- Allbirds has launched a new shoe style called Tree Runners.
- Made from eucalyptus tree fibers, the Runners are the biggest departure yet from the company’s signature style made from a novel Merino wool blend.
- Allbirds has found a cult following among tech workers in Silicon Valley.
On Thursday, Allbirds launched a new style of sneaker that’s made from eucalyptus trees. The shoes have a simple, low-top profile that’s like the running sneaker meets the boat shoe.
According to Allbirds founders Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger, the Tree Runners shoe is the most environmentally -friendly style the company has made since its founding in 2014. Fiber gets stripped from eucalyptus trees that grow in South Africa and is woven into a yarn using a 3D-knitting machine. The shoes are lightweight, comfy, and silky to the touch.
Tech workers in Silicon Valley have been singing the praises of Allbirds since the company’s launch. The venture capital-backed startup based in San Francisco is best known for its Wool Runners and Loungers — both super-soft sneakers made from a Merino wool blend.
Titans of industry, including Larry Page, Dick Costolo, Ben Horowitz, and Marissa Mayer are fans.
Steven Sinofsky, a partner at top venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz who previously ran Windows at Microsoft, said he bought a pair because he’s “just a guy trying to fit in.”
The fashionable duo behind Warby Parker, Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, said in an interview that Allbirds are their go-to travel shoes. They invested in the company in 2016.
The company had a “very successful year” following the release of the Wool Runners in 2016, Brown, a former professional soccer player from New Zealand, told Business Insider. Allbirds would not disclose revenue, but said first-year sales of the sneaker beat projections five-fold.
Allbirds’ charmed run has not been without difficulties. In 2017, a writer at Yahoo Finance reported that Silicon Valley’s favorite sneaker has “a wear-and-tear problem.” Half a dozen people who own the shoes told Yahoo Finance that the shoes fall apart when worn on a regular basis, and some buyers on the internet agreed that the $95 shoes aren’t made to last.
Brown and Zwillinger told Business Insider that the new Tree Runners were designed for durability. The 3D-knitting machine uses more yarn around the toe and sides of the shoe to prevent stretching. The process also creates less waste because only the materials used are “printed.”
I tested out a review pair of the Tree Runners at the South by Southwest tech conference last weekend. I also own several wool sneakers from Allbirds.
Being on my feet during 17-hour days was tolerable in the soft cradle of Allbirds’ new kicks. The Tree Runners have gaps in the knit that made them breathable on a 90-degree day in Texas. The shoes provided the support of a traditional sneaker with the cool looks of a skipper.
The biggest annoyance was the shoelaces, which are now made from recycled water bottles. The laces came undone constantly, which I attributed to their smooth texture.
But overall, the new shoes should not disappoint fans.