By  on September 5, 2017
Allbirds San Francisco store

Allbirds has spun a business out of making and selling wool shoes, and a $17.5 million Series B should help expand the enterprise further.The San Francisco-based firm said it’s closed on a new round of funding led by investment firm Tiger Global Management LLC that brings its total raised to date to $27.5 million.The specifics on the game plan are still a bit fuzzy but the capital infusion is expected to be deployed for research and development, international expansion and store growth.Allbirds totals more than 50 employees. How large the business has grown since its 2015 founding is unclear with chief executive and cofounder Tim Brown declining to provide details on the company’s sales or profit performance.The company’s wool shoes for men and women — of which there are currently two styles in a runner and slip-on each retailing for $95 — are sold direct in the U.S. and New Zealand. Allbirds operates an online store, working with third-party logistics providers in New Zealand and Nashville. It also has a San Francisco outpost, which bowed in May.A second U.S. door is expected to open this month, although Brown declined to say the location.“They love to try the shoes on. They love to experience the brand in person,” the ceo said of what’s been gleaned so far from the physical store. “There is real opportunity for us in direct-to-consumer retail. I think we’ve grown an increasing conviction around how important it is for our customer. We need to be able to serve them in whatever ways they want to access our product.”The aim for the business, at least in the immediate future, is on direct. However, the company’s not necessarily opposed to wholesale, Brown said.“Never say never,” he said. “I think at the moment, our direct-to-consumer model is our competitive advantage in some ways. I think it allows us to innovate with natural materials in a way that the rest of the industry can’t. I think it allows us to move faster. We’re not tied to seasonal sales schedules. And also, more importantly…we’re able to get this incredible feedback.”There’s also the opportunity to be had in expanding the stockkeeping unit count, given the current offering totals two styles.“We started with one material, a proprietary textile normally made into fine suites. We think it’s just the beginning of our natural material pipeline,” Brown said. “We think we’re just getting started and raising money has been to double down on those efforts.”For More Los Angeles Coverage in WWD:Unpublished Denim Emerges as Contender for Market ShareCitizens of Humanity Puts Denim to Work with Performance CollectionPatrick DiLascia Gets Elevated with New Namesake LabelL.A. Specialty Boutique The Dreslyn on Track for Growth

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