Every year, Adidas introduces an experimental new shoe technology dubbed “Futurecraft.” These aren’t just bouncier foams or sneakers loaded with fitness tracking inside. They fundamentally reimagine how performance footwear is made—from creating shoes from ocean plastic, to 3D-printing midsoles, to building “Loop” shoes that can be ground up, melted, and made into brand-new shoes when you’re done wearing them.
This year is no exception, as Adidas introduces a new way of making uppers—the soft, cloth top of your shoe—called Strung. Most shoe uppers are made by cutting a square of cloth into a pattern, leaving scraps that fall to the floor. Strung is almost a zero-waste process. It entails a robot arm wrapping yarn around a pegboard very fast to build a textile from layer after layer of string, all of which gets fused together through heat. There is no stitching, no glue, and no eyelets, and no other components are added after the fact. Strung is what Adidas calls additive manufacturing: You build up a material layer by layer from scratch, rather than cutting away from existing material, which inevitably creates waste.