How many times have Silicon Valley geeks been credited with setting a style trend? Whether it was Steve Jobs and his black mock turtleneck or Mark Zuckerberg and his gray T-shirt, big ideas in tech-worker fashion seem to be rooted in the notion of not overthinking things.
Allbirds, simple wool shoes created by a San Francisco startup, are the latest dressed-down staple to attract attention from high-profile customers, the media and investors. And those investors include Maveron, the venture capital firm founded by Howard Schultz and Dan Levitan.
The Maveron website lists Levitan, who was also an early investor in Seattle-based Zulily, and general partner Rebecca Kaden as the team in charge of the Allbirds account. The company was co-founded by Tim Brown, a former professional soccer player from New Zealand, and Joey Zwillinger, a biotech engineer.
A profile in The New York Times this month said that the shoe, which comes in a lounge style and a running style, is showing up all over Silicon Valley, including on the feet of tech big shots such as Google co-founder Larry Page, former Twitter chief Dick Costolo and venture capitalist Mary Meeker.
The $95 shoes, made from superfine New Zealand merino wool, are designed to be worn without socks. They’re very minimalist — no big logo splashed on the side to announce your brand preference.
But the brand is clearly the preference at various tech gatherings, the Times noted.
“Everyone’s wearing them,” Serik Kaldykulov, a managing partner for the firm Elefund, told the Times. “Sometimes it is awkward, especially if we’re wearing the same color — but then it’s an icebreaker.”
The Times said Allbirds has raised $9.95 million and employs 50 people in their San Francisco headquarters, 350 contractors in a factory in South Korea and 40 at a warehouse in Nashville. A store is opening next month in Manhattan.
Maveron, founded in 1998, focuses on consumer-only business, and has backed such companies as Arivale, Dolly, Groupon, eBay and Drugstore.com.