Allbirds, a retailer known best for selling wool sneakers, is joining the ranks of companies like Casper and Everlane by expanding its business from pure play to physical. The retailer opened its first permanent flagship store in New York City on Sept. 4. The opening coincided with the company’s reveal of its revamped San Francisco store, which first opened early in 2018.
The 4,800-square-foot New York store, located in the SoHo district on Spring Street, will include a "service bar" for finding the right shoe size.The new location will replace the retailer’s 900-square-foot temporary home on Prince Street, which is closing this week.
Allbirds worked with Partners & Spade to design and develop the in-store try-on experience, which is meant to reflect the product in that it is "un-designed" and comfortable for shoppers. The store itself is very minimalist in design, with only a handful of shoes on display, organized by style (skippers, loungers, runners or flip-flops called “zeffers”) and material (wool, trees or sugarcane). Near each display, there are details of what the shoes are made of and how they're made. Additionally, the store sells extras on display such as laces or insoles.
The retailer has raised $27.5 million, which has helped the company research and develop new, sustainable materials for its shoes, according to Allbirds co-founder Joey Zwillinger. Allbirds’ signature footwear is made from renewable Merino wool, but the brand has since expanded its offering to include sneakers called Tree Runners, made of naturally derived and renewable eucalyptus tree fiber, and SweetFoam flip-flops, which are made from a sugar-based outsole material.
Allbirds has signed leases in Chicago and Boston, and has plans for stores in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. in the works, the company said. The brand aims to open eight stores in the U.S. in the next year and two permanent locations outside the country.