Allbirds, the footwear retailer known best for selling wool sneakers, has raised $50 million in funding led by T. Rowe Price. With the funding, Allbirds is now valued of $1.4 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Tiger Global and Fidelity Investments also participated in the round.
The digital native, with flagship stores in San Francisco and New York City, already has plans to open eight more stores in the U.S. and is opening its first London store next week. The funding will assist the retailer in expanding both its brick-and-mortar store presence and its international shipping capabilities. Allbirds reportedly is seeking to open a store in Asia as well, although there has been no indication where it would be built. The company currently ships to locations across the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and Canada, and plans to ship throughout the UK in 2019.
Allbirds has developed several different sustainable materials — wool, eucalyptus and sugar-based foam — for its footwear line, which includes sneakers and flip-flops.
“Climate change is the problem of our generation and the private sector has a responsibility to combat it,” said Zwillinger in a statement. “This injection of capital will help us bring our sustainable products to more people around the globe, demonstrating that comfort, design and sustainability don’t have to live exclusive of each other.”
Investors tied up roughly $170 million in an assortment of shoe-related startups from Jan 2017 to June 2018, according to Crunchbase. Top funding recipients include online used sneaker marketplace GOAT, which procured a $60 million funding round, and e-Commerce “stock market” StockX, which raised $44 million in September 2018.
The recent footwear funding activity comes as the industry continues its healthy growth. The global footwear market reached $246 billion in 2017, with projected annual growth rates of approximately 4.5% between 2017 and 2023, according to Zion Market Research.