Silicon Valley-Loved Shoe Brand Allbirds Is Expanding into Fashion

Photo credit: Megan Collins
Photo credit: Megan Collins


If you’re a Silicon Valley exec, a great aunt living in Vermont, or a celebrity who uses their platform responsibly (say, for example, Oprah, Katie Holmes, Kerry Washington or even Barack Obama), you already know about Allbirds and own a style yourself.

For the uninitiated, Allbirds launched a first-of-its-kind sneaker made from merino wool (a natural fiber) in 2016 and has sold over a million pairs since. The brand’s allure? An alchemy of simplicity, comfort, and transparency in—brace yourself, here comes fashion’s equivalent of the word ‘moist‘—sustainability.

When it comes to the ladder, Allbirds has, to their credit, been transparent in exactly how they source its materials since beginning. The only polyester found in their shoes’ laces come from recycled bottles and packaging is made up of 90% cardboard materials. In April, founders Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger even announced they’d start labeling the carbon output used to create a single pair of shoes, akin to how food packaging signals to consumers the calorie count of what they’re eating.

Photo credit: Megan Collins
Photo credit: Megan Collins

Earlier today, the brand announced what’s next, and it’s a big leap. AllBirds is now venturing into womenswear and menswear. Specifically, merino-wool based sweaters and cardigans, as well as puffer jackets and T-shirts made using the brand’s patented TrinoXO™ fabric, a natural material harvested from snow crab shells (the world’s second most discarded resource, per Allbirds). Every item in the collection is made from natural and recycled materials.

A press release shared with from Allbirds answers the question of why now, stating: “As the chasm between disposable fast fashion and utilitarian basics has grown, the fashion industry has clung to the same outdated methods that continue to drive excessive carbon emissions, soil depletion, and synthetic waste. So we asked ourselves, why couldn’t we give people clothes they’ll love and simply make them better?”

Allbirds is hardly the first shoe or clothing brand to care about responsibly sourcing their materials. (Fair trade brand Veja launched back in 2003.) However, perhaps, more brands will finally feel the pressure to hold a mirror to themselves and see how they measure up in emitting greenhouse gases, and feel the need to do something about it.

For its part, Adidas has joined the conversation. As ELLE Canada reported in May, Allbirds and Adidas are joining forces to create a sports performance shoe with the lowest-ever carbon footprint by 2021.

To learn more about about sustainability in fashion, the fashion campaign for Allbirds’s launch thoughtfully stars environmental activists as part of the brand’s Allgood Collective. Among the (many) leaders in this space worth checking out are Leah Thomas, founder of @intersectionalenvironmentalism, as well as photojournalist Aditi Mayer.

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