Eric Liedtke is co-founder and CEO of The Unless Collective, a zero-plastic, zero-waste streetwear brand with a regenerative creation model aimed at changing the way footwear, apparel and accessories are designed, distributed, collected and safely returned to the earth – serving as a lighthouse for industry to follow.
At the end of December 2019, Eric stepped away from his Executive Board position at adidas, to pursue his passion for the fight against plastic waste full time. While in this role, Eric guided all adidas brands and businesses including adidas, adidas Originals, Reebok and Yeezy as well as all key Brand functions including Design, Innovation, Brand Management and Digital Brand Commerce. Eric re-energized the adidas brand by unleashing a culture of collaboration and creativity by empowering employees, and inviting athletes, entertainers, consumers and partners to shape the future together with a true “open source” model. His cultural and strategic leadership enabled adidas to break new ground in the areas of material and process innovation, sustainability and streetwear driving consistent growth – out-pacing its competition adding over $8 billion dollars of revenue in 6 years on the job.
A former competitive swimmer, and Oceans Advocate, Eric has merged his passion for the water with his open-source approach to business, catalyzing a company-wide commitment to sustainability. To fight marine pollution, he initiated a partnership with Parley for the Oceans in 2014, committing to create 11 million pairs of shoes made of Parley Ocean Plastic in 2019, and drove the ambitious goal of eliminating virgin polyester from adidas products by 2024. He has shared his vision and practical experiences with up-cycling plastics as both a cause for good and a driver for business growth at the United Nations and COP21, with the aim to onboard other brands and businesses in the mission to save the oceans by eliminating plastic waste.
During his 26-year career with adidas, Eric was at the forefront of consumer-led innovation. He is a serial entrepreneur – marrying technology driven innovation with the fast-paced world of fashion, streetwear and youth culture fueling new segments, new businesses, excitement and growth.
His teams created and launched adidas Boost energy return foam in 2012 and scaled it to over 4B in business by 2018. Under his direction, adidas created a billion-dollar Yeezy business with artist Kanye West in a little over 3 years and has scaled the adidas eCom platform to reach 4B in 2020. In 2015 he spearheaded the products made from recycled ocean plastic, and in 6 years converted over 50% of business from virgin plastics to recycled plastics, leading the entire industry in this massive shift. In 2018 under Eric’s direction adidas introduced Futurecraft 4D, the world’s first running shoe featuring the revolutionary additive manufacturing technology – Digital Light Synthesis. And, he championed the introduction of Futurecraft Loop – the world’s first running shoe that was made to be remade. A true circular product concept and business model that allows consumers to return their used shoes or apparel to be completely reground and re-introduced into the supply chain to live again.
Eric is married with two daughters and a son. He lives along the Oregon Coast spending his free time surfing and working out, he also sits on the Parley for the Oceans Steering Committee.