Adidas x Allbirds: Saves the Planet, But What About Your Feet?
Price: $120 [Check eBay for Sales]
The Adidas x Allbirds is unrivaled in it’s CO2 footprint, and are astonishingly light.
The Adidas x Allbirds are not particularly comfortable or durable.
|Model||Adidas x Allbirds|
|Materials||Recycled Polyester / Natural Fibers / Bio-EVA|
|Size||13 (12 pictured)|
|Weight||201 g / 7.0 oz|
|Country of Origin||China|
Sneaker collabs have kind of become the norm these days. It seems like almost every weekend there is a new hip hop artist, TV show, or children’s toy that is being featured on a classic silhouette. However, despite just how common it has become, there was one collab that I don’t think too many people saw coming – Adidas and Allbirds.
The appeal of the collaboration is clear. Most of us don’t own a shoe factory, or a design team to tell us what is feasible. The only way we’ll be able to get what we really want is through a collaboration. The company then gets a chance to market a shoe and beat their competitors. But what drove two companies who have their own shoe factories and design teams to instead collaborate with their competitors? In this case, the environment.
Allbirds have long been leaders in the environmental space, an area that Adidas has recently been trying to enter. They publish the CO2 of all the materials used in their shoes. They are a certified B Crop. What they lack is the marketing department powerhouse that Adidas has. By working together, Adidas gets Allbird’s research, and Allbirds gets Adidas’ marketing know-how.
All that sounds great, saving the environment, brands working together in peace and harmony. But what about the shoes? Are they something you should actually want, or is this just a marketing ploy to justify making the Stan Smith out of plastic? Well, let’s find out.
When it comes to the upper of the Adidas x Allbirds there really isn’t much to it – and I mean that very literally. Pretty much the entire upper is made from the thinnest fabric I’ve ever seen on a sneaker. Somewhere between an undershirt and a regular T-shirt. It’s thin.
The only thing that keeps your foot from ripping right through the cloth is a healthy dose of colorful stitching, which provides the entirety of the structure for the upper. Coming in coral and yellow on this colorway (the other option is a less appealing brown and gold), it really adds a splash to the sneaker.
Sitting front and center in the middle of the shoe are both the logos for Adidas and Allbirds. I get that this sneaker was really designed as a marketing effort by both brands, but I can’t help but feel this would look a bit better on the heel. It’s just TOO in your face here.
Speaking of the heel, you’ll find it lined around the top with a bit of foam with a faux-leather coating on it. There are also two small foam pads to help keep your feet in and… that’s about it. The tongue has the same foam, just without the coating. It also has the total carbon footprint for this shoe – just 2.94 Kilograms.
Mid- and Outsole
If you felt the upper was a bit plain in everything but advertisements, you probably won’t be a major fan of this part of the shoe either. The midsole of the Adidas x Allbirds is basically just a wedge of foam, though you do get a mild grey camo print on it.
The most attention-grabbing part is the amount of C02 per pair, printed boldly on the back half.
Flipping the sneaker over, you’ll find 7 thin strips of rubber placed strategically on the bottom of the shoe and a log of exposed foam. The rubber is entirely flat – clearly designed for dry weather – and comes in both black and brown. Adidas managed to sneak a cheeky logo here without giving Allbirds a spot.
The Adidas x Allbirds is a fairly simple sneaker that is designed to do one thing – be light, and let everyone know it. Personally, I felt that it went a bit too far. And I’m a guy who wears Jordan 5 Bel Airs. The Black logos on a white and pink shoe, the CO2 footprint printed multiple locations, etc.
That being said, after I got my pair, I showed it to a few non-traditional sneakerheads and they all loved it. I was told they felt it was bright and bold, but didn’t carry the same weight that a Jordan or Yeezy might.
If you were to style them, I would suggest keeping them with sporty casual looks. Something like the Lululemon ABC Jogger and a lightweight hoodie. They are too thin to go with something like denim or heavy layers.
Fit & Comfort
The Adidas x Allbirds is a very easy shoe to fit. In addition to fitting fairly true to size for a sneaker, the unstructured upper gives a lot of leeway. Go a half size too small? It will stretch to your foot. Go a half size too big? Pull the laces tight and it will stay on.
Beyond that, the length and width are very typical. I wouldn’t say these are specifically wide foot friendly, but unlike most sneakers they don’t run narrow.
I got these in a size 13, which is my typical sneaker size. This is the same size I am in the Jordan 1 and Adidas Ultraboost. For comparison, I take a size 12.5 in the Stan Smith, and a size 12 in most dress shoes.
For a full list of sizing for all the shoes reviewed on this site, click here.
The Adidas x Allbirds feel exactly like you think they would. In other words, there is a slab of medium density foam and an unstructured upper.
I wouldn’t say these are particularly comfortable sneaker. There is no support at all. However, there is one big redeeming feature – they are incredibly light. These are by far the lightest shoe ever reviewed on this site, and by a lot. At less than half of what a typical “light” sneaker would weigh, and around 2/3 the weight of a dedicated marathon running shoe like the Adios Pro 2, these feel like you’re wearing nothing at all.
The foam might not be anything to write home about compared to other modern sneakers, but nothing is this light.
Materials & Construction
Here is where things get interesting. It’s clear that a whole lot of thought went into the materials of the Adidas x Allbirds.
The upper is 77% recycled polyester and 23% lyocell (a fiber made from wood pulp). Almost everything that goes in the upper – the laces, the lings, and the colorful stitching – is entirely recycled polyester. The only thing on the top of the shoe that Adidas and Allbirds don’t claim to be all natural or recycled is the faux-leather print on the heel.
Moving down, the EVA foam is partly made from plant-based content. Using one of the tricks up Allbirds’ sleeve, the foam uses sugar cane. Believe it or not, it’s actually carbon negative. In other words, the growing of the sugar sucks more carbon out of the air than producing the midsole does.
After all that cool stuff, I’m kind of disappointed to say that the rubber outsoles are made of… rubber. Just the normal stuff you find on every other sneaker. They say it’s environmentally friendly because it’s thin, but I think a thicker outsole that would allow you to wear the sneaker for longer before throwing it away would probably be better for the earth. Oh well, at least the outsole is super light.
The Adidas x Allbirds is made with cemented construction. If you want a more in-depth explanation, click here. However, the short version is that the upper is basically glued onto the midsole of the shoe to keep it together.
Cemented construction is by far the most common way to make a sneaker in 2022. It is an affordable option that offers great flexibility and water protection (though this upper won’t keep out water). The drawbacks are that it isn’t the most durable option, and it’s very difficult to resole.
Pricing & Value
Typically, I’d offer up a number of alternatives and compare prices. However, I’m not really sure that there are any alternatives to this pair. If you want a shoe that puts the environmental materials first and foremost, this is it.
I will say, while $120 feels like a lot for these materials, that isn’t all that much for a brand name sneaker in 2022.
There is no doubt, the Adidas x Allbirds is one of the most environmentally friendly sneakers out there. While I still believe that making it slightly more durable would ultimately be better for the planet, keeping your CO2 usage down is something we should all be thinking about.
There are a lot of people who think that buying something like this is critical. This pair of sneakers achieves that goal, and makes sure everyone else knows you’re doing it, too.
However, if you’re looking for your sneaker to anything else, there is almost certainly a better option for the same price. Want a good lightweight runner? The Adizero Pro is better. Want a comfortable way to advertise your environmental cred? The Ultraboost 22 is made of recycled water bottles.
I wouldn’t avoid the sneakers entirely, just be sure you know what you’re getting into.