Here’s why your next pair of sneakers may be made out of wool

Wool shoes
Allbirds is a brand-new startup that sells an all-wool sneaker for $95. Facebook/Allbirds

The hottest new trend in sneakers? Wool.

Yes, that wool. The same kind of fabric that lines your favourite suits and overcoats is now being used in running apparel, according to Bloomberg.

Everyone seems to be giving it a try, from startups like Allbirds, who make simple shoes with uppers made entirely out of wool, to Nike, who has collaborated with Pendleton Woolen Mills to make a line of sneakers using the brand’s signature fabric and patterns.

It turns out wool has some surprising benefits.

Wool is a light, all-natural material that’s able to regulate internal temperatures and still insulate even when wet. It also has natural moisture-wicking properties and antimicrobial tendencies.

Now for the bad news: wool is pretty expensive. The wool version of Nike sneakers cost $20 more than the regular versions, and Allbirds’ sneakers cost a relatively high (for the category) $95.

Nike has collaborated with Oregon-based Pendleton Woolen Mills to produce wool versions of Nike classics. Nike

Still, startups and big corporations alike are betting on the new material to differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded market. The number of new models of sneakers introduced in the past year has increased by 39% according to WGSN, a fashion consultancy, as told to Bloomberg.

Will wool take off? Only time will tell, but early signs point to a promising start. A sports industry analyst told Bloomberg that natural materials like wool are especially popular among millennial consumers.

Allbirds has already raised $2.7 million in venture capital funds after shopping its Kickstarter shoe around in Silicon Valley and New York.

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