Can you improve on something that's already close to perfect? That's what I wondered after Allbirds last month debuted a new shoe, the $95 loafer-style "Wool Loungers." When I reviewed the original $95 “Wool Runners,” last year, I was charmed by the New Zealand wool sneakers' look and feel. And I've continued to get tons of unsolicited compliments from strangers on them since. I'm not the only one in their thrall. Over the last year, Silicon Valley startup founders and venture capitalists have
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Silicon Valley’s favorite shoe now comes in a new style
Last March, Allbirds hit the market with a single product: a wool sneaker that didn't require you to wear socks. The brand, which has raised a total of $9.95 million in funding, was a big hit among techies and entrepreneurs. (In this month's magazine, the founder of Lola recommended it.) According to the founders, the company set itself very ambitious targets for the first year and ended up surpassing them by five times. Today, the company launches a new wool shoe in a smoking slipper silhouette that it is calling the "Lounger." It's a flat slip-on that feels much like the previous Runner style, but does not have laces. The Allbirds design team came up with dozens of prototypes before landing on this one. "This was much harder to design than the Runner," cofounder Tim Brown explains. "There's so little to work with on a flat shoe. Everything needed to be perfect, because there was nowhere for us to hide imperfections."
Allbirds, the sustainable sneaker that's growing in popularity without a big brand name
Are wool sneakers the future of footwear? Some investors think so.
Investors seem to think sustainable sneakers have potential. Allbirds, the San Francisco-based startup that makes wool sneakers, just closed on $7.25 million in a new round of funding. The Series A round was led by Maveron, the venture capital firm co-founded by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Seed investors Lerer Hippeau, Peterson Partners, Great Oaks VC, Red Sea Ventures and Slow Ventures also participated, Allbirds said.
Allbirds Raises $7.25M Series A led by Maveron
Venture capitalist Henry McNamara owns a pair of Allbirds sneakers in five colors. He obsessively posts photos of them to social media, and never leaves for business without them. McNamara, a general partner at early stage investment firm Great Oaks, is biased. His firm invested in the San Francisco-based footwear startup before it became a Silicon Valley phenomenon. But like like many young professionals, McNamara is over dress shoes.
Silicon Valley is obsessed with these wool sneakers that claim to be the 'most comfortable in the world'
I'm sitting in a WeWork office in San Francisco that looks torn from a West Elm catalog, talking with Michael Brandt about Nootrobox, a subscription service for "smart drugs," or cognitive-enhancement supplements. But I can't stop admiring his shoes — a pair of fuzzy gray sneakers. "They're really awesome. I don't wear socks anymore," Brandt, a
The World’s Most Comfortable Shoes Are Made of Super-Soft Wool
Next in line for disruption: sneakers. Allbirds, a new San Francisco-based startup aimed at designing environmentally friendly and comfortable footwear, launched Mar. 1. Its first product is called the Wool Runner, a minimalist sneaker made of natural textiles. The $95 shoes, for men and women, come in five colors and can only be purchased online.
Why Shoe Startups Are Making Sneakers From Wool
The perfect airport shoe is hard to come by. It should be stylish, cushioned but not overly sporty, and slip on easily. Tim Brown, a former professional soccer player from New Zealand, thinks he has the killer application for such a shoe: wool. Today, Brown launched allbirds, an e-commerce sneaker brand selling one simple model: a foam and rubber outsole stitched to a single piece of merino wool. Dubbed The Wool Runner, the kicks come in four colors and are available only on the allbirds website for $95. It’s a shockingly spare shoe, but it passes the airport test.