Allbirds is one of the hottest footwear brands in recent years – and it’s not just because its shoes are made of wool.
The sneaker startup came about when Tim Brown, a New Zealand native, teamed up with San Francisco-based engineer and renewables expert Joey Zwillinger.
In 2016, they launched their first shoe, the Allbirds Wool Runners – a sneaker that’s innovative, comfortable, and sustainable. The brand quickly became popular because of its use of merino wool.
Why merino wool makes sense for sneakers
Most people think wool would be hot and itchy, but Allbirds uses a proprietary dual-faced wool that’s super soft and itch-free on the interior and dirt-resistant on the exterior.
With Allbirds’ special construction, the wool actually has many natural properties that make for amazing sneakers. They’re lightweight and breathable, cool in the heat, warm in the cold, and for those that like to go sockless, they’re odor-resistant. And the best part is, you can throw these sneakers in the washing machine, instead of meticulously scrubbing away stains like you would with traditional sneakers. If you’re looking for a pair of sneakers that are comfortable, durable, stylish, and affordable, Allbirds is the solution.
Still, the most popular and recognizable shoe from Allbirds is undoubtedly the Wool Runner, which many members of the Insider Reviews team have tried over the years. Read on for our thoughts on how they feel and fit, plus how they’ve held up since we first tested them in 2017.
September 2017 review: Silicon Valley is obsessed with these wool shoes, and now I understand why. I love wearing sneakers with dresses or skirts to add a sporty-casual feel, and my white Allbirds Runners were a seamless addition into my weekend daytime look.
One day, I wore these shoes after spending the entire previous day in heeled boots, and my sore feet seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. I’d normally be a little paranoid trying to care for bright white shoes, but I don’t worry at all about any scuffs or dirt that attack these shoes since I can just throw them in the washing machine at any time.
April 2021 update: The Wool Runners are still one of my favorite sneakers to wear because of their soft and supportive comfort. I used to wear the shoes without socks, but now I usually wear socks because I’ve discovered they’re even more comfortable that way. From experience, the insoles can start to smell if you go barefoot for too long, so that’s another reason to pair your Allbirds with some socks. Or, hand-wash those insoles often.
While I love white shoes, the maintenance is admittedly more intensive than one of the many other colors Allbirds offers. If I could go back, I think I would choose a different color (and luckily, there are plenty to choose from).
Another thing to note is that after a few years of regular wear, the soles wear out and the shoes feel less supportive. If you plan on wearing them often, don’t expect them to last too long. Still, I’d buy them again because they’re just that comfortable!
Malarie Gokey, Insider Reviews deputy editor
Women’s Wool Runners (small)
September 2017 review: I don’t wear sneakers very often, but when I do, they have to be comfortable and stylish. The Allbirds Runners meet both requirements in spades. These merino wool shoes are ridiculously soft — I couldn’t stop touching them when they first arrived!
I’ve never worn sneakers without socks before, but the wool was so silky and smooth that I gave it a try, and it worked. The Runners are super comfortable to walk in, and they’re also very light and breathable with or without socks.
April 2021 update: I don’t wear my Allbird runners too often, so I can’t speak to how much heavy wear they can withstand, but they’ve held up to light wear well. I wore them on a long hike once and they got a bit dirty, so I washed them by hand, and they looked like new afterwards. Anyone who’s ever labored over a pair of dirty or stained sneakers knows just how convenient it is to be able to wash your shoes without ruining them. They also seem to get more comfortable with age as they mold to my feet.
Amir Ismael, Insider Reviews senior reporter
Men’s Wool Runners (small)
September 2017 review: Before I even got to the actual shoes, my first impression on receiving my Allbirds Wool Runners was the box. As a sneaker collector, the box is sometimes just as important as the shoes themselves — it’s definitely something I wouldn’t throw away. Building on its efforts to improve sustainability, Allbirds ships its shoes in the same box that they’re stored in. The box unfolds and two separate compartments hold each sneaker.
Once I did get to the shoes, I was immediately impressed. When I think of lightweight sneakers, mesh or engineered knit comes to mind first — not wool. Upon learning about Allbirds, I actually thought wool sneakers were a bad idea, but the Wool Runners definitely proved me wrong.
The Allbirds sneakers are super comfortable, lightweight, and stylish. I’m able to wear them all day long because of the plush insoles and flexible outsole. I went with the Natural Grey pair for a minimal and subdued look, and I absolutely love them.
