Published On: Fri, Apr 15th, 2016

Stars come out for recycled plastics in fashion

Recycled plastics are becoming ever more sophisticated and attractive, which is why more fashion and sports brands are exploring how far they can take this technology to boost their green credentials.

According to a report by Technavio on global football equipment market trends between 2016 and 2020, celebrity endorsements could give recycled plastic sports products a boost in the mass market.

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Stars come out for recycled plastics in fashion

The report found that the top four emerging football equipment trends are: increased demand for eco-friendly products, use of celebrity endorsements for product promotion, increased number of innovative product launches and a growing online retail channel for football equipment. Where the first two trends are concerned, it is interesting because while a big name can help sell a product, for a growing number of people a greener product will be selected over a less green rival. So putting both together is a match made in marketing heaven, right?

“Adidas came up with the concept of Sport Infinity in 2015,” stated Brijesh Kumar Choubey, a Lead Analyst at Technavio for general retail goods and services, using Sport Infinity as a good example of football equipment ‘greening’ with a celebrity incentive. “Instead of discarding worn-out football shoes of popular players, the shoes are broken down and remoulded with scrap material from different industries to create new products. This initiative, in association with the European Commission, aims to produce sporting goods that can be repeatedly recycled.”

Adidas is courageous in its green initiatives of late and sets a good example that in order to create interest and demand in eco-friendly products, brands need to be brave, invest in good design and take more green products to market, exposing the public to the best these kinds of products can be.

Take Adidas and Parlay for Oceans’ recycled ocean plastic shoe prototype last summer. The sports brand launched its first ever marine-waste shoe in New York City in June 2015 to great fanfare demonstrating how far brands can take being green while at the same time being (for want of a better word) cool. The media gave the story fantastic coverage and on Adidas’ Facebook page, the picture of the prototype garnered more than 1,000 ‘likes’ and dozens of comments from fans asking how they can get hold of a pair. A product that is not even in the shops yet was already a success and its popularity is almost assured for when the product is ready for the mass market. Adidas has achieved all of this without celebrity endorsement because the product itself is brilliant.

Then there are those organisations who are brave by putting out an environmentally-friendly product and come unglued when an unhappy public wade in. For example, earlier this year the Australian football team – well-known athletes – debuted their new gold home kit from Nike, which is made using 16 recycled bottles per ensemble.

Unfortunately, the new kit, which was praised by Socceroo players for its lightness, was given a scathing review from critics who took to social media to lambast the greener design’s gaudy appearance.

Technavio cited recycled plastic materials along with organic cotton as preferable in an increasingly environmentally-conscious marketplace, and that celebrity endorsement could be the key to making these products float, but there has to be more to it. Doesn’t there?

It’s a bandwagon that’s getting fuller by the month, with the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.Am. hooking up with Coca-Cola for his range of bags, clothes and 3D-printed phone cases all made with recycled materials and Pharrell Williams’ Bionic Yarn recycled plastic clothing line in partnership with G-Star Raw.

Nevertheless, even if it was being fondled by Rihanna and licked by Tom Hiddleston, the most carbon-neutral product won’t garner public interest if it’s badly designed. So while I agree that a celebrity endorsement and a greener journey to market through the supply chain are important, they don’t guarantee success. What is important is greater public exposure to recycled material-made products and engendering a greater willing to choose greener products over their traditionally-made counterparts with great design, before recycled material-made products become (in an ideal world) the norm.