It is no secret that knitted technology is taking the industry by storm. It seems as if every athletic brand is coming up with different variations of the one-piece, minimal, and stitched upper, and it’s with good reason-- the technology produces comfortable and lightweight shoes while reducing waste and labor costs.
Allbirds however, applies their own unique twist to the knitted trend. Rather than using synthetic materials as most brands do, Allbirds uses a more sustainable and responsible material, wool. Founder, Tim Brown, a professional athlete from New Zealand, believes that sustainability and technology are crucial to the brand. His company exclusively uses ZQ-certified merino wool, meaning that it meets the highest standards of sustainable farming and animal welfare control. Furthermore, merino wool has a carbon footprint that is 60% less than traditional synthetic materials. Additionally, their mission for sustainability doesn't stop there: Allbirds has developed a patent pending box that uses 40% less material than traditional shoe boxes.
While the design of their shoes aren’t ground breaking, they do follow the major athleisure footwear trends of minimal design & logo placement, and a full midsole-outsole unit. It’s a simple shoe with a clear purpose, to make footwear more sustainable.
They have been able to draw the attention of major press outlets such as Time Magazine, who dubbed the Allbirds Wool Runner as the world's most comfortable shoe. Furthermore, the shoes received $100,000 in their Kickstarter campaign in just 4 days. For an industry that is always seeking ways to cut costs and save money, their efforts alone in searching for sustainable ways to manufacture shoes is worth applauding for. Their innovation overcomes the challenges of using natural materials, which is inherently prone to imperfections, making it harder to work with, allowing for use of a more sustainable material when compared to synthetics.
Overall, the Allbirds Wool Runner is a great effort by a small company to create a more responsibly made product that looks good and can be worn as an everyday shoe.