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Allbirds invests in material innovation firm, reveals ‘Plant Leather’

By Huw Hughes


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Sustainable footwear and apparel brand Allbirds has added a new 100 percent natural plant-based leather alternative to its line-up of open-source eco-materials.

The San Francisco-based company said Thursday it has invested 2 million dollars in material innovation firm Natural Fiber Welding and its Mirum technology to create the new product, aptly named ‘Plant Leather’.

The material, which is made with vegetable oil, natural rubber and other “bio-ingredients”, has 40 times less carbon impact than leather and 17 times less carbon than synthetic leather made from plastic, according to Allbirds.

“For too long, fashion companies have relied on dirty synthetics and unsustainable leather, prioritizing speed and cost over the environment,” said Joey Zwillinger, co-founder and co-CEO of Allbirds, in a statement.

“Natural Fiber Welding is creating scalable, sustainable antidotes to leather, and doing so with the potential for a game-changing 98 percent reduction in carbon emissions. Our partnership with NFW and planned introduction of Plant Leather based on their technology is an exciting step on our journey to eradicate petroleum from the fashion industry.”

Launched in 2016 by former soccer player Tim Brown and industrial engineer Joey Zwillinger, Allbirds has quickly made a name for itself on the sustainable fashion scene for its use of regenerative natural materials including FSC-certified eucalyptus tree fiber and SweetFoam, a proprietary innovation made with sugarcane.

The company, which began its days as an e-tailer selling footwear, has since expanded into apparel and now serves 35 countries with 22 brick-and-mortar stores across the world.

Image: Allbirds

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