New Zealander, Tim Brown has always had an interest in the “magical qualities” of merino wool and began asking himself why such a remarkable, sustainable resource was virtually absent in the footwear industry.
In 2014, Brown, a former football player, launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised $120,000 of start-up money in five days. This allowed him to create a prototype of the trainer.
After years of researching and tinkering, Tim teamed up with Joey Zwillinger, a biotech engineer and renewables expert. Together, they crafted a revolutionary wool fabric made specifically for footwear and Allbirds was born.
The duo raised $2.7 million in seed funding leading up to Allbirds’ launch in 2016. By 2018, Allbirds had raised $27.5 million from venture capital firms such as Tiger Global Management and Maveron, and also boasts Leonardo DiCaprio as an investor. The brand now has five US-based stores and one in London.
Time Magazine has dubbed their product as “the world’s most comfortable shoe.”
Now based in the Bay Area, Allbirds aesthetic is all about simplicity. “Our whole approach to design here is about simplicity, stripping things away,” Brown told Fashionista in 2016. “That sort of approach, the un-design approach, of anonymous luxury, is the very core of what we think about.”
The company only uses materials with a low carbon footprint — the wool requires 60 percent less energy to produce compared to traditional synthetics used in footwear, and castor bean oil is used to create sustainable polyurethane insoles.
With a ZQ certification for merino wool, the company is also a certified B-Corporation. They have partnered with Soles4Souls, a not-for-profit charity that provides global relief through donated shoes and clothing.
In August 2019, Allbirds announced that it would make a move into apparel with sustainable socks made from new material Trino, a mixture of the Merino wool and eucalyptus tree materials used in the brand’s footwear.
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