Erik Liedtke has announced UNLESS, a new brand that combines streetwear with sustainability.
The former Brand Chief for Adidas — known for his work signing Kanye West’s partnership deal with the company — has turned his expertise and attention to zero-waste, plastic-free streetwear.
He’s not alone: a collective of fellow Adidas execs, as well as some from Quicksilver, are also involved in launching UNLESS.
Liedtke is acutely aware of the environmental impact of the fashion industry and was a key driving force in helping Adidas switch to more sustainable materials. (The brand is moving away from polyester in favor of recycled materials, like Primeblue, which is made with old fishing nets, and mushroom leather.)
But now he wants to make a bigger impact, with a brand that chooses the right materials from the start. And with clothing that naturally decomposes when it reaches the end of its life.
“The plastic problem keeps getting worse,” Liedtke said. “With UNLESS we see a real opportunity for change. An opportunity for a better way. A way driven by cutting-edge innovation married with the desirability of streetwear. An innovative solution for consumers so they can truly feel as great as they look knowing their choices will have a positive impact on the world.”
Not much has been revealed yet regarding the collection’s materials, but LIVEKINDLY has reached out for further comment. The first drop of the company’s clothing, which will include footwear and apparel, is expected this fall.
Sustainable streetwear & athleisure
The streetwear and athleisure industry is crying out for more brands like UNLESS. Historically, this type of clothing has relied on materials like polyester and nylon that can take centuries to biodegrade.
Like Adidas, major industry names are trying to change their ways, but it’s going to take time. For example, Lululemon recently partnered with Genomatica to switch to plant-based nylon, which is far better for the environment than conventional nylon, but still isn’t biodegradable.
CEO Calvin McDonald confirmed that the brand is looking for more biodegradable alternatives, but also acknowledged that the move away from nylon is urgent.
“Our partnership with Genomatica comes out of the realization that we can’t really afford to wait,” he said. “We need to make these immediate improvements while simultaneously working on next-generation materials.”
Charlotte writes about sustainable beauty, food, travel, and culture. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and a postgraduate certificate in cultural heritage.