Compostable Apparel: A Conversation with Eric Liedtke of Unless Collective

In the 1967 Mike Nichols film “The Graduate,” there’s an iconic scene where Dustin Hoffman’s character Benjamin Braddock is given one word of career advice by a well-meaning family friend at his college graduation party: plastics.

Fast-forward more than 50 years, and there certainly was a future in it. The earth is literally swimming in the stuff, causing some forward-looking companies to pursue solutions that aren’t additive to that sea of petrochemical-based apparel and footwear ending up in landfills or incinerated.

Unless Collective, a Portland, OR startup that is creating plant- and mineral-based footwear and apparel, is one of a handful of companies looking to make a difference by its conscious choice of materials and manufacturing. Co-Founder and CEO Eric Liedtke, a nearly 30-year veteran of Adidas who helped start the company in 2019, said it’s the first brand to pilot what he calls “regenerative fashion” made from a 100% plant and mineral base.

In this MCM CommerceChat podcast, Liedtke talks about his passion for creating sustainable apparel, the symbiotic relationship with another startup producing needed materials, the company’s channel approach and what he hopes will be more efforts like his to reverse the massive flow of forever products.