Allbirds still leads the way over traditional footwear providers in naturally produced arena.
Allbirds has announced it will be expanding its naturally produced activewear line, readying for its initial public offering sometime later this year — possibly even by this September. The New Zealand-based company was launched in 2016, with its original focus on environmentally respectful production of merino wool footwear.
From the beginning, Allbirds has attracted media attention, celebrity investments, (Leonardo DiCaprio is one noted), and — most importantly — sales. It is now valued at $1.7 billion.
Manufacturing footwear with natural elements versus plastic allowed Allbirds to reach two major targets: the explosive fitness market (which reached $96 billion in global sales in 2019) and those buying from environmentally-conscious businesses. For close to 20 years, 71% of Americans have been shopping among companies showing they share planet-saving concerns.
A true environmental commitment
“Running apparel is typically made of synthetic materials, derived from barrels of oil,” Allbirds co-founder Tim Brown told CNBC.
Since its outset, Allbirds has emphasized it avoids polyester so as to fight the 700 million tons of carbon emissions that material emits. Specifically the company has noted its goal is to slash its per-product carbon footprint by 50% before 2025.
While both Nike and Adidas have entered the “save the environment” arena, the footwear newcomer is still the leader in true efforts. As one review notes, the latest Allbirds running shoe — the SweetFoam — is “the world’s first carbon-negative green EVA,” removing “2.5 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of material.”
Proving profits needn’t scar planet
Besides merino wool, sugar and wood are among Allbirds’ building blocks for product development. It’s Trino® material is a combination of trees and merino to create what it calls this “super yarn.”
Allbirds worked two years to bring eucalyptus tree fiber and merino wool together to generate an environmentally respectful clothing line. It started slowly in 2019, with three styles of socks ranging from $12-16. “Allbirds has never been just about wool or just about footwear,” Brown said then.
Since October 2020, the company has added more clothing options, including its “Sea Tee.” That includes crab shells in its formula “to reduce odor and stay fresh between washes.”
Now it’s announced clothes specifically designed as activewear. That includes biker shorts, a running tank with a built-in bra, lightweight running shorts and high-waisted leggings. With this line, Brown told CNBC that it was not only recognizing the fitness market, but doing so in a way Allbirds could tackle “the disconnect between what we wear to improve our personal health and its negative impact on the health of our planet…”
Be it through materials including crab shell, plant-based leather, or eucalyptus fiber, or finding ways to recycle synthetics, the overall vision of this company carries through all the apparel it offers.
“For us at Allbirds, the disconnect between what we wear to improve our personal health and its negative impact on the health of our planet seemed like an important space for us to tackle,” Brown told CNBC.
Though based in Baltimore, MD, Wendy J. Meyeroff has been an internationally published reporter on health, fitness, and tech for both B2B and B2C audiences for over 20 years. Among her collaborations are CBS (launching it’s consumer health site), Senior Wire News Syndicate, Vision Industry Council of America, Healthcare Informatics, Good Housekeeping and Weight Watchers.