The last place I thought I’d turn to for fashion inspiration is Silicon Valley, but it turns out that techies are on to something with their latest shoe obsession. Made of super-soft merino wool, Allbirds are the sustainable sneakers taking over the tech world’s hearts and soles, with the Internet calling them “the world’s most comfortable shoes”—and they’re so cute that I had to try them on for size!
You know how sometimes you don’t notice something until someone points it out, and then you see it everywhere? That’s what happened to me when my friend sent me the Allbirds website to ask what I thought of their commitment to sustainability.
My immediate reactions were:
- These shoes look so cute and potentially very comfy!
- Wearable without socks and machine washable??? Seems too good to be true…
- They do seem to care a lot about sustainability. And about sheep. I also care about sustainability and sheep.
So I gave her my two cents. And then I started seeing these shoes all around Seattle—at the bus stop, on my commute, even at work! And then I bought their wool loungers, because I actually needed a pair of comfy, walkable slip-ons and I was so curious about the hype.
Here’s the run-down of their sustainability and ethics:
- Their merino wool is ZQ-certified, which means that it meets standards of sustainable farming and animal welfare.
- Using wool for the upper and castor beans for the soles uses 60% less energy than the synthetic materials in other sneakers.
- Their packaging uses 40% less materials than traditional shoe packaging.
- They are a certified B-Corporation, which means they meet certain standards of sustainability, accountability, and transparency.
- They partner with Soles4Souls to donate used shoes to communities in need.
Ok, so are Allbirds really the world’s most comfortable shoe? The review:
I bought the wool loungers in Wexler Salmon, which is part of a collaboration series that Allbirds does with small businesses. It’s a muted grey upper with millennial pink (ok, salmon) soles. Unfortunately, these are no longer available, but they have other shades in a muted color palette.
aesthetic: I think they’re really cute! The grey pairs with any outfit and the pink soles add a little extra pop of color to my step. I also love how the wool looks so cozy and plush, making these loungers stand out from the typical canvas slip-on.
comfort: My first reaction to slipping on my wool loungers was unbridled glee. Holy sh!t, I had no idea shoes could be this soft! “It’s like walking on clouds!!!” I informed my boyfriend. The padded insoles are made of the same soft wool as the uppers, making each step feel super luxurious and dreamy. Plus, you can skip socks! I hate wearing socks and shoes (sorry to all my coworkers who have seen me chillin’ without my shoes at my desk) so it’s magical for me that these shoes can be easily put on and removed and don’t require socks.
The only issue I’ve had is that the little tab at the back of the ankle can be irritating after walking for a while. When I brought them on my Vancouver trip, they chafed the backs of my ankles (blood was shed!! I mean, only a little, but still) so I had to use bandaids. Then, because the shoes kept chafing and rubbing the bandaids off my ankles, I had to flatten the back of the shoe and wear them like mules. Not a cute look.
While breaking them in, I wore them with socks, which eliminated the chafing issue and it felt like a warm snuggly bed on a winter morning for my feet…although it looks ridiculously frumpy.
After a couple weeks, they’ve finally been broken them in. And they’re now really comfy. I think they may be the comfiest shoes I’ve ever worn!
However, for my readers with sensitive feet, these shoes have zero arch support. I think the wool insoles are just too soft to give adequate support, unfortunately.
function: These are great for walking and exploring cities, besides the aforementioned ankle-chafing issue. They’re a great lazy shoe for running errands and everyday activities. I wouldn’t wear them for anything more athletic than walking, just because the shoe is a bit loose compared to lace-up sneakers and I also wouldn’t want to ruin the wool. Also, I love wearing them to work because they actually feel like slippers and I can just slip them off when I’m sitting down all day.
Another cool feature: Since they’re made of merino wool, they have temperature regulating properties! They’re snuggly and warm for these chilly autumn days, but when I wore them on hot summer days they didn’t get unbearably hot.
sizing: I am a size 6 in sneakers and the size 6 fits me well. They’re a teeny bit loose because of the nature of the wool, but I wouldn’t size down.
care: The website recommends taking care of these shoes like you would a sweater—that is, hand washing when necessary is best and machine washing is okay, but can shorten the lifespan of your shoes. I’ll definitely opt to hand wash because although the wool is pretty sturdy, I’d hate for machine washing to ruin their shape and softness.
I’ve also noticed that puffs of wool pill up on the insoles with wear, which is totally normal but means that over time, the insoles will lose their cloud-like magic. Luckily, Allbirds sells replacement insoles on their site.
The bottom line: Allbirds make cute, comfy sneakers which are a great natural and sustainable alternative to other casual sneakers on the market and, in my opinion, reasonably priced at $95. The loungers may take some breaking in, but are seriously like clouds for your feet (and I hear their lace-up runners don’t have the unfortunate ankle-chafing issue). Once they’re broken in, and if you don’t need arch support, these babies may actually be the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. And no sheep are harmed!
Thanks to my friend Kristi for introducing me to Allbirds!
Have you tried Allbirds? Let me know your fave sustainable and ethical sneaker brands!
Top: DIY (your girl got herself a new sewing machine and is living out her childhood dreams of becoming a fashion designer!!)
Skirt: thrifted, American Apparel
Shoes: Allbirds wool loungers in Wexler Salmon (this color is no longer available)
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