Footwear darling Allbirds has come home to nest with its first New Zealand store. The store opened its doors in the Britomart Precinct in Auckland on 15th August 2019 after four years of Allbirds building a devoted following online. Allbirds already has stores in the United States, China and the United Kingdom.
Co-founder and former All Whites skipper Tim Brown said the Auckland store had been a long time coming. “We always imagined we would open a store in New Zealand. It’s one of our founding markets, its where I am from and where our key material, wool, is from.” Brown said the challenge for the company was transferring the online experience to an offline location. The store will allow customers to come in and touch the materials and learn about the supply chain, he said. “The store is part marketing expense, part retail destination, part brand learning opportunity.” The layout of the store was built around a service bar that was inspired by the volcanoes of Auckland.
Despite being touted for its technological innovation with materials and becoming a darling of the Silicon Valley set, Allbirds’ Auckland store was stripped back to focus on the shoes, Brown said. “We’re not leveraging technology in any crazy new way, we are just trying to care deeply about the details.”
Brown said he and co-founder Joey Zwillinger were adding designers and material scientists to the team to allow them to expand the company’s offerings. The launch of the Allbirds sock range on August 14 was the result of 18 months of design testing and development, Brown said. “What we do takes time. We are not rushing anything but we are starting to imagine future possibilities.”
Brown said the Allbirds’ team focused on their “north star” that people did not buy sustainable products, they bought great products. “We release something only when we think its as close to great as we can get it and then we are going to improve that product pretty relentlessly.” The company had made 30 changes to the wool runner since launching in 2014 after successfully raising $3.7 million through global crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.
While Brown hoped the company would eventually be able to open more stores in New Zealand, the Auckland store was it “for now”. Viv Beck, chief executive of Heart of the City said the opening if the Allbirds store contributed to the unique feel of the Britomart Precinct. “Allbirds choosing Auckland’s city centre for its first New Zealand store is a fantastic vote of confidence in our city centre’s growing retail offering, which has already seen a number of global brands open flagship stores here this year. “