Allbirds opens 1st Standalone Brick-and-Mortar Store in Canada [Photos]

Date:

Share post:

San Francisco-based footwear brand Allbirds has opened in a retail space on one of the world’s trendiest areas — Toronto’s ‘West Queen West’, as the brand expands its Canadian presence after opening a Canadian online store in March of this year as well as two pop-ups at Nordstrom. The Queen Street pop-up is being used as a test to determine if the company’s next move will be permanent stores in Canada. 

Allbirds was founded by Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger in 2014 — Brown is a retired professional soccer player from New Zealand with a degree from the London School of Economics, and Zwillinger is a biotech engineer and renewable materials expert. A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in 2014 kicked-off the brand with the campaign reaching over $100,000 in sales in just four days. Mr. Zwillinger’s background helped design the construction of the rapidly growing brand while introducing additional sustainable materials such as a vegetable oil-based polyurethane insole.

In 2016, the business partners renamed the footwear brand as ‘Allbirds’ and introduced it to the world. Mr. Zwillinger explained that the Allibirds name is a historical reference to New Zealand having been so remote at one time that its only inhabitants were ‘all birds’. The company has since seen millions of dollars in venture capital for its expansion, with investors showing confidence in a brand that Time Magazine has named “the world’s most comfortable shoe”

PHOTO: CRAIG PATTERSON

“We always try to find new uses for materials that naturally exist right in front of us, rather than relying on cheap synthetics like traditional footwear brands. With a focus on developing on what we call the ‘right amount of nothing’, we are taking the core function of shoes and distilling it to its minimum which results in shoes that look great and feel amazing throughout the day,” said Mr. Zwillinger. 

Allbirds offers three styles of shoes and two materials for men and women, including the Runner, Lounger and the newly launched Skipper for $135, and ‘Smallbirds’ for children, priced at $80 per pair. Styles are minimalist and unisex. 

The Wool collection including the Wool Runner and Wool Lounger, which uses ZQ-certified merino wool that is crafted in one of the world’s finest textile mills outside of Milan, Italy. The engineered one-piece outsole offers supreme cushioning and the brushed wool-lined insole stays soft to the touch. Mr. Zwillinger said that Allbirds, while being a shoe company, is also a technological innovator. Fine merino wool typically isn’t strong enough for footwear but Allbirds’ innovation has developed a product that is super-strong and breathable, not to mention extremely soft and comfortable. 

CASH DESK WITH SHOE LACES DISPLAYED. PHOTO: ALLBIRDS
WALKING ‘DEMONSTRATION AREA’ — INCLUDED IS CONCRETE, A WOODEN BOARDWALK, AND STONES. PHOTO: ALLBIRDS

Allbirds recently introduced a new suite of products named ‘Tree’ made from its most sustainable material to-date. Crafted from a textile that Allbirds engineered using Eucalyptus pulp, the Tree collection creates a cooling effect by wicking away moisture and, in concert with a silky-smooth mesh construction, delivers remarkable breathability and supreme comfort. The Tree collection features ethically sourced Eucalyptus fibres, which use only 5% of the water and one-third of the land compared to traditional footwear materials.

The Toronto pop-up, located at 700 Queen Street West, features a crisp white interior and plenty of seats to try on Allbirds’ shoes — Mr. Zwillinger noted that other pop-ups have been so busy that an issue is sometimes lack of space to try shoes on. Display areas showcase a variety of styles for adults as well as smaller versions for children, and a back area houses an innovative ‘demonstration area’ where visitors may try out shoes on diverse terrain that includes concrete sidewalks, a wooden boardwalk, and stones laid along the pathway. 

The Toronto pop-up will be open until August and it’s located in an area that Vogue Magazine declared in 2014 to be ‘the second-coolest’ in the world. The ‘West Queen West’ area, as it’s called, features a mix of local, national and international brands, and is known to be a launch point for trendy retailers that want to open their first Canadian store in a place that isn’t Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The lease deal for Allbirds at 700 Queen Street West was handled by CBRE Toronto’s Arlin Markowitz and Jackson Turner. The pop-up was conceptualized and executed by Community Agency alongside the Allbirds team. 

WALL SHOWCASING SHOES MADE FROM ‘WOOL’ AND ‘TREE’, WITH AMPLE SEATING. PHOTO: ALLBIRDS

Allbirds launched its Canadian expansion in the spring of 2017 with an e-commerce site dedicated to the Canadian market, as well as pop-ups at Nordstrom’s Canadian flagships at CF Pacific Centre in Vancouver, and at CF Toronto Eaton Centre in Toronto

The Queen Street pop-up will further allow Allbirds to test the waters in Canada, according to Mr. Zwillinger — Allbirds doesn’t wholesale in multi-brand retailers, instead opting for a direct-to-consumer retail model. Permanent stores could eventually open in markets such as Toronto and Vancouver, he noted. Similar pop-ups are currently activated in New York City and San Francisco, and those and other US markets could eventually see permanent Allbirds retail spaces. 

