Amazon is selling a $35 wool sneaker that looks suspiciously similar to Allbirds, the $95 shoe of choice for Silicon Valley power players

allbirds amazon dollarsAllbirds and AmazonAllbirds has offered a wool blend sneaker since 2014, pictured left. Last month, Amazon rolled out an extremely similar shoe (right).Allbirds and Amazon

It's a tale as old as Silicon Valley itself: A startup introduces a new product with a fun twist. Then, it catches on among tech workers and Silicon Valley power players, and goes on to enjoy national buzz and booming sales.

Then, somebody else starts selling a near-identical product for a fraction of the price.

That's what happened with Allbirds, the San Francisco startup whose $95 shoes, made from Merino wool, have swept Silicon Valley - and, more recently, the country. The startup was founded in 2014 and has gone on to shoe-industry success, raising $17.5 million in a round of venture funding in 2017, before opening its first physical retail stores in 2018.

But last month, an Amazon-brand sneaker appeared on the retail giant's site, with a look and branding that may seem eerily familiar to Allbirds owners. The "206 Collective Galen Wool Blend Sneakers" are promoted with a comfortable soft wool blend and a memory foam insole, just like Allbirds.

There's one big difference between the two brands: The Amazon-brand shoe starts at just $35.18.

The similarity between the two shoes was noted by investor and Tinder executive Jeff Morris, Jr. on Twitter.

"There are no rules anymore," Morris wrote. "If you build a product that works, Amazon or Facebook will copy it. People used to care. Not anymore."

 

Indeed, product reviews of Amazon's wool sneakers were quick to point out similarities to Allbirds - which many reviewers cited as a selling point.

"I love Allbirds, and as these shoes seem to be a direct copy, I thought I would love them too," a user named T. Young wrote in an Amazon review.

"They are similar to my AllBirds, but a lot cheaper. I use these for everyday, and my Allbirds in the weekend," said Amazon reviewer A. Conrad.

Neither Amazon nor Allbirds were immediately available for comment. 

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