An Honest Allbirds Review: One Year On

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I purchased a pair of sustainable wool AllBirds in November 2016. I was looking for an ethical sneaker that would be just as suitable for work as it was for trail and neighborhood walking. The minimal profile and simple aesthetic appealed to me.

What Makes AllBirds Sustainable?

AllBirds is committed to using sustainably sourced, all natural materials – including ZQ certified wool – which means their sneakers are nontoxic and animal friendly. Their merino wool uses 60% less energy to produce than synthetics. Shoes are shipped in a patent pending shoebox that uses 40% less packaging than usual (This, to be honest, is one of my favorite aspects of the brand. Wait ’til you get them in the mail – you’ll be impressed).

On the social responsibility front, AllBirds is B-Corp certified and financially supports the nonprofit, Soles 4 Souls.

Who are AllBirds Intended For?

AllBirds are not running shoes. They’re really intended as a fashion sneaker with the benefit of real comfort. The soft wool upper makes these unsuitable for any serious trail walking or hiking, so it’s best to buy these if you plan to wear them on sidewalks and inside buildings. 

Update: Allbirds’ now makes a running shoe

My Review

Let me start off by saying I’m not a sneaker person. Never have been. But I wanted something I could stand and walk in comfortably. I like to take walks in my neighborhood when the weather is nice and occasionally go on local hikes. I also frequently have work days where my feet really need the added support and comfort of sneakers.

For my needs, AllBirds has been an excellent choice. There’s ample arch support in the structured wool and eco-PU insole. I wore these all day at the Women’s March last year – so something like 12 hours of standing – and miraculously my feet didn’t hurt at all the next day. I’ve also worn them on 4-5 local hikes and they’ve held up just fine, though I’m careful to watch where I’m placing my feet. I wear them to work at least once a week when I know I’ll be on my feet a lot. I’ve found that, though these are made of wool, they breathe pretty well and I don’t have issues wearing them on warmer days.

My one complaint is that the soft upper shows wear pretty quickly. You can see in the photo above that the area near my toes has stretched over time. Others have complained that the heel is uncomfortable when worn without socks, but I always wear mine with socks, so that hasn’t been an issue for me.

Overall, I would recommend these!

Grade: A
Size ordered: 8
Usual size: 7.5

Shop AllBirds here

Leah Wise

Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

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