It is not widely known that a Finnish firm played an important role in building brand awareness for German sporting goods manufacturer adidas. The company’s iconic three-stripe logo was in fact bought from Karhu Sports following the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, in which 15 gold medals were won by athletes wearing Karhu-branded spikes.
Fast forward to 2021 and Finnish firms are still playing an important role in the adidas story, with an eye determinedly on the future. When adidas and Finnish fashion house Marimekko announced a collaboration in May, this was the first in a trio of recent Finland-related headlines for the German sporting goods manufacturer, each with an eye on achieving its strategic ambition to have nine out of 10 articles made from sustainable materials by 2025.
The resultant adidas x Marimekko collection utilises new materials, including recycled yarns, and methods to help reduce the environmental impact of production.
“The opportunity to collaborate with [Marimekko], a brand who shares the same values of combining functionality and style whilst using more sustainable materials and methods, felt like such an exciting and natural opportunity,” said Josefine Aberg, VP of design at adidas. “The collection spans many sports and outdoor activities and truly combines the best of our expertise in sports performance fabrics with the bold and playful prints of Marimekko.”
Renewing its interest
The following month adidas doubled down on its ongoing development collaboration with Finnish sustainable textile material company Spinnova, pledging three million euros to Spinnova’s initial public offering.
“With Spinnova’s scalable technology platform that can make textile fibre out of abundantly available, renewable materials such as wood and agricultural waste, and provide full recyclability and quick biodegradability, we feel we are an ideal match with the ambitious and pioneering adidas sustainability strategy,” said Spinnova’s CEO and co-founder, Janne Poranen.
The investment secures adidas access to significant volumes of Spinnova materials in the future. Spinnova is in the process of building its first commercial factory in Finland, as well as building a pilot facility for producing fibre from leather waste with ECCO’s sister company KT Trading.
Spinnova is already looking beyond these developments, recently announcing its intention to scale up wood-based fibre production to one million tonnes by 2031.
A fashionable future
Finnish circular fashion and textile technology group Infinited Fiber Company also caught the eye of adidas in July, with the German company joining the likes of H&M Group and BESTSELLER’s investment arm FWD A/S in a 30-million-euro funding round.
The raised capital comes amidst growing demand from global fashion and textile brands for Infinited Fiber Company’s regenerated textile fibre Infinna. The company in April announced plans to build a flagship factory in Finland, which will use household textile waste as raw material along with a wide range of cellulose-rich materials such as cardboard, paper, wheat and rice straw. Clothes and textiles made with the company’s fibres can in turn be recycled with other textile waste and reborn again as Infinna.
“These new investments enable us to proceed at full speed with the pre-engineering, environmental permits and the recruitment of the skilled professionals needed to take our flagship project forward,” said the company’s CEO, Petri Alava.“We can now also boost production at our pilot facilities so that we can better serve our existing customers and grow our customer base in preparation for both our flagship factory and for the future licensees of our technology.”
H&M Group also signed a multiyear sales deal with Infinited Fiber Company to secure access to agreed amounts of Infinna from the flagship factory. The deal and participation in the latest investment round follows an earlier investment in 2019.
“We’re thrilled to continue our journey with Infinited Fiber Company by further investing in them,” said H&M Group’s Nanna Andersen. “To be joined by other global brands clearly speaks to the shared belief in the scalability of their technology as well as the team behind it.”
New investor BESTSELLER also struck a similar sales deal with Infinited Fiber Company.
More than 92 million metric tons of textile waste is produced globally every year and most of this ends up in landfills or incinerators. Textile Exchange estimates the global textile fibre market to grow 30% to 146 million metric tons by 2030 from 111 million metric tonnes in 2019.