Billion-Dollar Start-Up Allbirds Launches Apparel
Allbirds, the San Francisco brand whose wildly popular £95 wool trainers and low-carbon ethos earned it a valuation of $1.7bn from investors earlier this month, is about to find out. The five-year-old company, co-founded by New Zealander Tim Brown (pictured left) and American Joey Zwillinger, is expanding into apparel for the first time, launching four styles for men and women sized from XS to XXXL. Lauren Indvik reports on the new fashion direction for the UK’s Financial Times.
At first glance, there is nothing particularly special about the clothes, according to Indvik, but as with the brand’s flagship Wool Runner shoe – whose soles are made of a flexible, foamy substance derived partly from sugarcane – she writes that the devil is in the materials. A soft, thin charcoal tee appears to be made of a light synthetic knit, but is in fact cut from a one-way-stretch yarn spun from wool, eucalyptus tree fibre and chitosan, a fibre derived, according to Allbirds, from the discarded shells of snow crabs caught in the Labrador Sea off the coast of Newfoundland.
Apparel wasn’t always on Allbirds’ road map, but was “something we walked into”, Brown says.
He describes the company’s approach as “more design-centric than fashion-centric” – a process of getting to know its customers intimately and identifying problems for Allbirds to solve, he says.
Original article by Lauren Indvik, Financial Times, October 21, 2020.
Photo by Cayce Clifford.