HomeNEWSThe Retail Hotlist: Coco’s Cantina and Allbirds are ‘Hottest pop-up store’

The Retail Hotlist: Coco’s Cantina and Allbirds are ‘Hottest pop-up store’

Nominees: The Daily Edited, Made in Mexico, Nespresso, Havaianas, Onceit, House of Vans, Nudie Jeans, Karen Walker + Hedleys Booksellers, Allbirds + Coco’s Cantina, Escea.

People’s choice

Coco’s Cantina + Allbirds

Judges’ choice

Coco’s Cantina + Allbirds

Woollen sneaker brand Allbirds came together with eatery Coco’s Cantina to give New Zealand consumers a first chance to get up close and personal with the shoes. Perched on Karangahape Rd, Coco’s exhibited Allbirds’ sustainable, woollen shoe varieties within the restaurant, and staff donned custom sneakers in Coco’s Cantina’s colours. The interesting partnership came from a mutual recognition for quality, craft, imagination, and sustainability; as seen with Allbirds’ use of locally sourced, renewable and sustainable merino wool, and Coco’s Cantina’s egalitarian ethos, which prioritises staff over profit.

Customers could use the opportunity to see, try and order anything from the range, and then have it delivered the next day. 

“Coco’s is really committed to innovation,” says Allbirds co-founder Tim Brown. “Not just with the food but in the way, that they hire and build their team. They’ve hired a really diverse range of people to work there and I they hold a really incredible warmth and energy. So, I think the pop-up was a really natural extension.”

The pop-up allowed Kiwi fans of the brand to see the shoes, try them on, then have them delivered to their homes. Brown says the collaboration suited Coco’s dedication to creativity and prioritisation of staff wellbeing over profit. 

“I also think to that this idea of innovating through nature, they do that with their raw ingredients as well. They present a brand to the whole that is really humble and understated, but full of world class expertise, so I think there is a bunch of similarities there between them and the Allbirds brand.”

The two local brands designed a bespoke range of laces blended with the restaurant’s signature colour, which were free with any purchase at the showroom.

“The response to it was great, New Zealand is a very important place to us, obviously it’s where I’m from and where the idea for this product was from. And although now we are based in San Francisco, I very much think of New Zealand as home. So, it is important to come back often.”

The positive vibes that the collaboration brought was something only done by mutual appreciation. Allbirds’ use of locally sourced, renewable and sustainable merino wool, and Coco’s Cantina’s egalitarian ethos suited well for the pop-up weekend which was a whole experience, rather than just another showroom focused just on trade. 

“It’s important to realize that retail is not always about the transaction,” says Brown. “It’s about the interaction. So, doing that along with another brand like Coco’s is something it feels like we’ve done successfully.”

Co-founders Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger

Judges’ comments from James Blackwood: The notion of shoes displayed in a restaurant may seem a little odd, even uninviting. Until you make the connection between craft, quality, sustainability and a reputation for doing things with flair and imagination. So Allbirds teaming up with Coco’s Cantina for their first New Zealand outing seemed like a perfect fit and was both original and conversation-worthy.

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail magazine issue 756 June/July 2018

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Courtney Devereux is a Communication Consultant at Clear Hayes and freelance business writer.