October 2019 update: I wore my Allbirds a few times after I initially reviewed them and they held up wonderfully. I can remember them being comfortable and surprisingly cool in warm weather, despite being made out of wool. As much as I liked them, I ended up donating them last year because I have way too many sneakers. They were still in lightly-used condition, so I can’t speak to how quick or badly they wear out.
Over the past two years, Allbirds has come out with several different shoe designs, but the original Wool Runner is still my favorite. I definitely wouldn’t mind owning another pair, but I know I’d have a hard time picking out a color — there are just so many great ones to choose from now.
Ranging in price from $95-$145, they’re likely not a purchase you can simply make on the fly.
We’ve compared their most important features to help decide on a pair you’ll love.
Of all the types of shoes in my closet, the ones I could most easily see myself writing a lengthy love letter to are my flats.
Anyone who has ever owned a pair of comfortable flats knows what I’m talking about. They’re the easiest shoes to put on and take off, they can work for casual or formal settings, they barely take up any space in a suitcase, and if we’re talking about the right pair, they won’t make your feet light up with pain every time you take a step. These types of flats aren’t easy to find, but we’ve been lucky enough to have collected some true gems and favorites. Quite a few are made by newer brands, like Everlane and Rothy’s.
Rothy’s has been making women’s flats for four years now, and up until recently, was arguably the startup to find stylish and comfortable knit flats. We’ve worn them for more than a year and they still live up to that distinction.
However, in May 2019, a strong challenger by the name of Allbirds entered the ring. Hearing that it was coming out with knit flats of its own, we knew we had to try them out and immediately began drawing comparisons with Rothy’s flats. After regular wear, we can confirm the Allbirds flats are truly comfortable and durable.
If you’re stuck between Rothy’s and Allbirds, we’ve broken them down by a few factors so you can determine which one is best for your use and budget.
Our team really likes both so we can’t give a conclusive answer on which is better – it all depends on your specific preferences. For a few more options to consider, check out our guide to the best flats you can buy.
Read on for a direct comparison between Rothy’s and Allbirds flats below.
Meet the companies, Rothy’s and Allbirds.
Rothy’s and Allbirds have a lot in common. Both founded in 2015 in the San Francisco Bay Area, the startups quickly became popular in the area for their practical and sustainable approach to footwear and gained the funding to prove their future potential. They’ve also found an audience in East Coast cities like New York, where the culture of walking makes the search for cute and comfortable flats even more dire.
The flats look pretty similar, but if you take a closer look, the silhouettes have subtle differences, and you also have different color options to consider.
Rothy’s makes two different flat styles: rounded toe flats ($125) and pointed toe flats ($145), letting you decide between a versatile, everyday flat or something better suited to polished occasions. They come in a variety of neutral and bright colors, as well as flashy prints. These colors and prints rotate out from time to time, so there are always new ones to choose from.
An easy way to identify Rothy’s flats is the blue stripe at the heel of the shoe and the knit fabric. Both flats have an angular, V-style opening, which can help your feet look longer or more slender.
Allbirdsmakes one flat style, the Tree Breezer ($95), currently available in 21 colors. Allbirds has a history of releasing limited-edition colors quite often, so check its site, social media, or the Insider Reviews page to find the latest options.
Its flat has a rounded toe and rounded opening, with a mesh knit fabric that’s more noticeable than Rothy’s. The “collar” of the opening is also more obvious and is made from a ribbed knit, so it hugs your foot more closely.
Plastic water bottles and eucalyptus: how Rothy’s and Allbirds make innovative use of these two materials.
Uppers: Knit fabric made from sustainably harvested eucalyptus pulp
Insoles: Merino wool and castor bean oil
Outsoles: “SweetFoam” made from Brazilian sugarcane
Both companies pride themselves on using sustainable materials to make comfortable shoes. Conveniently, both their shoes are machine-washable (but take the insoles out first), making it easy to keep them in top shape.
Their sustainable construction doesn’t detract from their comfort.
Rothy’s fit true to size, but if you have wide feet or fear toe crowding in the pointed flat style, you should go up half a size. They mold to your foot and are breathable, with slight give so you can still wiggle your toes around in them. They’re great for summertime wear since they stay slick and dry. I’ve been wearing and washing mine for nearly a year and they don’t stretch out.
Allbirds recommends going up half a size for its flats, which tend toward a more snug feel. The cushioned insoles are supportive, and the overall feel of the flat is softer and thicker than Rothy’s. If you plan on being very active, you might like Allbirds’ flats more because of the aforementioned collar that grasps onto your foot.
