Allbirds, the footwear-maker of choice among tech workers in Silicon Valley and self-proclaimed makers of the world’s most comfortable shoe, turned to South Africa for its latest product.
The $95 (roughly R1,100) Tree Runners were released by Allbirds on Thursday.
It uses eucalyptus fibres sourced from South African farms to create a “light and breezy” running shoe.
Working together with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Zwilliger and his partner, footballer Tim Brown, sourced domestic eucalyptus.
Compared to traditional materials like cotton, eucalyptus uses 95% less water and it helped to cut the company’s carbon footprint in half.
“[Eucalyptus trees] are basically carbon-eating machines,” Zwilliger explains.
Eucalyptus is an invasive tree in South Africa, threatening water supplies and releasing chemicals which kills native competitors.
Since its launch in 2014, Allbirds have developed near cult following among tech workers in Silicon Valley. Google cofounder Larry Page and former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer swear by its shoes.
The company raised $17.5 million of funding in 2017 which allowed it to open stores in San Francisco and New York City, and launch a children’s line called Smallbirds.
Steven Sinofsky, a partner at top venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz who previously ran Windows at Microsoft, said he bought a pair of the company’s Merino wool shoes because he’s “just a guy trying to fit in.”
- Source: businessinsider.co.za