Will Allbirds Be Around in 10 Years? + 2 Months Later Review Follow Up
Just about 2 months ago we first published our reviews of Allbirds’ sneakers and slippers. Now, 2 months later, we check in again with some thoughts about the shoes, and Allbirds the company as a whole.
Will Allbirds Still Be Around In 10 Years?
View #1: Allbirds will not be a successful business in 10 years from now. They are a passing fad. The Crocs of this decade. Like Crocs, they are now super-hot comfort footwear. And like Crocs, I predict that they will have a great run of a couple $100 million in sales before they crater to the ground. Why? Because in the apparel/fashion space a company that is synonymous with a fad will eventually no longer be the fad. Some other fad company will inevitable, and by definition take its place. The only way for a fad to ever become a legitimate, long-term company is if it can expand beyond its core fad, and become a regular company just like all the others in its industry. But that is a very, very difficult task, and when the brand name and a particular fad is synonymous (like Allbirds), it’s extremely difficult for the company to break free of that perception. Enjoy your Allbirds while they are around. It won’t be for (very) long.
View #2: Allbirds is the footwear brand of the future. Yes, there are surely some quality control issues that will have to be fixed and updated (see below), but all disruptors and innovators face these sorts of issues, and they will continue to innovate and upgrade their products. Crocs were a super unique slipper company that never figured out how to upgrade their products to make them stylish and cool. Plus, their brand was always associated with a specific sort of completely unstylish slipper (there was even a FB group called “I don’t care how comfortable Crocs are, you look like a dumbass”). There is certainly no such problem with Allbirds. After all, Allbirds is an idea: make footwear out of creative materials to make them as comfortable as possible. If Allbirds were to discover some new way of making footwear comfortable out of a completely different material than wool, then they’d dump wool in a second and move on to the new material. They will always be innovating and that’s why they will always be a viable business. Plus, Allbirds footwear are very stylish! In 10 years from now, Allbirds will be a household name.
‘Runners’ Sneakers 2 Months Later
Smell: The first thing that I hate about these sneakers is how quickly they became stinky. All sneakers get smelly over time, and with proper care you can keep them in decent-smelling shape. But these Allbirds are next-level smelly. After just 3 wears, they already had a pretty awful smell. And this is not just me or my feet. A couple of people who bought Allbirds after our review reached out and seconded this complaint. Now, yes, one of the great features of Allbirds’ shoes is that they can be easily washed and then they do indeed smell good again. But you literally have to wash these every other week to keep them in good smelling condition. For a company that claims they “wick moisture and sweat” so that your feet don’t smell, I’d expect better. Consider this my first Allbirds complaint.
Condition: These sneakers definitely wear and tear faster than traditional sneakers. They are not super broken down just yet, but they are heading there faster than a regular sneaker. I put them on 2-3 times a week for 8-10 hours at a time, so you could say that I do wear them pretty often. But a regular sneaker would not wear out this quickly. I think I might get another 2-3 months of solid wear before they are headed for the once-a-week section of my closet. Nothing super surprising here, but I was still hoping these would wear better than expected. Oh well.
Comfort: Allbirds is all about comfort and they’ve certainly stayed consistent on this front. I still feel the same lightweight comfort that I felt on day one. These are incredibly comfortable sneakers that I still love wearing despite my above gripes. And although they are in worse condition than when I bought them, they still retain the same fantastic level of comfort.
Value: After knowing all of this, would I recommend spending $95 on a new pair of Allbirds? I’m honestly not sure anymore. On the one hand, these sneakers are all about comfort and you do get that to the maximum. Plus, they are also pretty stylish and cool. So you are getting some serious value on the comfort and style fronts. But, on the other hand, I’m starting to feel like $95 is a lot of money for a fairly crappy quality, short-term (smelly) sneaker. Can I honestly recommend buying a sneaker that has a 6 month life for $95? I don’t know. But I used to think that $95 was a steal for these sneakers. Now I’m not so sure.
‘Loungers’ Slippers 2 Months Later
(Note: The Runners and Loungers reviews are written by two different writers.)
Color: I had a hard time deciding what color to get for my Loungers, but in the end I chose the light grey. I wanted to be able to wear them out as a sneaker if I wanted to without drawing too much attention. I spoke about this a lot in my original review. In the end, I think I went with the wrong color choice for this. If you want to be able to wear them out as a sneaker on occasion, go with a darker color, especially the black. I have seen people wear the Lounger in black as a sneaker and it’s hardly noticeable. They grey, on the other hand, looks a lot less like a typical sneaker, and so is far more noticeable. So, feeling some color regret over here.
Sizing: Another thing I was worried about was the sizing. I ended up going with the size 12 — which is a half size bigger than I usually wear in any shoe — and still felt that my pinky toes made a noticeable indentation on the edge of the shoe. I hoped this would get better as the shoe stretched a bit, and I think it has, just slightly. In the end, the indentation is so noticeable because — you guessed it — the color is so light. Thus, an indentation creates the slightest shadow which makes it stick out a lot more. Call me creepy, but I have been looking at anyone’s Allbirds shoes since I got my pair and noticed this issue, and the all seem to have this issue as the material is just so soft. It’s just hardly noticeable on darker colors.
Quality: I have had zero issues whatsoever with the quality of this shoe. I do not wear them hard, though. I wear them around the apartment, and out for a couple hours here and there, maybe once a week. However, these things looks like new. Other than the soles which have picked up some dirt (which is sure to come off in a wash cycle), these things look like they do the day I got them, and fit just the slightest bit better. In fact, I wore these out in the rain one time not so much to test whether water would ruin them — we know it won’t since they can literally be washed — but to see if the water would seep into the shoe. I have to report that it did not. I even did a tad bit fo splashing in a puddle but my sickles feet remained dry. I don’t know for how long this would have remained true — I try not to spend too much time hanging out in the rain — but for running in and out on a rainy day, I don’t think you should be concerned. Finally, the comfort, overall, still astonishes me every time I put these things on.
Value: For $95 these are pricey slippers. (Perhaps they are the sort of item really better given/received as a gift then purchased for oneself.) I think if you get them in the darker color and will/would wear them sometimes as sneakers, these are well worth the price.
The Bottom Line
In short, the biggest selling point for Allbirds is really their comfort. It’s second to none, truly. Not to overhype it to the point that it can never meet expectations, but they really are that good. That being said, if you’re looking for a truly quality shoe, or the most stylish shoe, or a long lasting, beater sneaker, Allbirds is not your shoe company. We stand by, then, our original assessment that of the two kinds of shoes Allbirds offers, go with the Loungers. They won’t be worn as much or as hard so longevity, smell, and similar concerns won’t be an issue. But you will still get that amazing cloud-like comfort when you do wear them.