Amazon is notorious for brazenly making cheaper lookalikes of popular products on the market, from Warby Parker glasses to the Instant Pot. The retail giant’s latest target? Allbirds, the three-year-old shoe company that has made sustainability the cornerstone of its growing sneaker empire.
Last week Amazon’s in-house shoe brand, 206 Collective, launched a shoe called the “Galen,” a wool-blend sneaker with a foam sole that looks remarkably close to Allbirds’ flagship product, the Wool Runner. Amazon’s version comes in grey, with either a white or grey sole, making the resemblance even more obvious, since these are two of Allbirds’ best-known color combinations. (Amazon declined to comment for this story.) But while Allbirds’ sells its sneaker for $95, Amazon’s version sells for $45.
Joey Zwillinger, Allbirds cofounder and co-CEO, responded to Amazon in an interview with Co.Design. It’s not the similarities in design that bother him most; it’s the fact that Amazon did not go so far as to copy Allbirds’ stringent sustainability practices. While he’d prefer that Amazon not copy Allbirds’s design at all, he’s encouraging the brand to borrow freely from his company’s eco-friendly supply chain practices, including some of the sustainable new materials Allbirds has invented.