Allbirds, an environmentally conscious shoe company known for its merino wool and Forest Stewardship Council-certified eucalyptus tree sneakers, launched its first apparel line Oct. 20.
The brand’s ethos is sustainability: It uses ethically sourced wool, Tencel “tree fiber,” recycled plastic water bottles and microorganisms that eat plant sugar, among other materials, as part of its shoes. Allbirds even measures its products’ carbon emissions, making it stand out as one of the most sustainable shoe options — besides the ones you already have in your closet, that is.
“We knew we wanted to be a real brand, and had this vision that we’d be an innovation company first, and a product company second,” co-founder Joey Zwillinger said in an interview with Vogue. “And our products would solve problems for people in a natural way, and show the world that you don’t have to compromise on the planet for amazing products.”
Allbirds found that problem in the market and focused on it, truly innovating sustainable footwear and moving the recycled needle forward. The same could be said of the unique materials it created and uses in its apparel.
The brand’s “Trino” material is a mix of eucalyptus tree and merino wool. The “TrinoXO” fabric incorporates this material and is made with chitosan fiber, a “natural odor-fighter” created from snow crab shells. The puffer jacket is made of wool, Tencel and recycled nylon. The sweater and cardigan are also made of wool.
Though there are many sustainable shoe companies, Allbirds stands out because it has a balanced price point, style and utility, which is rare for a sustainable brand. But here’s the thing — Allbirds branching out into the saturated sustainable clothing market does deviate from what made it so special.
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Allbirds is known as a sneaker company. And Allbirds’ brand image is a mix of casual and sporty, so the decision to not release a single piece of athleticwear to style with its sporty sneakers comes out of left field. The TrinoXO T-shirt can be worn to work out, but that’s not its defined purpose.
Allbirds’ push to be this all-inclusive brand with clothing and sneakers doesn’t make sense, because its designs aren’t unique to the company. Though the materials Allbirds created are impressive, this collection’s launch reeks of corporate greed.
If Allbirds were to release designs with interesting silhouettes that couldn’t be found elsewhere, its apparel would stand out from all of the other sustainable basics brands and would be more interesting.
Allbirds’ clothing releases in the future should correlate with its already existing line of products in more ways than just sustainability and material innovation. Then, it can be innovative in not only sustainable footwear but in activewear as well.
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