After publishing the carbon footprint details of all its products recently, the New Zealand-American footwear company Allbirds has now expanded its clothing range to include premium underwear, launching a limited-edition collection of super soft undies for women and men.
Made from a blend of fabrics such as Tencel, a material derived from responsibly harvested Eucalyptus tree fibres, and merino wool, the brand’s new underwear collection features men’s boxer brief styles and women’s thong, brief, shortie and bralette styles.
The carbon footprint for Allbirds underwear ranges from 1.2-4 kg CO2e but is rendered carbon neutral given the brand’s use of eco-friendly fabrics and purchase of carbon offsets to mitigate its climate impact.
The products come in a variety of colours such as storm, raincloud, aloe, wheat, nimbus, malibu and boulder. Men’s sizes range from small to XXL while the women’s collection is more size-inclusive, ranging from XS to XXXL.
While the Kiwi founded brand has found a cult following amongst sustainability advocates and millennial shoppers alike, it has come under recent controversy over its commitments to racial and ethnic diversity and environmental justice.
On a four-tile Instagram post, the brand published a note from its co-founders Tim and Joey regarding racial and environmental injustice:
“Black, Indigenous and People of Color have been forced to bear the brunt of environmental injustice. In America, Black communities have experienced the most severe consequences of climate change – facing far higher rates of life threatening issues such as preterm births, asthma and other lung diseases.”
The note continues:
“As the globe rallies around addressing racial injustice, we understand the importance of doing more work at the intersection of social impact and climate pollution. We have a lot to do, but we promise that we’ll continue working towards the betterment of our planet and all of its people – not just the privileged.”
The post garnered 157 comments (at the time of writing) displaying a mix of reactions. While some followers appreciated the brand’s public acknowledgement of the racial disparities in the environmental movement and transparency, others expressed disgust at the brand’s pandering and virtue signalling as well as its leadership group’s lack of diversity.
Brigette Krause commented, “Thank you for sharing your numbers, that’s important and not all companies have done so. Especially looking at the leadership numbers, I was quite shocked not only in regards to representation of black people, but also the number of females. I can only hope that you take the opportunity of this transparency and understanding to make necessary changes.”
Karen Garlock Etling retorted, “Stop pandering and sell your overpriced shoes made in China.”
While Liz Black asks, “What percent of employees at the decision-making level are Black or POC? We need transparency from you to be able to hold you accountable.”
As if to prove its commitment to intersectionality within the sustainability movement, the company chose to close all its American stores and warehouses on June 19th, or Juneteeth, which marks the day slaves were emancipated in the United States in 1865.
Recognising the significance of the day, Allbirds granted all its US employees a paid holiday.
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