Allbirds’ wholesale roster expands once more with REI deal - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Allbirds’ wholesale roster expands once more with REI deal


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Dive Brief:

  • As Allbirds expands its wholesale reach, the direct-to-consumer brand is partnering with REI to sell its footwear. Select Allbirds’ products will be sold in 41 of REI’s stores and on the retailer’s website, according to details emailed to Retail Dive Tuesday.
  • The assortment includes Allbirds’ Tree Flyer running shoe, which debuted this summer, as well as the company’s trail runner and some of its more casual footwear, like its iconic wool runner.
  • Allbirds in May entered wholesale through two deals, with Zalando and Public Lands. The brand has since expanded its retail partners to include Nordstrom, among others.

Dive Insight:

It wasn’t so long ago that Allbirds was a DTC-only brand. The company in February announced its intentions to enter wholesale as it looks for “durable profitability” and now its U.S. partner list includes three major retailers: Public Lands (owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods), Nordstrom and REI.

“The two brands, who have a shared focus on sustainability stewardship for better business, are coming together to provide REI customers with more options for sustainable footwear,” a spokesperson said via email. The company added that the REI partnership supports Allbirds’ “sustainable growth plans to build brand awareness, and reach more customers both online and offline.”

Co-CEO Joey Zwillinger in February said the brand would be methodical about its entry into wholesale and described the strategy as “proactive and deliberate.” The executive stressed that Allbirds would only partner with “premium locations” that were “brand additive” and noted that expanding its wholesale network would allow the company to raise brand awareness.

Allbirds is not the only athletic lifestyle brand REI has brought in to build out its assortment: The company partnered with Athleta a year ago to bring a selection of the brand’s products into 135 stores and also sells DTC brand Vuori in stores.

In addition to growing its wholesale roster, Allbirds is expanding its own store fleet, with a total of 55 brick-and-mortar stores as of the end of September. Stores are performing well so far: Zwillinger in May said the company’s U.S. stores “grew well in excess of 150%” during the first quarter and were the company’s biggest growth driver.

Over the past two years, Allbirds has swiftly moved past its footwear roots, entering the apparel space in 2020 and launching an activewear line in 2021 as it looks for scale. At the same time, the brand has been hit with widening losses and was one of a series of retailers that laid off staff over the summer. In August, Allbirds also backtracked on its apparel strategy, saying it planned to “simplify” its approach in the category. That included focusing on basics and sunsetting its leggings.


Cara Salpini, Khareem Sudlow