Executive Briefings

Your Next Sneakers Will Come From Trees

Allbirds, the Silicon Valley startup behind a wildly popular wool sneaker, is pivoting from sheep to trees.

The venture-capital darling is unveiling two new models made with the fibers of eucalyptus trees, effectively doubling its product line. One of its new kicks will be a flora version of its seminal, minimalist running shoe.

“We’ve been the leaders, you could argue, in creating a new class of footwear,” said co-founder Tim Brown of the company’s novel use of wool. “And at first glance, shoes made out of trees don’t make a lot of sense, either.”

Allbirds said eucalyptus will require only 5 percent of the resources that go into a traditional shoe made of leather, plastic, rubber or some combination thereof. And while there’s a lot to like about wool shoes, from a warm, fuzzy fit to anti-microbial properties, they still don’t pair overly well with summer or rain. Allbirds is hoping its eucalyptus line, which wicks away sweat, will strip some of the seasonality out of its business and expand sales in America’s southern climes, as well as in markets such as Australia.

Co-founder Joey Zwillinger, a biotech engineer, said the company has been developing the new material since its launch two years ago. In the interim, the company’s wooly business has grown at a pace that surprised even its co-founders.

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The venture-capital darling is unveiling two new models made with the fibers of eucalyptus trees, effectively doubling its product line. One of its new kicks will be a flora version of its seminal, minimalist running shoe.

“We’ve been the leaders, you could argue, in creating a new class of footwear,” said co-founder Tim Brown of the company’s novel use of wool. “And at first glance, shoes made out of trees don’t make a lot of sense, either.”

Allbirds said eucalyptus will require only 5 percent of the resources that go into a traditional shoe made of leather, plastic, rubber or some combination thereof. And while there’s a lot to like about wool shoes, from a warm, fuzzy fit to anti-microbial properties, they still don’t pair overly well with summer or rain. Allbirds is hoping its eucalyptus line, which wicks away sweat, will strip some of the seasonality out of its business and expand sales in America’s southern climes, as well as in markets such as Australia.

Co-founder Joey Zwillinger, a biotech engineer, said the company has been developing the new material since its launch two years ago. In the interim, the company’s wooly business has grown at a pace that surprised even its co-founders.

Read full article