To Fit Into Silicon Valley, Wear These Wool Shoes

“We’re about the distillation of solutions, the refinement and crafting of forms in a maniacal way,” said Tim Brown, the Allbirds co-founder from New Zealand.

Silicon Valley likes a uniform. Standing out with a personal style in tech is generally shunned, since it implies time spent on aesthetic pleasures, rather than work. Tech leaders often adhere to strict personal dress codes (like Mark Zuckerberg’s gray T-shirt), and young entrepreneurs study the social media cues of the venture capital class, who tend to select investments in part based on who looks like them.

And so, for now, this insular world has settled on Allbirds.

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The wool used in Allbirds is a very fine merino wool, each strand 17.5 microns wide.

Credit
Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times

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The Allbirds headquarters in San Francisco.

Credit
Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times

At a gathering last month hosted by the venture capital firm August Capital on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, Calif., about 1,000 entrepreneurs and investors mingled on a concrete patio over margaritas and deviled eggs to celebrate summer. Guests wore other shoes — New Balance, Top-Siders, Tevas and a rare dress shoe were spotted — but the furry-looking Allbird was by far the most common.

Serik Kaldykulov, the managing partner for Elefund, which finances early-stage start-ups, wore a pair as he waited to get into the party.

“Everyone’s wearing them. Sometimes it is awkward, especially if we’re wearing the same color — but then it’s an icebreaker,” said Mr. Kaldykulov, who owns four pairs in different colors.

“Anything with laces becomes less efficient,” said John Kim, chief executive of SendBird, a start-up that helps software engineers build chat features within their apps. He sported a pair of light gray Allbirds.

Mr. Kim said he wore Allbirds for “all reasons and purposes” — except to a recent barbecue, for fear that sauce could seep in. Allbirds, which are machine washable, are meant to be worn without socks. (Some have complained about how quickly the shoes wear out, though Allbirds has said in a statement that the latest line is more durable than earlier iterations.)

Yet today’s hot shoe may easily become tomorrow’s Google Glass

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