Cyrill Gutsch’s plan to clean up our oceans
Cyrill Gutsch has a dream: to clean the world’s oceans of plastic. This Friday, October 14, Adidas will start retailing its newest series of high-tech, eco-warrior Parley sneakers, the latest move to turn ocean waste plastic into branded products. Two years ago, Gutsch teamed up with Pharrell Williams, who created a collection “Raw for the Oceans” for G-Star in Bionic Yarn – made of recycled plastic, collected from the sea.
Gutsch's first series of footwear with Adidas last year was made from a 74-kilometer long fishing net salvaged from the sea. Weighing 70 tons, the net was illegally tossed into the ocean after a famous ocean-wide pursuit of a criminal tuna trawler by Captain Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd. The latest sneakers come from plastic taken from the shores of the Maldives.
Says Erman Aykurt, Senior Design Director for Adidas Originals: “We picked a visual style from the 90s, when we focused on the needs of athletes. Out tagline is: ‘Everything that is essential, and nothing that is not.’ This is a long-term engagement with Parley, and a new dialogue.” The Parley shoes are released in limited editions of some 10,000 and priced at around €200. Aptly, they come in Pacific or Aegean blue.
Ever busy, Gutsch is in talks with some 700 corporations and has also brokered an agreement between Parley and Anheuser Busch, the world’s biggest brewing company, to stop all its production of plastic soda bottles. We caught up with Gutsch in London for an update on the Parley.
FashionNetwork.com: Why work with Adidas?
Cyrill Gutsch: I worked for Adidas as a kid of 18. When I began Parley, I wanted to work with Adidas. It was more than a brand; more an organic structure of so many stubborn people. Not easy to harness but with a great tradition of mixing innovation and technological performance. And it took us two years, but we got there and are now really family.
FNW: Why did you call your group Parley?
C.G: Parley means a negotiation – in this case with the sea. It’s just a fact that we are killing everything out there – knowingly or unknowingly – very rapidly. Marine plastic pollution is killing all our oceans.
FNW: How come you started Parley?
C.G: I met Captain Paul Watson in a law firm. He was like a pirate Santa Claus. He was just out of prison and fighting for the environment. I was super useless in an environmental sense and didn’t even vote. But that day I began to learn about the oceans. That meeting was apocalyptic.
FNW: What have you done in the Maldives?
C.G: Like a lot of our work in Jamaica, Sri Lanka or the Maldives it is often simply cleaning up trash. Intercepting as much as we can upstream, or cleaning up reefs, or the sea-beds. We have found thousands of car tires, because people used to use them to build “natural reefs” but instead made toxic wastelands. And, of course, ghost nets, still trapping fish years after they have been discarded in a cycle of death. Then we up-cycle these materials; develop bionic yarn, a patented technology using low quality plastics. Parley is also building bailing stations, processing plants where we can ship out the plastic to be recycled and schools to educate more kids ecologically. There are 40 million pounds of plastic in the North Pacific alone!
FNW: What are your goals?
C.G: To us the key is in the term AIR: Avoid, Intercept and Redesign. We have created ocean schools to create Ocean Warriors. Once a kid understands what is going on they will terrorize their parents to change. We have to protect the beauty of the oceans.
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