Activewear’s love affair with synthetics has some companies going back to the basics with natural fibers.
With that, Allbirds is launching its first performance apparel line, the “Natural Run” collection on Tuesday which bears a majority natural fibers and the company’s signature carbon footprint numbers (which detail cradle-to-grave impact of products).
The collection includes a range of leggings, bike shorts, running shorts, running tanks and T-shirts.
Pieces like the bike shorts and “natural run form tank” harness the moisture-wicking and thermoregulating properties of merino wool blended with eucalyptus tree fiber. The collection ranges in price from $48 for the natural run tank to $98 for the natural leggings. Sizes range from XS to XXXL.
Carbon footprints for the pieces, measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, range from 4.7 kg for the “natural run tank” (akin to a small accessory’s footprint) to 14.5 kg for the leggings (a little more than the carbon footprint of the average running shoe, per Allbirds’ count). Allbirds offsets the remaining impact to zero in what Hana Kajimura, sustainability head at the company, says is all done in the name of “increasing accountability” toward net-zero aims.
“We’ve done everything possible to make sure this is not only a product that performs but is better for the planet,” Kajimura said, noting the collection went through two years of development and 70 iterations.
The garments are Bluesign-approved, undergoing the highest degree of consumer safety protection, low-impact manufacturing requirements and Oeko-Tex 100 certification. Touting the use of natural fibers, the leggings, bike shorts and “natural run form tank” are, for example, made with 43 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified eucalyptus tree fiber, 30 percent recycled nylon, 18 percent ZQ-certified (an ethical wool certification) merino wool and 9 percent elastane. The “natural run shorts” boast the highest blend of moisture-wicking wool, at 51 percent with 32 percent recycled nylon, 11 percent nylon and 6 percent elastane.
Kajimura said it is an “affirmation” for what the company has been up to with its Flight Plan, which includes a goal to have all products made with 75 percent natural or recycled materials — where synthetics must be used — by 2025. The company last reported its progress on this goal in July, and Kajimura reassured that the company is “getting even more detailed.”
Drawing reference to the recent U.N. climate report, Kajimura said, “The clearest takeaway from this report is the era of fossil fuels is over. That’s exactly what we’re saying with this collection.”