Despite being started by New Zealand entrepreneur and former footballer Tim Brown, wool-based footwear brand Allbirds has only been available online its home country – until now.
The launch comes after the business successfully raised $76.7 million at the end of 2018, aiming to help fuel the business’ expansion into Asia and the UK.
The company, which is headquartered in San Francisco, opened its first New Zealand bricks-and-mortar store in the Britomart precinct of Auckland last week on Thursday, August 15.
“We always imagined we would open a store in New Zealand. It’s one of our founding markets, it’s where I am from and where our key material, wool, is from,” Allbirds co-founder Tim Brown said, according to Stuff.
Allbirds makes its shoes predominantly with New Zealand merino wool, which helps to make them ‘the world’s most comfortable shoes’, the brand’s tagline.
Wool uses 60 per cent less energy than materials used in a synthetic shoes, according to the brand, which also uses recycled bottles for laces, bean oil in insoles and 90 per cent recycled cardboard in its packaging.
Allbirds are available internationally online, and through bricks-and-mortar stores in the US, UK and China. The Britomart store is the brand’s first location in its home country of New Zealand.
The 150sqm store offers the brand’s entire range, as well as limited-edition Auckland-inspired laces: Waiheke Island Teal, Light Path Magenta, and West Coast Black Sand.
The retailer offered a number of events, such as dried flower arranging workshops, meditation classes and drawing classes, in the first week of the store’s operation.
According to Brown, it is a challenge to transpose the brand’s online experience into an offline one.
“Bad retail is being challenged and good retail, thoughtful retail that is about storytelling and leans into the people that work there, that has educated people working in that environment that understand the products and are able to give a good experience is old fashioned and important,” Brown said to Stuff.
This story first appeared on our sister site Inside Retail Australia.