Eco-Friendly Clothing Business Allbirds Invests in Natural Fiber Welding, a Sustainable Textile Startup Company

By James White Friday, February 26, 2021

Those looking to reduce their ecological footprint may turn to a growing number of companies and businesses across industries for green goods and services. Sustainable clothing company Allbirds provides consumers with eco-friendly shoes and other apparel made from natural and recycled materials. The green clothing company recently invested $2 million in Natural Fiber Welding (NFW), an eco-friendly textile startup business producing a plant-based leather.

“For too long, fashion companies have relied on dirty synthetics and unsustainable leather, prioritizing speed and cost over the environment,” said Joey Zwillinger, Allbirds co-founder and co-CEO. “Natural Fiber Welding is creating scalable, sustainable antidotes to leather, and doing so with the potential for a game-changing 98% reduction in carbon emissions. Our partnership with NFW and planned introduction of Plant Leather based on their technology is an exciting step on our journey to eradicate petroleum from the fashion industry.”

Shirt-shaped plant growth with a handshake in the middle.

Sustainably Sourced Plant Materials

Founded in 2015 by Dr. Luke Haverhals, entrepreneur and chemist, the startup business headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, initially developed Clarus, a patented processing technology designed to produce high-performance cotton fiber without the addition of plastic or petroleum products.

In 2018, Mirum, a plastic-free leather alternative, was created by the startup business. On February 3, the sustainable material startup company announced the construction of a dedicated manufacturing facility for the plant leather material. The products manufactured by the startup can be “infinitely recycled or returned unimpeded to Nature’s nutrient cycles.”

NFW Finds Support From Businesses in Multiple Industries

Since the founding of the startup company, investors have backed the eco-friendly business to the tune of roughly $15 million, including the latest contribution from Allbirds. The plant-derived leather manufacturer has already partnered with the likes of Porsche in the automotive industry, providing vegan leather trim options on the automaker’s Taycan fully-electric sports car.

In addition to Allbirds, the fashion industry has embraced NFW’s leather alternative, as prominent luxury fashion design company Ralph Lauren Corporation led the startup’s $13 million venture round in 2020.

“Today, sustainability is an area where this is especially important, and investing with partners to scale innovative solutions is a key part of our sustainability strategy,” said Ralph Lauren Vice Chairman and CIO David Lauren. “We are excited to support the work of NFW, a pioneer in this field.”

Market research projects the global ethical fashion market to value $8.25 billion by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.33% from 2020 to 2023.

About the Author

Headshot of James White

James White is a Michigan State University graduate with a BS in Environmental Biology. He is interested in reporting emerging trends in technology, especially with regard to alternative energy and environmental conservation.

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