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Allbirds Calls in Streetwear Icon for In-Your-Face Sneaker

Allbirds just put a bird on it—or a pigeon, to be more precise.

The cult-fave footwear brand roped in graphic artist and streetwear designer Jeff Staple to create a limited-edition Tree Dasher with the “Staple pigeon” perched near the heel.

Staple, Allbirds said, turned the lace-free sneaker “inside out” to show off its natural materials: New Zealand merino wool, Forest Stewardship Council-certified eucalyptus tree fiber and Brazilian sugarcane-derived SweetFoam.

Available in both men’s and women’s sizes, the $150 Staple Dasher borrow its color cues from its avian muse: shades of gray with streaks of scarlet around the ankle and on the sole.

The shoe also presents an Allbirds first. Emblazoned on the flank are the numbers “+9.2,” indicating that its manufacturing contributed 9.2 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent to the environment.

“Nobody really talks about the environmental impact of a new outfit. Which is part of the problem,” the certified B Corp wrote on its website. “That’s why we’re labeling everything we make with its carbon footprint. But if we want to see meaningful change, it’ll take more than just us.”

Earlier this year, Allbirds became one of the first fashion brands to tag its products with a carbon “score card” that sums up the volume of emissions generated by their production, including materials, manufacturing, use and end of life. (Those from transportation are not included because of their high variability.) Reformation does something similar with its RefScale for clothing.

The Staple Dasher poses less of a strain on the environment than a standard sneaker, which generates an average of 12.5 carbon dioxide equivalent, the company said. “We’re putting that number on display for everyone to see, because we’ve got nothing to hide when it comes to reducing our environmental impact,” it added.

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Speaking at a virtual Climate Week NYC event in September, vice president of innovation and sustainability Jad Finck compared the score to the nutrition label on grocery items, noting that he wants it to be just as ubiquitous.

“We want it to be as easy and as simple and as expected as nutritional facts on food,” he said. “You can turn around every piece of food you buy in the grocery store and figure out the calories [and] make your own choices. We think that should be a responsibility of everybody producing things today.”

Still, labor advocates would like to see Allbirds take the same tack with the people who make its shoes.

A recent transparency report by fashion nonprofit Remake criticized Allbirds for scoring under 36 out of a possible 100 points, landing the brand under the “Offenders” category for its opacity around labor conditions.

“You’ll find all sorts of celebrities endorsing Allbirds, but the brand has a ways to go with its sustainability practices,” Remake wrote in the report. “Kudos to the brand for accounting for carbon offsets and sharing the locations of their factories, but unfortunately there are no details on the brand’s site detailing who is actually making these shoes, how they are treated or what they are paid.”