Sean Wotherspoon's Adidas SuperEarth Collab Is Just the Beginning
Call it the sophomore jitters. Like any creator who skyrockets to astronomical success at breakneck speed after their debut product, Sean Wotherspoon feels the burden of following up with his next act.
The co-founder of Round Two, who already built a steady following by collecting and curating vintage threads over the past six years, hit new heights of streetwear popularity when he designed a corduroy hybrid of the Nike Air Max 1 and 97. Unlike most brand collaborators ordained by influencer marketing experts inside corporate offices, Wotherspoon was the people’s choice after his design won a campaign to decide a new Air Max silhouette in 2017. It was an instant hit when it released, solidifying Wotherspoon as a designer and opening up new doors beyond the ones of the additional Round Two locations across the country.
Wotherspoon attends the Dior Men’s Fall 2020 Runway Show on December 03, 2019 in Miami, Florida.
“Once we made that happen the first time, it’s been my goal to make that happen over and over again,” Wotherspoon says. Since then, Wotherspoon partnered with Guess on a full collection as well as with Asics and Atmos on a corduroy Gel-Lyte III sneaker.
Still, every new design project Wotherspoon takes on inspires some kind of fear. Sure, there’s the inherent fear of not living up to expectations, something that all of us have. But there’s also the more specific fear of not knowing how the patricians of sneaker culture are going to react to it.
“There’s pressure because the hype train is out of your control and there’s no say in what’s going to be cool or not,” he says. “That does go through my head a few times and it’s scary to think about.”
The tongue of the "SuperEarth" Superstar.
Wotherspoon’s way of circumventing these apprehensions was to focus more on why he does these partnerships and not so much on what people will think of them. A devout vegan, making Earth-friendly shoes has been a part of every collab he puts his name on since that first Air Max.
“I have a lot of confidence in my product and the stuff I’m designing because it’s a bigger message,” he says. “Even if there’s negative opinions on the look of the shoe or the style or the fashion of it, you can’t possibly beat down what positive it’s doing for the world.”
Wotherspoon’s been living a vegan lifestyle ever since his fiancé put him onto the documentary Cowspiracy six years ago. In fact, everyone in his family, from his son Nash to the family dog, eats plant-based. At first, Wotherspoon’s motivation was his personal health; it was a way to maintain his energy levels while he was hustling to get Round Two up and running. Since then, his reasons have evolved to include the environmental impact on the world—and he’s made a point to preach that to every brand that asks to take a meeting with him.
SuperEarth Superstar Sean Wotherspoon Shoes, Adida, sadidas.com
“Each person always wants to know how they can make the biggest impact in something they care about,” he says. “For me personally, this is the biggest impact I can make because people actually listen to me about sneakers and this just turned into my goal.”
Enter Adidas. When Wotherspoon met with the German sportswear company, a lot of its intentions were already in alignment with his. Sustainability has been a north star for Adidas since 2015, when it announced a long-term partnership with environmental organization Parley for the Oceans and the brand has been upping the ante on shoes made from recycled ocean plastic versus traditional methods ever since. Last year, it unveiled a 100 percent recyclable running sneaker in the Futurecraft Loop and set an aggressive goal to use only recycled fibers and polyesters in its products by 2024.
The cork sockliners.
Wotherspoon saw an opportunity to use these innovations Adidas already had in its repertoire to make sustainable sneakers people will think are cool, regardless of environmental rating. And he’s starting with the Superstar, the iconic shell-toed silhouette that a lot of design collaborators have put their spin on, but have never done with an environmental concept in mind.
The sneaker, which is dubbed the SuperEarth and drops on August 29, is made of all vegan materials. It’s one of only a handful of vegan sneakers that Adidas has ever made. There are pieces of Wotherspoon’s personality on the shoe, too, like the embroidered floral pattern that he sketched himself. Every part of the shoe, from the cork sockliner (sourced from leftover Ortholite material in the factories) to the way the threads hang off of the edge of the sneaker, is considered.
“People see that and they don’t see it being a sustainable factor of the shoe, they see it as this drip factor,” Wotherspoon says of the excess strings on the sneaker, which typically would be cut off and thrown away during production. He opted to let them hang in order to save the waste. “That’s my thing: trying to make things look cool with purpose.”
The long threads dangling from the floral embroidery aren’t just for looks—they also cut down on waste during production.
Wotherspoon x Adidas will go beyond just one vegan sneaker. More SuperEarth product is on the way for the back half of this year, as well as an original silhouette designed by Wotherspoon in 2021. A triple collab between Wotherspoon, Adidas, and an unnamed brand is also on the way.
“This is just the beginning, a small tip of SuperEarth,” Wotherspoon says. “As we’re speaking, I’m wearing a sample for my next shoe that no one’s seen yet that I’m really fucking excited about. It might be my favorite shoe that I’ve done.”
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.