The next stop on Allbirds’ path to global dominance? China.
The sustainable sneaker brand yesterday announced plans to open its first shop in China this spring at Shanghai’s Taikoo Hui shopping mall.
In addition to the brick-and-mortar shop, Allbirds is teaming up with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to sell wares on its Tmall platform. The San Francisco-based company will also sell goods in China on its own brand website.
“Bringing Allbirds to China has been a goal of ours since we launched the brand back in 2016,” said co-CEO Tim Brown in a release. “We’re focused on bringing more comfortable, more sustainable footwear to people around the world, and entering China is a huge step in that direction.”
Beginning online-only, the startup experimented with pop-up shops before opening its first permanent branded stores in 2018. Today it operates three brick-and-mortar locations, in San Francisco, New York and London.
Central to Allbirds’ success has been the brand’s direct-to-consumer model. The 2018 FN Achivement Award Brand of the Year winner teamed up with Nordstrom on several releases in 2018 but has no plans to further venture into wholesale.
But Allbirds does see brick-and-mortar expansion as a goal going forward — and in late 2018, Brown and co-CEO Joey Zwillinger discussed plans to open eight more shops, including doors in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
As for China, Zwillinger said motivating factors behind expanding there included Chinese consumers’ interest in Allbirds’ wares and the nation’s significant presence in the retail space.
“We’ve already seen incredible enthusiasm from Chinese consumers, especially around our dedication to creating premium natural materials. The market has been a leader in the evolving retail landscape, which makes it a great fit for our brand ’s innovative ethos,” Zwillinger stated.
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