*Article includes files from Helen Siwak, who wrote about Allbirds’ initial entry into Canada for Retail Insider earlier this spring. 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From Retail Insider

The Body Shop Canada Goes into Restructuring and will Close 33 Stores [Article Includes Expert Analysis]

The UK-based retailer filed overseas last month, and its Canadian operations will now be downsized as part of a restructuring that will see many stores remain open for now.

One Bloor East in Toronto Secures Nike Flagship and Mango as Key Retail Tenants [Exclusive]

First Capital REIT has leased-out the entire retail podium at the iconic Yonge and Bloor corner, including space to another new tenant in the main-floor space formerly occupied by Nordstrom Rack.

Anatomy of a Leader: Ken Keelor, CEO of Calgary Co-op

After moving to Canada from India in 1995, Keelor began working at Save-on-Foods and then other major retailers as his career progressed upwards.

Unprecedented Opportunity for Canadian Retailers to Sell to Consumers in China Online

China is the world’s largest online consumer market, and it is projected to grow for years to come.

Modern Golf Opening Innovative Golf Social Experience in Downtown Toronto’s First Canadian Place [Interview]

The 8,500-square-foot Financial District space will feature multiple bays, bars, lounge areas, and partnerships with Food Dudes for food and beverage offerings, marking a significant shift in the company's growth strategy.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Gears Up for Nationwide Expansion in Canada with Innovative Store Formats [Interview]

New locations in new markets are planned, including a mix of Doughnut Café concepts and manufacturing locations for the public called 'Theatre Hubs'.

Robson Street in Vancouver in Flux as New Retailers Prepare to Open Stores [Feature]

The street is seeing new retailers prepare to open, including a prominent corner that is about to see some very big changes and a potential luxury mall nearby cancelled.

Wendy’s Bold Dynamic Pricing Move Has its Positives and Negatives [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois discusses the unusual move by Wendy's in the US to implement dynamic pricing, and how it could benefit the business while potentially turning off consumers.

Growing Crisis in Retail Inventory in Canada as Factory Direct Liquidates Stores [Interview]

The founder of A.D. Hennick & Associates says he's seeing overwhelming demand to liquidate inventory, indicating a concerning trend in the industry as more retailers look to insolvency.

Here’s What We Can Learn from Canada’s Response to Inflation in the 1980s and 1990s [Op-Ed]

Younger, poorer households have disproportionately suffered because their price index is skewed more toward food and shelter, say the authors.

Food Preferences in Canada Changing as Millennial and Gen Z Demographics Shift [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois discusses Canada's aging population and how younger consumers are shifting the grocery food landscape.

Henry Singer Unveils Downtown Edmonton Flagship Store at the ICE District, Featuring a Bar, Barber and Shoe Shine [Photos/Interview]

Jordan Singer discusses how the upscale menswear retailer recently relocated its Edmonton flagship store from Manulife Place into a 10,000 square foot space at the base of Western Canada's tallest building.

Canadian Retail Sales Dip: Year-End Drop in Discretionary Spending [J.C. Williams Group Analysis]

2023 Canadian retail sales ended in a lacklustre way, with controlled consumer spending amid a tumultuous year.

Landlord QuadReal Launches Pickleball Courts in Commercial Properties to Create Consumer Experience [Interview/Photos]

The initiative helps revitalize and re-imagine spaces using sustainable development practices, while incorporating the latest technology to enhance the visitor experience, blending physical and digital elements.

Canadian Consumers Willing to Switch Grocery Stores while Seeking Bargains: Study [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that a new survey offers a rigorous look into the preferences and behaviours shaping the future of grocery shopping in Canada.

Iconic Flo’s Diner in Toronto’s Yorkville Forced to Close After 33 Years Amid Landlord Dispute 

Retail Insider interviewed Flo’s co-owner who discusses the “heart wrenching” situation where he is being forced to close his business that began on Bellair Street in 1991.

Anatomy of a Leader: Teresa Spinelli, Owner of Alberta-Based Italian Centre Shop Ltd.

Spinelli discusses her leadership of the popular retailer which has expanded over the years, describing how she struggled to run the company at first and grew to love it.

Upscale Canadian Fashion Brand SMYTHE Expands with New Standalone Calgary Store [Interview/Photos]

It's the second store location for the Toronto-based brand, which is seeing success with its exclusive womenswear collections.

Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens Hits Sales Milestone with Exciting Retail Growth and Future Plans [Interview]

The shopping centre is adding new retailers as sales per square foot hit an all-time high, with plans to re-tenant Nordstorm as foot traffic grows following Eataly's opening in the mall a few months ago.

ECS Coffee Opens Canada’s Largest Coffee and Espresso Equipment Gear Showroom and Retail Space in Toronto [Interview]

The new Etobicoke location is unique to Canada if not North America, according to its founder, with coffee roasting, equipment showroom, over 500 varieties of coffee, Youtube studio and various in-store experiences. He has plans to expand the concept nationally.

