Let’s start from here so you can have a clearer picture than just their names. Looking at the two after a lot of research and analysis, they are pretty good brands and the major difference between the two is the materials used in producing the footwear.
The major difference is that while Allbirds make sure to produce their footwear from natural blends of tree pulp, plants, shrubs, and even leaves, Nike uses a combination of mostly synthetic materials.
Nike does have organic materials in their products like natural rubber and 10% cotton but it is far cry from the naturally grown eucalyptus trees, castor bean oil, and merino wool, all grown without artificial irrigation, fertilizers, and the likes, that are processed to form the materials they use.
Quick overview of Nike
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By overview I mean history, and I promise it will be brief. Nike is way older than you think. In fact, they didn’t start as Nike with the simple swoosh logo.
When Phil Knight started on January 25, 1964, he was a student at the University of Oregon, and together with his coach, Bill Bowerman, they distributed shoes made by a Japanese shoemaker named Onitsuka Tiger.
They were called Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS). In 1971, Bill Bowerman made the first pair of Nikes after he ended business with Onitsuka.
He rebranded the company, naming it Nike which is after the Greek goddess of victory, and started using the swoosh logo.
The company became official on May 19th, 1971, and registered three years later on January 22nd, 1974.
It started using the famous “Just do it” slogan in 1988 and throughout the 1980s expanded its products from just athletic footwear to sports apparel and streetwear in many sports.
Over the years Nike has created and marketed under its brand and had collaborations with other companies like Nike Golf, Air Force 1, Nike Dunk, and so on.
Now they supply to over 45 countries with 700 shops. Anyone you ask will tell you how comfortable and stylish Nike footwear is and how proud they are to have them.
Quick overview of Allbirds
Allbirds sprang up 6 years ago and in a short time, they have made admirable progress.
In 2008, Tim Brown, a cofounder, decided that instead of the sneakers he got from sponsors, a simpler version that was both comfortable and sustainable would be better.
In 2014, he started a Kickstarter campaign where he raised $120,000 in just 5 days. Not too long after, he teamed up with Joey Zwillinger, a biotech engineer and an expert in renewable materials.
Together the two started producing sneakers from plants and trees. Tim says the name Allbirds was inspired by the many birds in New Zealand.
They have a B corporation, and that means that they are certified for social and environmental performance. If you don’t seem that good enough in the 6 years since they began they have progressed a lot.
They sell in New Zealand, the United States of America, China, the Netherlands, South Korea, and other countries. They have a collaboration with Adidas in 2020, and recently, they have opened stores in Australia.
Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama are not only supporters of these simple, sustainable footwear but wearers too. They say they are the most comfortable shoes in the world.
Similarities between Allbirds and Nike
Nike and Allbirds, years of experience apart, do have their similarities. Let’s see what they are:
Nike and Allbirds are known for their durability. And this can only be possible with their premium materials.
Both brands, over the years, know and understand the importance of a durable pair of shoes no matter the function it was designed for. And they do well to keep to it.
Nike with its synthetic materials is durable lasting months and even years with its premium high-quality materials. For Allbirds, nature is not an excuse.
They use the best they can find and on processing to ensure that the quality is not reduced. This way Tim Brown’s goal of sustainability is achieved.
Producing more than just footwear
As much as I want to cut Allbirds some slack because of the short time they have started, I can’t.
Why? First, it would not be an honest comparison, and two, they are really at par with Nike. Maybe not earning as much or delivering all around the globe but they are just as diverse as Nike.
Since the 1980s, Nike moved up from shoes to sporting and casual clothes and accessories.
You get a full costume if only Nike because they have everything: cleats, running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, trainers, headbands, sweat suits, t-shirts, tracksuits, shorts, tops, hoodies, jackets, leggings, the list is endless.
Allbirds has diversified through collaboration with other brands. Adidas may be the only one you know but there have been Chinatown market, Bráulio Amado, Sydney, and World Central Kitchen to produce not just sneakers but other types of sustainable footwear.
They also partnered with Air New Zealand to produce sleep masks and then Outdoor voices for everyday essentials, head to toe.
Let’s get into the comparison between the shoes
First glance features
What’s a brand comparison without actual product comparison? Comparing them all will be a bore and quite unfair so will be doing one category.
We will be comparing Allbirds Tree Dashers and Nike Zoom Pegasus. To be fair I have chosen these two because they are the best for running. So let’s see:
Allbirds Tree Dashers
Let’s start from the surface view. The Allbirds dashers are not bad. They have a modern look, and minimalist shoes, they have a great look that is both athletic, casual, and great for leisure. The mesh upper is breathable. Also, it is a one-piece upper.
The collar, the tongue, and even the eyelets are in one piece. There are no stitches or designs on the upper. The outsole comes up a bit at the toe to form a small toe roll.
The outsoles have small spike-looking patterns that will give traction and prevent slipping. The outsole itself is thick and towards the arch, it moves in to cushion the arch and give arch support.
