Allbirds, Chinatown Market Unveil Multiphased Sustainability Partnership

Allbirds and Chinatown Market are launching a multitiered partnership centered in sustainability.

The San Francisco-based footwear company and the Los Angeles-based streetwear label have teamed on a five-episode IGTV series on both brand accounts, featuring creatives hosting digital sessions on sustainable design and do-it-yourself production methods. At the series conclusion, viewers can submit their projects for a chance to win a two-week digital mentorship with Allbirds and Chinatown Market.

To kick off this partnership, the companies tapped upcycled fashion artist Nicole McLaughlin to partner on a collection. The collection will be available via online auction on August 7.

“This is all about celebrating responsible design,” said Allbirds cofounder and co-chief executive officer Tim Brown. “From Nicole McLaughlin’s upcycled creations, to our upcoming IGTV series on creating sustainably, we really want to emphasize that true innovation comes from making the most with what’s right in front of you — and for us, that’s materials from nature. But we don’t just want to talk about it — we want to challenge designers to apply these lessons to their own work.”

Chinatown Market founder and creative director Mike Cherman introduced McLaughlin to Brown who said she was a natural fit for the project because of her ability to repurpose everyday objects into new styles. Allbirds gave her scraps and leftover fabrics and materials from its prototype laboratory, and the result is one-of-a-kind pieces including a utility vest made entirely of Allbirds uppers and a lounge chair built out of knit squares from sample testing.

“She is a real champion of the idea that you don’t have to start from scratch to make something new, and has helped make the concept of designing sustainably more accessible,” Brown said.

Brown added that the partnership was inspired by challenges created by COVID-19. The inability to travel disrupted many creatives’ workflows, but most, if not all, have found a way to produce during these unprecedented and uncertain times. But as they get their projects off the ground, the partners aim to create a sustainable foundation for future design.

Cherman said, “The ultimate goal of what this can bring to the market is a solidified view and understanding of how special Allbirds’ product really is and how we all need to take notes on the realities of true sustainability. Sometimes the message can get lost among the commerce and business of it all, but in slowing down this process, working with a select crew of insanely talented designers, we hope to inspire the next generation of kids to go out there and make change through design.”

Brown and Cherman did not reveal the other designers taking part in this project, but Cherman said, “Each creator will bring their own lens and perspective to the project as a whole and we’re excited to see where they take it.”

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