RECENT RETAIL INSIDER VIDEOS

Advertisment

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Subscribe

* indicates required

RECENT articles

The Body Shop Canada Goes into Restructuring and will Close 33 Stores [Article Includes Expert Analysis]

The UK-based retailer filed overseas last month, and its Canadian operations will now be downsized as part of a restructuring that will see many stores remain open for now.

One Bloor East in Toronto Secures Nike Flagship and Mango as Key Retail Tenants [Exclusive]

First Capital REIT has leased-out the entire retail podium at the iconic Yonge and Bloor corner, including space to another new tenant in the main-floor space formerly occupied by Nordstrom Rack.

Anatomy of a Leader: Ken Keelor, CEO of Calgary Co-op

After moving to Canada from India in 1995, Keelor began working at Save-on-Foods and then other major retailers as his career progressed upwards.

Unprecedented Opportunity for Canadian Retailers to Sell to Consumers in China Online

China is the world’s largest online consumer market, and it is projected to grow for years to come.

Modern Golf Opening Innovative Golf Social Experience in Downtown Toronto’s First Canadian Place [Interview]

The 8,500-square-foot Financial District space will feature multiple bays, bars, lounge areas, and partnerships with Food Dudes for food and beverage offerings, marking a significant shift in the company's growth strategy.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Gears Up for Nationwide Expansion in Canada with Innovative Store Formats [Interview]

New locations in new markets are planned, including a mix of Doughnut Café concepts and manufacturing locations for the public called 'Theatre Hubs'.

Robson Street in Vancouver in Flux as New Retailers Prepare to Open Stores [Feature]

The street is seeing new retailers prepare to open, including a prominent corner that is about to see some very big changes and a potential luxury mall nearby cancelled.

Wendy’s Bold Dynamic Pricing Move Has its Positives and Negatives [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois discusses the unusual move by Wendy's in the US to implement dynamic pricing, and how it could benefit the business while potentially turning off consumers.

Growing Crisis in Retail Inventory in Canada as Factory Direct Liquidates Stores [Interview]

The founder of A.D. Hennick & Associates says he's seeing overwhelming demand to liquidate inventory, indicating a concerning trend in the industry as more retailers look to insolvency.

Here’s What We Can Learn from Canada’s Response to Inflation in the 1980s and 1990s [Op-Ed]

Younger, poorer households have disproportionately suffered because their price index is skewed more toward food and shelter, say the authors.

Food Preferences in Canada Changing as Millennial and Gen Z Demographics Shift [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois discusses Canada's aging population and how younger consumers are shifting the grocery food landscape.

Henry Singer Unveils Downtown Edmonton Flagship Store at the ICE District, Featuring a Bar, Barber and Shoe Shine [Photos/Interview]

Jordan Singer discusses how the upscale menswear retailer recently relocated its Edmonton flagship store from Manulife Place into a 10,000 square foot space at the base of Western Canada's tallest building.

Canadian Retail Sales Dip: Year-End Drop in Discretionary Spending [J.C. Williams Group Analysis]

2023 Canadian retail sales ended in a lacklustre way, with controlled consumer spending amid a tumultuous year.

Landlord QuadReal Launches Pickleball Courts in Commercial Properties to Create Consumer Experience [Interview/Photos]

The initiative helps revitalize and re-imagine spaces using sustainable development practices, while incorporating the latest technology to enhance the visitor experience, blending physical and digital elements.

Canadian Consumers Willing to Switch Grocery Stores while Seeking Bargains: Study [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that a new survey offers a rigorous look into the preferences and behaviours shaping the future of grocery shopping in Canada.

Iconic Flo’s Diner in Toronto’s Yorkville Forced to Close After 33 Years Amid Landlord Dispute 

Retail Insider interviewed Flo’s co-owner who discusses the “heart wrenching” situation where he is being forced to close his business that began on Bellair Street in 1991.

Anatomy of a Leader: Teresa Spinelli, Owner of Alberta-Based Italian Centre Shop Ltd.

Spinelli discusses her leadership of the popular retailer which has expanded over the years, describing how she struggled to run the company at first and grew to love it.

Upscale Canadian Fashion Brand SMYTHE Expands with New Standalone Calgary Store [Interview/Photos]

It's the second store location for the Toronto-based brand, which is seeing success with its exclusive womenswear collections.

Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens Hits Sales Milestone with Exciting Retail Growth and Future Plans [Interview]

The shopping centre is adding new retailers as sales per square foot hit an all-time high, with plans to re-tenant Nordstorm as foot traffic grows following Eataly's opening in the mall a few months ago.

ECS Coffee Opens Canada’s Largest Coffee and Espresso Equipment Gear Showroom and Retail Space in Toronto [Interview]

The new Etobicoke location is unique to Canada if not North America, according to its founder, with coffee roasting, equipment showroom, over 500 varieties of coffee, Youtube studio and various in-store experiences. He has plans to expand the concept nationally.