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San Francisco-based Allbirds introduces its ridiculously soft Wool Runner to the world today. However, the minimalist shoe-slash-sneaker, made of a one-of-a-kind natural textile, already has some serious fans. Early-bird investors include Warby Parker's Dave Gilboa and Ben Lerer of Thrillest. Currently, the six-person company has $2.7 million in funding. (Nice.)
The $95 shoes for men and women are available in five colors (charcoal, green, navy, light blue and red) and can be purchased online only. Newsflash: The company's generous return policy will give wishy-washy types all the feels: Along with free shipping, there's a 30-day guarantee or get your money back. No strings. All returned shoes will go to Sole4Soles.
So what is it about these kicks and their "miracle" wool that make them so special? Co-founders Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger are so glad you asked. "We have a design philosophy centered on simplicity and the use of innovative natural materials, and the resulting product— the Wool Runner—is incredibly comfortable, and as perfectly suited for the pub as it is for the office or gym," says Brown, a former professional soccer player in New Zealand and graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
It took more than two years to develop the proprietary material made of ultra-fine New Zealand merino wool, which is produced in a famed (shall not be named) textile mill in Italy. (The softness factor is truly off the charts.) Its rubber-blend outsole is also proprietary and designed to reduce raw material usage while providing high comfort. Throw ‘em in the wash, no problemo.
"We think there is a big opportunity to develop high quality shoes by using nature's incredible breadth of materials instead of the synthetic by-products of petroleum that the footwear industry typically relies on," adds Zwillinger, a biotech engineer and renewable materials expert.
And can we talk about the packaging? It's a super-cool shoe box and shipper in one.