise as Liedtke led much of the brand’s intersection in energy capturing collaborations with Yeezy and Ivy Park as well as sustainability-focused partnerships with Parley for the Oceans, which led to the development of adidas’ recycled ocean plastic performance material Primeblue. Liedtke is back with the official release of his 100% plant-based and zero plastic waste brand UNLESS.
First teased in September 2021, UNLESS is a streetwear brand that aims to counter the apparel industry’s reliance on plastic materials. The brand notes that 60% of all textiles like polyester, nylon, and acrylic derive from plastic, and that only 15% of these materials are actually recycled while the remaining amount piles up in landfills affecting our oceans, food, and bodies or are incinerated, which leads to emitting harmful greenhouse gases. “There is no such thing as ‘away’ when it comes to plastic – only somewhere else,” the brand states on its site.
The solution Liedtke’s UNLESS brings to the table is relying on natural materials made from Earth that can go back into the planet. Its first drop consists of the Tongue Logo tee ($50 USD) in black, off-white, and yellow colorways; the 3xUNLESS tee ($50 USD) in green and purple, and the black Flannel Jacket ($159 USD). All items and its details including the fabric, label, and threads are developed from plants and meant to decompose naturally at the end of its life. The T-shirts use a water-based printing technique that transfers the graphic onto the shirt by soaking it into the cotton fibers as opposed to applying the design by melting plastic. The jacket is a remix of the classic PNW flannel that’s traditionally crafted in Portugal and uses 100% cotton for the body, 100% lyocell for the interliner, a 52% cotton and 48% Tencel twill mix for the soft and fuzzy pink lining fabric, and responsibly collected corozo nuts for buttons.
“Our first collection is made with materials that are 100% plant-based, which means zero plastic. Because of this, our products can harmlessly decompose at the end of life, leaving behind zero plastic waste,” Lietdke told FUTUREVVORLD in September 2021. “We are relentlessly pursuing new solutions for the design, development, distribution, and re-collection of our products, by first starting with the end in mind. This means we are also exploring end-of-life strategies such as repair and re-use, recycling, and composting – but If one of our products should end up in a landfill, or even buried in your backyard, it will decompose naturally.”
If wearers find their UNLESS pieces have reached its end, the brand has set up a takeback program where used items can be sent back in exchange for credit towards the next drop. The program is an online process that starts by inputting the code found on the inside of the clip tag on the item on the UNLESS site. From there, the brand ensures the worn garments are either repaired, recycled, or composted
“We are committed to minimizing our carbon footprint, but our mission is to solve the problem of plastic waste in the fashion industry,” said Lietdke. “Because of this, our starting point is at the end of a product’s life, understanding what needs to happen to make it harmlessly return to nature, or usefully return to the supply chain. From that place, we work backward, making the best decisions we can to responsibly make our products with as light a footprint as is possible.”
In other clothing news, activewear brand Ten Thousand teamed up with famed ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll for a sustainable running line called the FAR Collection.