Both companies’ flats are light, really comfortable, and made for all-day wear — we wouldn’t be writing about them if they weren’t. Thanks to their unique designs, however, they do feel comfortable in different ways. You can get both Rothy’s and Allbirds in half sizes (a first for Allbirds).
You’ll pay around $100 for Rothy’s and Allbirds flats.
Allbirds flats, like all Allbirds shoes, cost $95.
If you don’t want to spend more than $100, Allbirds are the obvious choice, but there’s the trade-off of fewer print options, not to mention the fact that they tend to sell out more quickly. If you’re willing to spend $30 to $50 more for Rothy’s, you’ve widened your options and are likely to receive your shoes more quickly.
The bottom line
We love both Rothy’s and Allbirds flats and wear them often. If you’re already familiar with the feel of Allbirds sneakers and like that, you should go with the Allbirds Tree Breezers. They’re soft and cushion-y, with an almost sock-like feel and the added plus of an under-$100 price point. However, if you want more color and print options and a less cushioned (but still comfortable) feel, try one of Rothy’s flats.
Read our reviews of the Runners and Skippers, plus an update after nearly three years of wear, below.
Chances are you’ve heard about Allbirds, the internet-famous $95 sneakers made from soft Merino wool.
We’ve tested them before, and our team universally feels that they’re pretty much the most comfortable shoes out there (read our review on the wool Loungers here, the Runners here, and the Runner-Up Mizzle here). In fact, an Insider Reviews survey showed that Allbirds was one of our readers’ favorite products that they have purchased as a result of an article we wrote.
There are a lot of reasons people like these shoes beyond just how comfortable they are. They’re also relatively affordable from $95-$145 a pair and they’re easy to clean with a simple spin in the washing machine. But for some, the biggest draw is the fact that the company maintains a deep, unshakable commitment to sustainability.
It’s this commitment that led the brand in early 2018 to develop and introduce an even more sustainable set of shoes made from trees – or more specifically, from a textile engineered using eucalyptus pulp.
According to Allbirds, this material uses 95% less water and cuts its carbon footprint in half when compared to traditional footwear materials.
Naturally, considering that merino wool prices have been steadily climbing, we wondered if the production of these shoes was intended to offset the increased cost of producing their wool line. After all, Allbirds is beloved in part because their shoes have maintained a steady and reasonable price since the very start. But the brand assured us that the idea for new, sustainable textiles had been in the works since before they even launched their original Runners in 2016.
We spoke with the founders of Allbirds, Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger, who told Insider that they’ve always envisioned Allbirds as a sustainable material innovation company. “For us, it was about creating a brand that challenges the status quo and redefines what it means to make something ‘better.”
The Tree Collection styles
The line, aptly named the “Tree collection,” is made up of six styles, including the Runners and Loungers that we already know and love, a pair they call the Skippers, which are similar to a boat sneaker, and a high-top Topper sneaker.
The material creates a cooling effect by wicking moisture away, making them perfect for summer. The makeup of the insoles has stayed consistent, so you can still expect the same comfort level as their classic pairs. The women’s styles come in up to 11 colors, and the men’s styles come in up to 12 colors.
As longtime fans of the brand, our team was given the chance by Allbirds to test out the Tree Runners and Tree Skippers. Keep reading to find a breakdown of each of our experiences with the styles (spoiler alert: they’re still really, really great).
Read our initial reviews, plus an update after nearly three years of wear, below:
Mara Leighton, Insider Reviews senior reporter:
March 2018 review: Allbirds is one of my favorite companies to shop from because they have always exceeded expectations on comfort, quality, and style. In other words, they’ve earned my trust as a valuable buy. I don’t feel bad dropping money on a new pair of shoes from them because I know I will wear them until they’re borderline disintegrating – and I will be glad every time I put them on. It sounds like an exaggeration, but they’re really that comfortable.
I tried the Tree Runner in navy, which is actually a nice dark green-blue in person (less bright than a true teal), and – again – Allbirds has exceeded my expectations. They’re crazy comfortable, the silhouette is flattering and close-fitting, and I love the smooth but texturized upper. The stylistic contrast of the thick laces is a really nice touch, and the semi-muted color means they go with basically anything.
The sole feels familiar (it’s the same structured, wool-lined insole found in my Loungers) and supportive, but the upper is even more breathable than my other pairs.
