After joining Adidas back in 1994 as its Global Line Manager for Cross Training in Portland, Eric Liedtke’s 25 years term with the sportswear giant has been anything but dull. He was at the top of his game and in 2014, became the Executive Board Member of Adidas (responsible for Global Brands). Since then, Eric has driven the company in a way that spoke to the current generation without compromising the brand’s cult status. He’s played a pivotal role in combating Adidas’ fading relevance and placing it in a newer, faster world of retail. From steering the sought-after collaboration with rapper Kanye West for Adidas Yeezy to bringing in pop music sensation Beyoncé for partnerships, he has gifted the German sportswear brand an identity to carry forward after his unanticipated exit in 2019.
What runs in the DNA of Eric Liedtke is his inclination to have a sustainable approach to his work. And following his departure from adidas, the man is now officially back in the game with the same outlook. ‘Sustainability’ is not new to him—remember the ethical Adidas x Parley collection made out of ocean plastic waste which is currently making waves and championing cleaner oceans? He’s the man behind it. Building upon this ideology, he is now launching his own sustainable streetwear brand, called UNLESS.
A new label with a collective of execs from Adidas, Quicksilver, and the ad company R/GA, UNLESS furthers the sustainability-focused work that Eric is best known for. The brand aims to be the cool, sustainable purveyor for streetwear brands which aligns itself with an ethical approach. By following a no-plastic and no-waste approach, the label has been able to make products that will ‘harmlessly decompose’ at the end of their shelf lives. From footwear, apparel, accessories and more—no waste will be left behind once a piece from the brand hits the shelf for consumers. With UNLESS, he aims to build a new business model which tackles tonnes of polyester-laced apparel that crowd the landfills every year.
“Fashion is arguably the world’s second-largest polluter,” Eric shares in a statement. He adds, “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.” And it was this realisation for Eric Liedtke that a global name such as Adidas would never be able to handle such a transformation, which pushed him to quit.
UNLESS is expected to launch this Fall.