If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to wear slippers to work, look no further than Allbirds, the future of sustainable sneaker fashion.
Now listen, I’m a true skeptic when it comes to self-proclaimed “miracle” shoes. There’s a three-step checklist any shoe of mine must pass: comfort (Can I walk 10 blocks in Manhattan without blisters or aching soles?), the breaking-in period (Will I need to spend an extra $20 at the cobbler — yes, those still exist — to speed up the “stretching-out” process?), and durability (Will these last me into next year?).
While it’s hard to definitively say if Allbirds will stand up to my two-year durability test (Note: I do have my reservations given its lightweight, wool material), pulling them on was something akin to melting into a brand-new memory foam mattress. In short, it was instant, pure comfiness. Like all good things, I half-expected that luxurious feeling to fade throughout the day, but it persisted. While the price of the “Wool Runners” is on the higher-end, at $95, there’s nothing like guaranteed comfort.
Upon the first try-on, I was very aware of the hard rigidity of the heel counter on the back of the shoes. But, after a few minutes of walking around my apartment, my feet soon melded with the sneakers, conforming to every step with ease. For me, the break-in period was all of 10 minutes, but the company does say it could take up to two weeks for them to feel fully comfortable. And rest-assured, they will feel comfy with every step.
I wasn’t quite ready to go sockless on my first wear — anyone else remember the year Toms took over the world and the ever-present stench of sweaty feet permeated the air? — but by day 2, I fully embraced summer and ditched the socks, and the comfort level felt much the same, if not more soft and cozy.
Now, I’ll be real, there’s no way you can wear any shoe without socks and expect odorless perfection, especially when that shoe is made of wool. (Wool + 90°F summer heat = sweat, and a lot of it.) Even Allbirds recognizes this, which is why it offers insole replacements for down the line. But the sneakers are also easy enough to throw in the wash on delicate should they start to smell less than pleasant. Just make sure to skip the dryer to avoid damage and instead let them air dry in the sun.
You can also take comfort in knowing these shoes are environmentally friendly, down to the recycled cardboard used for the shoe boxes they’re delivered in. Every day we’re told the world is ending, what with rising sea levels and the highest concentration of carbon dioxide in human history, so you can feel a little bit better about your carbon footprint by making a greener investment for your feet.
Using sustainable materials, the laces are made from recycled plastic bottles, and the shoes themselves are built with stretchable ZQ Merino wool, which allows for Allbirds to use 60% less energy during their process as opposed to other common synthetic materials.
It’s also worth noting that I am not a sneaker girl. Unless I am heading to the gym or going for a brisk walk in the woods, you will not find me succumbing to the fashion trend that sneakers are chic enough to be worn with almost anything. But Allbirds just look cool. They’ve taken a seemingly simple, classic design and paired it with bold colors that pop on the street. (While gray, white, and black are the main colors, the company also offers a rotation of limited-edition shades, from honey yellow to a bright teal.) What makes Allbirds different from other fashion-forward sneaker brands is in its simplicity. This sneaker isn’t trying too hard, and it shows.
So, would I go running in these shoes? Absolutely not given their lack of solid structuring (which is a bit misleading considering the company touts their sneakers as runners). I also suspect these wouldn’t be the best shoes to workout in due to, you guessed it, sweat — moisture-wicking wool or not. But for a reliably good walking shoe, Allbirds are a true standout.