While I wouldn’t buy Allbirds if they weren’t consistently making the most comfortable shoes I own, I also love that they’re using sustainable materials (and encouraging innovation). They feel ridiculously good on, and any conscious consumer can feel great about buying them.
March 2021 update: Three years after testing them, these are still both my go-to travel shoes and my favorite pair of Allbirds. They’re comfortable, noticeably cooling, and perfect for all-day wear. The navy has held up well over time and shows negligible signs of wear after semi-frequent use.
Connie Chen, Insider Reviews senior reporter:
March 2018 review: I wear my Wool Runners regularly and am always more than happy to talk about how wonderful and comfortable they are to anyone who’s curious, so I was excited to learn about this newer style from one of my favorite brands. Itching for the feel of summer, I opted for the Tree Skippers, which are a modern twist on the classic boat shoe.
Again, Allbirds’ surprising materials have proven to be successful. I never would have guessed that the textile was made from eucalyptus pulp, but it provides an interesting, eye-catching texture that’s more unique than that of a traditional boat shoe. Eucalyptus is known for its cooling properties, so I appreciate that the Skippers offer the ideal casual summer look while also keeping my feet cool in warm weather. The Stone’s neutral, sandy color (color no longer available) reminded me of the beach and can really match with any color you wear on top.
Like Mara said, slipping into the shoe felt soft and familiar since it has the same wool-lined insole and heel cup of Allbirds’ other offerings. I’m also almost certain that these Skippers are more comfortable than the Runners, which is an impressive feat.
March 2021 update: My universal test for whether a pair of shoes is truly supportive and comfortable is how they feel when I wear them to a music festival. These all-day events are the ultimate battleground and involve a lot of walking, standing, and dancing – my Tree Skippers passed the test again and again. I like that they look even more casual than regular sneakers, which is why you’ll often find me wearing the Skippers on the weekend, regardless of the season.
I have discovered over the years, however, that the Skippers are more finicky to care for, perhaps because there’s less material and they have a thinner sole than the Runners. I think the mesh knit material is not as resilient as wool and is prone to slight shrinking and warping, so I would recommend that you either get a darker color or be extra careful while drying them post-wash.
David Slotnick, senior transportation reporter:
March 2018 review: “I tested out the Tree Skipper in Kauri Stone (color no longer available), and think I’ve found the perfect summer shoe. They feel like a combination of a boat shoe and a sneaker – I’ve never found the former very comfortable, but sneakers can be warm or restrictive during summer. The Tree Skipper is lightweight and breathable, and, to my delight, feels like a nice, properly-supportive shoe that would be equally fitting for walking around a city during vacation, wearing on the way to the beach, or on a boat. I can tie the laces to keep them on as I walk – even if I walk quickly or run – although I can kick them off without untying them if I want to.”
Like most of Allbirds’ other styles, from the original Wool Runner to the Tree Skipper, the Tree Breezer retails for $95. It’s available in 21 limited-edition colors. It’s also the first Allbirds shoe to be available in half sizes.
While many women, including us, love the all-day comfort of Allbirds sneakers, these casual styles aren’t always appropriate for the office or dressier environments. One customer lamented, “I get bummed when I have to go to work on Monday and put my Allbirds away again until the weekend.”
Anyone who feels similarly can now finally wear Allbirds all week long with the Tree Breezer flats. They feature an FSC-certified Tree exterior, made from renewable eucalyptus woven into Tencel lyocell fabric, and SweetFoam soles, made from sustainably grown sugar cane.
Together, they form a breathable, flexible, and supportive flat that is just as comfortable as an Allbirds sneaker but wearable everywhere sneakers might not be the best choice – work, dinner, or a night out.
They’re also easy to maintain. You’ll need to hand-wash the insoles, but you can throw the rest of the flat in the washing machine, then let them air dry.
The Insider Reviews team received these flats to put them to the test. Overwhelmingly, we agreed that they’re yet another Allbirds hit, a shoe with little-to-no break-in time, versatile wearability, and easy maintenance typically unheard of for its silhouette.
Here are our initial thoughts when we tested them pre-launch, as well as a two-year follow-up on how they’ve performed since:
Sally Kaplan, deputy editor:
First impressions (May 2019): Last year, I decided that sneakers and ballet flats were going to be my new signature, because who has time for uncomfortable shoes anymore?! These flats are pretty much a dream come true. They’re lightweight, feel pretty similar to the Allbirds Tree Runners I already have and love, and don’t dig in anywhere. I had a tiny bit of rubbing on my heel the first time I wore them, but it subsided after a day. They’re obviously not as supportive as Allbirds’ sneakers, but they’ve got the same soft, washable fuzzy lining – I think they’re just as comfy!
