Leonardo DiCaprio is also investing in the San Francisco-based sustainable sneaker company Allbirds.
Silicon Valley’s coolest sneaker company is slipping into something even more comfortable.
Allbirds, the eco-friendly, San Francisco-based sneaker startup with a cult-like following, will now sell flip-flops. Sugar Zeffers, as they’re called, come in four colors (orange, blue, gray and yellow) priced at $35 a pair, with the option to buy interchangeable woven straps available for an extra $15.
Unlike most flip-flops, which are made from EVA, a plastic material that can be harmful to the environment, Allbirds created an eco-friendly, foam-like alternative called Sweetfoam using a sole material made from renewable sugarcane — hence the name Sugar Zeffers. The cushioned shoes, which contour to feet and are available for men and women, will be sold exclusively online and in Allbirds stores in New York City, San Francisco and Toronto.
“We will introduce SweetFoam across our product portfolio, while also encouraging the entire footwear industry to follow our lead and bring this renewable green-EVA technology into their companies through open-source product development,” Allbirds said in a press release. “Our hope is that this innovation will spur an industry sea-change and shift one of the dirtiest, and most widely used materials to be greener than ever before.”
The company is also getting financial backing from a very on-brand investor, avid climate change and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio. The actor’s foundation donated $1 million to help protect marine life in Seychelles earlier this year, and in 2017, his foundation donated a $20 million grant to help fight climate change. In late 2016, he met with then-President-elect Trump to sway his views on climate change, though Trump ultimately made the controversial decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord.
“Creating sustainable consumer products requires a deep commitment from brands that understand the role they have in helping solve our environmental crisis,” DiCaprio said in an statement to People magazine. “Allbirds is on the forefront of developing new materials that will serve as a model for the footwear industry. This kind of innovation is crucial for creating a more sustainable future. I am proud to join the company as an investor.”
Proud to be an investor in @Allbirds, a company dedicated to creating a more sustainable future by developing new materials and serving as a model for the footwear industry. Learn more: https://t.co/hmAn6cqdg5.
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) August 1, 2018
Despite being the staple summer shoe, the flip-flop has actually seen a decline in sales as consumers favor the more on-trend slide. Flip-flop sales in the U.S. from April through September 2017 declined by 9% from the previous year. Meanwhile, sales of sports slides grew by 31% during those months, according to retail market research firm NPD Group. Total U.S. sneaker sales, meanwhile, rose 2% to $19.6 billion last year, according to NPD. And sales of “running-inspired” sneakers rose 39%, while “casual athletic” styles rose 24% last year.
Allbirds has gained major traction for its comfortable sneakers, which feel like you’re “walking on a cloud,” according to Conde Nast Traveler. The $95 Wool Runner sneaker, worn by the likes of Google co-founder Larry Page, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and venture capitalist Mary Meeker, is crafted entirely from superfine merino wool and flexible rubber. AllBirds’ site says they’re “naturally soft, cozy all over, and (fit) your every move.”
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