The San Francisco-based shoe startup penned an open letter to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, calling out the retail giant’s private-label brand for selling a sneaker that Allbirds said shares similar features to one of its own.
In a post on Medium titled “Dear Mr. Bezos,” Allbirds co-founders Joey Zwillinger and Tim Brown wrote that the $45 Wool Blend shoes from Amazon’s 206 Collective line were “strikingly similar” to its Wool Runners, which are priced at $95. The co-founders further issued a challenge to Amazon to “please steal our approach to sustainability.”
“We are flattered at the similarities that your private-label shoe shares with ours but hoped the commonalities would include these environmentally friendly materials as well,” read the note, which was shared on Zwillinger’s Medium page. “As we’ve done with over 100 other brands who were interested in implementing our renewable materials into their products, including direct competitors, we want to give you the components that would make this shoe not just look like ours, but also match our approach to sustainability.”
In August 2018, Allbirds and Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem released a renewable bio-based EVA resin made from sugarcane instead of petroleum. The sustainable version, which the brand calls SweetFoam, makes up the soles of Allbird sneakers. It is also used on other footwear labels’ products, including Amazon’s wool blend sneakers.
“If you replaced the oil-based products in your supply chain with this natural substitute (not just for one product, but all of them), we could jointly make a major dent in the fight against climate change,” Zwillinger and Brown wrote. “Customers value companies that are mindful of the planet and profits, and we believe the most powerful businesses in the world, such as Amazon, should lead on these issues, and will be rewarded for doing so.”
An Amazon spokesperson said that the company has nothing to share on the matter.
Allbirds joins a growing list of fashion brands, among the most vocal of which is Birkenstock, that have publicly sparred with Amazon over the sale of purported knockoffs on its platform.
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