For what it’s worth, I usually wear a 7.5 in sneakers, but I got the 8 in these flats since that’s what I’m used to from Allbirds sneakers and they fit perfectly.
21-month update (March 2021): I’ve been wearing my Tree Breezers probably once a week or so over the course of the past 21 months, and they still look good as new. I wipe the soles down when they get dirty, but haven’t needed to wash the shoes themselves often. There’s a small amount of pilling inside the shoe that I’ve noticed, but it doesn’t affect their comfort. I still love them just as much as I did on day one.
Mara Leighton, senior reporter:
First impressions (May 2019): Flats are hit or miss in terms of comfort for me and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this pair didn’t require any painful break-in time. From the box, I wore them on my long, 20-minute walk to and from the subway and all day at work. Zero blisters, zero discomfort, and more padding than I dared to hope for. For reference, I got them in my typical size 9.
It’s also pretty great that they’re machine-washable. Flats, by nature of being sockless hot-weather shoes, don’t stay fresh for long. I pretty much live in the leather Day Gloves from Everlane in the summer and I wish cleaning them could be close to as easy.
21-month update (March 2021): More than any other pair of Allbirds I’ve owned, the Tree Breezers have aged most gracefully. The wool inside has worn down to the shape of my foot with wear and the breathable material means they’ve transitioned from spring to summer to fall seamlessly. Like Sally, I haven’t needed to wash them often, but I’ve noticed some pilling inside the shoe itself. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. They’re among my most comfortable and most frequently worn pairs.
Connie Chen, senior reporter:
First impressions (May 2019): Allbirds, specifically the Wool Runners and Tree Skippers, are my default shoe to put on when I know I’m going to be on my feet all day and can get away with a more casual style. If I need to look a little more put together but don’t want to end the day limping home, Everlane Day Gloves or Rothy’s Pointed Flats it is. I’m happy to now have another option for a genuinely comfortable flat, and from a brand with a proven track record.
My favorite shoes are those that I don’t have to think twice about or mentally prepare myself to wear. The Tree Breezers saunter confidently into that category, no contest. They’re soft and mold to your feet upon first wear, but don’t have that thin, unsupportive feeling of some other flats. I wore them for more than 12 hours one day, first to work and then to a concert, and they had no problem keeping up with the prolonged walking and standing.
I think it’s worth getting one of the brighter limited-edition colors (I got them in the springy lilac Starfish). Because of their comfort, you’ll feel motivated to wear the eye-catching flats more often.
21-month update (March 2021): When I wore these flats during the summer, I realized they ran a bit warm for my taste and the wool insoles felt like they’d be more suitable for colder seasons. Now that the weather is cool, I’m wearing them more often. They’re perfect for transitional periods because they’re light on my feet while keeping them cozy.
Ellen Hoffman, executive editor:
First impressions (May 2019): Allbirds makes some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn right out of their box, so I was excited to try the company’s new ballet flats. The first word I uttered to my teammates after stepping into my navy Tree Breezers was, “Wow.” Like Mara, I really want to like flats, but they often miss the mark for me when it comes to comfort.
We’ve affectionately dubbed the Tree Breezers “machine-washable pillows for your feet” in our team’s Slack channel because they’re just that comfortable. I wore mine home from work the same day they arrived – a risky move since my commute home involves lots of walking and staircases – and my feet came away not only blister free but also feeling ultra cushioned and supported. They’re a perfect addition to an already impressive lineup from Allbirds for $95 a pair.
21-month update (March 2021): I love these flats! They’re not the most stylish flats I own, but I end up wearing them more than those trendier pairs because they’re so comfortable. Unlike the Wool Runners or Wool Loungers that can lose some of their shape with time, the Tree Breezers offer a really solid amount of structure; they look and feel the same 21 months later. I haven’t washed mine often, but I like knowing I can … I don’t have to be as precious with them as I have to be with other shoes.
The bottom line
As is always the case with Allbirds shoes, the new Tree Breezers are reliably comfortable and the most worry-free shoes you can slip on in the morning. The search for a go-to pair of cute, versatile flats is often a game involving too many blisters, worn-out soles, and impractical upkeep. Trust that you won’t have those problems with the Allbirds Tree Breezers.
