Founded by ex-soccer player Tim Brown and renewables expert Joey Zwillinger in 2016, Allbirds has grown from an online-only retailer into a global brand serving 35 countries, with 21 brick-and-mortar stores worldwide.
“The response we’ve received thus far has been beyond what we could’ve ever imagined when we first started this,” Zwillinger said. “Our customers understand this is about something bigger–doing our part as a private company to address the problem of our generation. We believe that our mission works better at scale and we are thrilled to launch Allbirds in Korea, bringing sustainability to more wardrobes around the world.”
Zwillinger said from the early days of the company’s international expansion, its sights have been set on the Korean market, particularly given its heritage ties to Busan, where its Wool Runner is made.
“Thanks to its leading global position in style and aesthetic, we consider the Korean market an essential gateway for us in building long term success throughout Asia,” he said.
Leading Allbirds’s growth in international markets is Sandeep Verma, head of international. After launching and building Allbirds’s European operations in 2018, Verma has successfully led a team of 40 in opening four brick-and-mortar stores in London, Berlin and Amsterdam and has expanded the e-commerce business to include 28 European countries in just 18 months.
“As we continue to expand our international footprint, we’re excited to finally enter the Korean market and connect with our existing community here, further establishing Allbirds as an important sustainable fashion player in Asia,” Verma stated. “Allbirds’s mission to tread lighter on the planet has resonated with people far and wide, from Berlin to New York, to L.A. and Shanghai, and we’re delighted to share our purpose-led products and world-class level of care with our Korean customers.”
Known for its logo-free sneakers, Allbirds crafts products from a suite of regenerative natural materials, including ZQ-certified New Zealand Merino wool, FSC-certified Eucalyptus Tree fiber and SweetFoam, a proprietary innovation made with sugarcane. Developed by Allbirds in partnership with Braskem, a Brazilian green energy company, the innovation has been open-sourced to the entire industry and beyond. To date, more than 100 companies have inquired about incorporating the material in their supply chains. And Adidas recently partnered with Allbirds in a bid to make a performance shoe with the lowest carbon footprint.
The manufacturing process behind Allbirds’s Wool shoes consumes 60 percent less energy than typical sneakers, and the brand’s Tree line uses 95 percent less water and has half of the carbon impact compared to traditional footwear. Allbirds’ shoe laces are made from recycled plastic bottles and the insoles are derived from castor bean oil.