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

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

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 $US95 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 $US17.5 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 $US35.18.

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.

When reached for comment, an Allbirds spokesperson said they had no direct response to Amazon’s shoes, but touted their own environmental record, quoting one of the product reviews on Amazon’s site.

“We’re aware of the shoes released by Amazon’s 206 Private Label and its similarities with our Allbirds Wool Runners,” the spokesperson said. “While we have no specific response at this time, we wholeheartedly echo the sentiment in the top review for Amazon’s product: ‘I hope Amazon has made these shoes with the same environmental ethos that Allbirds have. It’s not enough to simply copy their shoes, they need to follow their environmental actions too!'”

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

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