Peak Design called out Amazon for selling a cheaper and less environmentally friendly version of its “Everyday Sling” bag in a new video released Wednesday.
The Amazon Basics bag “looks suspiciously like the Peak Design everyday sling,” the video’s narrator says, “but you don’t have to pay for all those needless bells and whistles, like years of research and development, recycled Bluesign approved materials, a lifetime warranty, fairly paid factory workers, and total carbon neutrality. Instead you just get a bag, designed by the crack team at the Amazon Basics department.”
The video, titled “A Tale of Two Slings,” goes on to make fun of Amazon workers pretending to make a cheaper version of the Peak Design bag, which sells for about $150. The Amazon Basics bag sells for about $20.
“What are you supposed to do when the largest company in the world comes and blatantly rips off your product?” Peter Dering, Peak Design’s chief executive said in an interview. “Slap them right back.”
Following the video, which has gotten 13,000 views so far, people commented on the Amazon product, urging buyers to “support the original maker. Not a cheap knockoff.”
“F— the big boys,” Dering said. “It’s so nice to slap them around once in a while.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on whether it was selling a knockoff of the everyday sling bag.
It’s not the first time other companies have taken shots at the retail giant over alleged knockoffs.
In 2019, Allbirds cofounder Joey Zwillinger slammed Amazon for selling shoes that looked nearly identical to the company’s wool sneakers for a fraction of the price. In a letter, he asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to use Allbirds’ approach to sustainability instead in order to make a dent in combatting climate change.
Amazon has also come under fire from critics asking the company to increase its sustainable methods, even as Bezos pledged billions to combat climate change. Last year, leaked documents showed the retail giant monitors climate change activists and groups as potential threats to its business.
As history can attest, well-meaning government and nonprofits aren’t enough on their own to fix every societal issue. Even with more time, it’s unlikely they’ll reveal themselves to be the silver bullets that single-handedly eradicate poverty, inequality, and infuse the workplace with jobs that make workers feel dignified and purposeful.
For that caliber of change, however, there are companies willing to bet on a different conceptualization of “good business.” Perhaps most impressive of this group are B Corps – businesses that volunteer to be graded by the nonprofit B Lab each year to ensure they’re meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Companies that are awarded B Corp status have committed to using their business to work toward a more inclusive and sustainable economy. The businesses strive to reduce inequality, lower poverty levels, and create a healthier environment, stronger communities, and purposeful jobs.
They leverage their resources to pay into a better world, creating a definition of success that includes commonwealth and positive impact as necessary aspects of sustainable consumerism. It’s not charity, it’s better business, and the point is to move the needle on “better practices” further from extra credit and closer to universal compliance.
We rounded up 15 companies we love to shop from that also happen to be certified B Corps, helping drive a global movement that uses business as a force for good.
Prose is a trailblazer for custom haircare and is one of the most personalized beauty brands on the market.
Launched in 2017 and added to the B Corp list in 2019, Prose is focused on powering complete customized hair care products that cater to the specific needs and goals of each individual’s hair and scalp.
As reported by Insider Reviews senior reporter Connie Chen, who tested the line, Prose founders used their experiences in marketing, digital strategy, and R&D roles at consumer product companies like Procter & Gamble and L’Oréal to help define Prose’s data-driven and ingredient-centric business model.
Adopting this technology-driven approach with an apothecary-style concept, Prose products find success in their made-to-order products that offer the highest quality of clean, sustainably sourced ingredients.
Allbirds are often referred to as the “world’s most comfortable shoes” and we’d be inclined to agree. We also love that each collection seems to get even better at optimizing natural materials — without raising prices or diminishing quality.
Allbirds’ classic sneakers and loungers are made from moisture-wicking, temperature-regulating, odor-resistant merino wool that is ZQ-certified (meaning it meets stringent standards for sustainable farming and animal welfare) and uses 60% less energy than synthetics. Their second collection was comprised of sneakers and skippers made from cooling, eco-friendly eucalyptus pulp. Both collections are ultra-comfortable, low-maintenance, made from sustainable materials, and cost $95 for a pair.
You can read more on how Patagonia walks the walk here, but a few of our favorite examples include being the first California company to sign up for B certification in 2012, imposing an earth tax on itself, and giving 100% (yes, 100%) of their profits from Black Friday in the past directly to grassroots nonprofits working to protect air, water, and soil quality for future generations. Since 1985, the company has donated over $89 million to environmental work.