The laces are added for an adjustable fitting. The huge eyelets make it easy to take out and slip laces through. Also, these, like all Tree Dashers are low tops.
Nike Zoom Pegasus
Now you will notice that this looks a lot like Allbirds. There are stitches on the upper where the eyelets are and then a bit of detail around the sides and the heel.
It proudly shows off the Nike swoosh logo on the size. The soles are very similar with the outsole being thinner and straight except for the pattern.
It is also a low top, the upper has holes that will allow ventilation of air, and the soles though with a design on them don’t have arch support.
The white part of the sole seems to take up more of the sides and a bit of the upper. Hence it has a small toe roll. One thing about the sole though is the back.
It juts out a little, great for shock absorption, balance and traction.
Now to business. When we say quality, it is not just about the materials because the assembling can alter things. How about service?
Nike does have great customer service and they are very easy to get because they are sold on so many online platforms other than theirs, like Amazon and Jumia.
For Allbirds, it’s not the same. They use a direct-to-consumer method which gives you that one-on-one service and ensures you get quality products on time.
Allbirds are not known for their style. They are very plain, with very few designs sporting an ombre blend.
They are minimalist and hence don’t pay any attention to design. However, the plainness still gives it a cool, casual, and relaxed look that gives them an altogether cool look.
The opposite is the case for Nike. Given you a lot of quality they finish it off with the most modern looks and designs.
That’s what makes Niks so popular. Each category of Nike shoes is also different from the other, not just in purpose or function but in look and design.
Nike soles are made of EVA foam, a very durable material that is known to last up to 10 years, while Allbirds use Sweetfoam, a new invention made from sugarcane.
Nike can withstand extreme temperatures and even some chemicals and toxic substances. It is very flexible and comfortable.
Allirds shoes are a type of carbon-negative EVA that is healthier for the environment and just as durable as rubber.
They are also very flexible. However Sweetfoam doesn’t say anything about how long it can last and with an established record, Nike soles are better even though they are not eco-friendly.
If you are super eco-friendly, you will probably pick Allbirds in this area. Well, I do too. Aside from that, these natural materials will last way longer than synthetic materials that will, with time, fall apart.
Also, they are much more comfortable. Although Nike uses synthetic materials, they try to incorporate organic materials like wool and cotton into the materials they use.
The two brands offer great service to the customers. However, how they serve differs.
Nike has its own websites where it displays and sells its products, it has physical shops in many countries and it also sells on online platforms other than theirs like Amazon and eBay.
Allbirds also have an online platform where people can check out their products but they use the direct-to-consumer method.
That means no sales on top online platforms, no wholesale sellers, and no distributors. You just have you, the service personnel and then you get your order. Both have their pros and cons.
Nike sneakers are made of premium synthetic materials that have been processed to last a long time. By a long time I mean 500 to 700 miles.
If you convert that by, say a regular 20 miles run daily, they will do for four, five even six months. Walking shoes may last much more. Nike however gives a two-year warranty.
Allbirds have their work cut out for them. With sustainability as the reason for production, the use of well-processed natural materials, gives you a full two years of use.
Now you might be thinking that it is just as good as Nike but there’s a difference between use and warranty. Nike well-stored unused shoes can last 2 to 3 years so regular use will definitely take it back to six months to a year.
All this math is that Allbirds are more durable than Nike. Never mind that they are not repairable.
Unless they are luxurious, why break the bank over a pair of shoes?
You can get Nike shoes at a range of $60 to $120, while for Allbirds you will be getting at more, $ 98 to $145. Clearly, Nike is cheaper but keep in mind that depending on where you are, shipping, delivery, and other fees will be added.
Also, the type of sneakers will affect that. Still, I find Nikes cheaper than the long-lasting yet expensive Allbirds.
Many people don’t understand the importance of insoles. Aside from comfort, a pair of shoes coming with their original insoles saves you the stress of getting one separately.
When it comes to insoles these brands come with removable and replaceable insoles. Nike however doesn’t offer or manufacture replacement insoles. You will have to get a pair yourself.
Thankfully there are so many Nike replacement insoles. Allbirds manufactures replacement insoles in case yours wear out.
For sizing and fitting, Nike has done a great job there. Yes their shoes tend to run a bit small but they have made them in half sizes, and there is also a wide width line for people with wide feet and extra-wide feet.
Usually, you are advised to size up for Nikes by a half or even a whole. Nikes produce by toddlers to adults of both genders. And Allbirds?
Well, you won’t find them in half sizes but just like Nike they do run small so you will have to size up. They produce for men and women in sizes 8 to 14, and 5 to 11 respectively. They don’t have them in any other widths yet.
My decision? While Nike is experienced and has gone a long while, Allbirds is growing and doing wonderfully. And so with all sentiments and bias aside, I would say you go for Allbirds.
With their direct-to-consumer method, you will receive the best service and quality unadulterated goods.
You are also getting eco-friendly sustainable shoes and with their looks, you are good to go with these. And that’s my take! Have varying opinions or questions you would like to ask?
Leave them in the comment section and I will be seeing you in the next article.