- Allbirds is releasing a brand-new style: a flip-flop that costs $35.
- The shoe is limited-run and uses the newest material the company has developed, a foam sole material made with sugar plants instead of petrochemicals.
- The environmentally friendly foam will also be used in the soles of the rest of its lineup in the coming months, and will hopefully also used by competitors.
Allbirds isn’t going to let summer fly away before making its mark.
Retailing for $35, the shoe is made with the company’s newest material development. The sole of the shoe is made with what the company is billing as the first carbon-neutral green EVA foam.
Most EVA foam for shoe soles is made with petrochemicals, like oil, but Allbirds has partnered with Brazilian chemical company Braskem to make it out of sugarcane.
The flip-flops, which are a limited run, are the celebration of a breakthrough co-founder Joey Zwillinger says is three years in the making. The new sole technology will make its way over to the rest of Allbirds’ shoe lineup, but a million dollars’ worth of equipment needs to be installed first. Zwillinger said it’s only a matter of a few months before that happens, though.
The new sole will be even more comfortable than the foam the company currently uses in its shoes, according to Zwillinger. He said that Allbirds even collaborated with a bra manufacturer to make sure the strap of the shoe would be comfortable.
For the rest of the line, the new sugarcane sole won’t look much different. The sugarcane EVA foam completes the trifecta of renewable materials Allbirds has developed, Zwillinger says, including the original Merino wool upper and the eucalyptus tree fiber upper the company released earlier in 2018.
“That’s the simple, tangible, and very elemental description we like to play around with,” Zwillinger said.
Zwillinger says the new foam is not proprietary, and Allbirds is encouraging other companies, even competitors, to take up use of the new foam, which would make it better – and likely cheaper to use – for all participants.
“We agreed from the get-go that we want this to be used broadly,” Zwillinger said. “We want it to be used in our industry, we’re happy to have competitors use it.”
And while the flip-flops are only available for a limited time, Zwillinger said they could be back next summer.
“We’ll definitely consider bringing them back,” Zwillinger said. “If it blows the door out and people absolutely fall in love with it, we always listen to our customers, so this is one of those where we’re certainly going to have our ears to the ground and hear what the reactions like and then move from there.”