It also bucks corporate trends by not being afraid to get political. It’s led boycotts (Outdoor Retailer trade show, 2017) and sued the United States government and President Donald Trump after the administration proposed reducing two national monuments by up to 85%.
Recently, the company revised its mission statement from “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” to the simpler, more urgent “we’re in business to save our home planet.”
Patagonia was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019, the list that ranks the top 10% of all B Corps.
Cotopaxi is an outdoors brand with social purpose built into its DNA. Its gear is superior (I count their 35L and 42L travel pack as among my all-time best finds). But, somehow, it’s almost more exciting to talk about the work the company is doing outside of its retail line.
From its inception, Cotopaxi has been founded upon the idea that the interests of profit and people could not only coexist, but should and already do enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship.
The B Corp values can be found at all levels of operation. Employees spend 10% of their work time in their local communities, adventuring outdoors, or doing service. The company donates 2% of its yearly revenue to ending poverty by funding local organizations working on sustainable solutions. Cotopaxi also puts out a Repurposed Collection of limited-edition gear made out of scraps.
The company has also created a skills-based volunteering initiative that leverages the time and talent of employees to respond to community needs, such as a card-writing program that provides a paid ‘first job’ for refugees in Salt Lake City. The program provides youth with professional development, work experience, a competitive wage, and the opportunity to practice their English language skills. This is one company whose “Do Good” products actually feel authentic.
Cotopaxi was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019.
Leesa is best-known for being one of the forerunners in the increasingly crowded direct-to-consumer mattress space. Its Leesa Mattress has 20,000+ five-star reviews, and two of the company’s mattresses (Leesa and Hybrid) have been named best-in-category by both Business Insider and The Wirecutter. We’re still working on a review of its latest mattress, the luxury Legend mattress, but testing is going well so far.
The company also has a strong social impact: giving one mattress for every ten sold and devoting resources to national and local organizations. Despite the startup’s marked accomplishments in a crowded space, Leesa’s Head of Social Impact, Jen-Ai Notman, told Business Insider the social mission would be likely to still rank as the overwhelming incentive for working at the company.
Overall, Leesa has donated more than 39,000 mattresses to those in need and makes a point to provide the opportunity for employees to feel invested in their own backyards with local volunteer opportunities.
Leesa was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019.
Frank And Oak is a Canadian apparel company dedicated to making modern, high-quality essentials with sustainable materials and production methods.
The company has winter boots made from coffee waste, recycled rubber, and plant-dyed leather, as well as circular denim made from post-consumer waste in a way that uses 79% less energy, 50% fewer chemicals, and 95% less water than the standard.
About 50% of the retailer’s products are made with minimal-impact processes and materials. Its shipping boxes are 100% recycled and recyclable, and its bags are biodegradable. What’s more, its Canadian stores were built with recycled materials.
It also keeps a lean supply of products on hand to avoid surplus, which makes nearly every collection limited-edition.
Bombas is another company that was founded with the primary directive of giving back to the community, with its actual product idea coming second. But its product, Bombas socks, is still the best pair of socks we’ve ever tried — regardless of order.
Founders David Heath and Randy Goldberg told Business Insider the now cult-favorite company began as a way to address the fact that homeless shelters have a great shortage of sock donations. And after noticing that consumers didn’t have a great option between high-end niche technical socks and a 6-pack at Target, Heath and Goldberg spent two years obsessively re-inventing the wheel to come up with their pair of Bombas socks: adding blister tabs, a reinforced footbed, targeted areas of tension, “stay-up technology,” and contoured seaming like a Y-stitched heel to minimize bunching, sliding, and sticking.
And the socks and clothes Bombas does donate have been designed in conjunction with their giving partners to cater specifically to the needs of its recipients, who may not have access to the luxury of putting on clean clothes every day. For instance, the socks come in darker colors to avoid visible wear and tear, added anti-microbial treatment to prevent odor or bacteria if they can’t be washed as frequently, and reinforced seams for durability.
Beautycounter, a skincare and makeup brand, has become synonymous with the clean beauty movement. Since its founding in 2013, the company has had what it calls The Never List — a laundry list of 1,800 questionable or harmful chemicals that are never used in its products, including the 1,400 banned or restricted by the EU. (The US bans just 30.)
It’s also involved in advocacy for better, healthier legal regulation in the US and Canada.
Tentree is an outdoor company that essentially thinks of itself as a forestry program that ended up selling clothes. For every product you buy, the company plants 10 trees through thoughtful programs that not only reforest the earth but also help rebuild communities around sustainable local economies.
Since its inception, Tentree has planted over 53 million new trees on earth. By 2030, the company’s goal is 1 billion.
The brand’s clothes mostly consist of comfy, unassuming sweatshirts, shirts, leggings, and other basic apparel sold at a reasonable price. They’ve also fostered a lively online community, and lay claim to the tenth most-liked Instagram post of all time.
United by Blue, an outdoor apparel and accessories brand, was founded first and foremost to preserve and protect the places in which explorers go to play. That means its top-notch gear comes hand-in-hand with conservation work. The company utilizes inventive, sustainable materials and removes one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways for every product sold, with over 3 million pounds of trash removed thus far. You can even join them in a cleanup.
Ethique is helping tackle plastic waste by developing solid bars made for beauty, body, and hair care needs.
Founded by a female biologist, the company formulates 30+ solid “beauty bars” for everything from shampoos to conditioners, moisturizers, self-tanners, and body washes, and they work well.
Every bar is vegan, sustainably sourced, naturally-derived, and comes in biodegradable packaging. They also last 2-5 times longer than bottled options since they’re so concentrated (since about 95% of bottled conditioner is water), meaning you save money and contribute a smaller carbon footprint since you’re ordering less frequently. To date, the company has prevented more than 9 million plastic bottles from being made and disposed of.
Ethique (French for “ethical”) is certified climate-neutral, cruelty-free, and donates 20% of profit (whichever is highest) to charity.
In 2015, the company was recognized as New Zealand’s most sustainable business with ‘the Best in B’ award. In its early stages, the company also attracted the highest number of female investors in PledgeMe history. (PledgeMe is New Zealand’s crowdfunding platform.)
San Francisco-based Athleta makes relatively affordable but premium performance clothing designed by women athletes, and it focuses most of its philanthropy on empowering girls and women.
Through the Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. program and Fair Trade U.S.A., the label supports programs impacting the lives of the majority-female workers that create its apparel and has run empowerment-focused campaigns such as “Power of She” in the past. The company also offers thousands of free fitness and wellness events each year, supporting an estimated 10,000 hours of employee volunteering in the community in 2017.
UncommonGoods is a marketplace of both creative craft-esque inventions like chocolate-coated waffle shots that make great gifts. The site feels like a clean, navigable Etsy with fewer products and a more distinct thesis: utilitarian, but “unique.”
UncommonGoods works with its artists to use sustainable or recycled materials when possible, chooses environmentally friendlier packing materials, and prints its catalog on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified and recycled paper. They also founded “Better to Give,” which allows customers to choose a non-profit partner for the company to donate $1 to with every order.
For UncommonGoods, the “business for good” model is working, with the company growing steadily from 5 employees to over 200 year-round. As part of their approach to business, their lowest-paid hourly seasonal worker makes double the federal minimum wage. They’ve also advocated for higher minimum wage and paid family leave in New York state and others.
The company recently partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and created the Uncommon Scholars program, which creates internship and scholarship opportunities for students enrolled at historically Black colleges and universities.
Uncommon Goods was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019.
NYC-based MPOWERD makes affordable, innovative products that help make clean energy accessible. Its best-known product is the Luci, an inflatable solar light. Particularly well-loved for its versatile applications for campers and hikers, MPOWERD is an increasingly recognizable name in the outdoors genre.
MPOWERD uses its lucrative sales in the developed world markets to power a tangible impact in the developing world— namely, the three billion people who live without access to electricity.
Its big sales drive down costs, and those savings are passed on to MPOWERD’s clients in developing economies: “This allows anyone, no matter their circumstances, to own (or sell) our lights at prices they can actually afford.”
Through this process and a myriad of others, the company delivers affordable, life-changing solar lights to off-the-grid communities around the world. It has over 700 strategic non-profit partnerships worldwide, emergency relief sales, and a customer-driven Give Luci program that encourages shoppers to purchase units for their global nonprofit partners.
Eileen Fisher has been a B-Corp since 2015 and has incorporated conscious practices into most of its supply chain — including “green initiatives” at its headquarters, stores, and distribution centers, along with volunteer work. The company has been involved in some meaningful policy engagement in the past, and it has designed a grant program that supports women involved in environmental justice.
Eileen Fisher was also named to the B Lab list of Best For The World in 2019.