The co-founder of iconic New Zealand wool shoe company All Birds is excited about the future of the wool sector, which he says can be at the forefront of global innovation.
Former soccer player, Tim Brown co-founded the company in 2016, which is now a global success, with Time Magazine calling them the most comfortable shoes in the world.
- Wool-ovation competition launched to find the next big idea for wool
- Kiwi ingenuity develops world's first wool surfboard
- Kiwi shoe company launches eco-friendly jandals
He's in New Zealand for the opening of the company's first New Zealand outlet, in Auckland on Thursday.
While the New Zealand wool industry has been through tough times, Brown told The Project that things are looking up.
"Wool's had a hard time for a long time, but it is having a moment and it's a very very exciting time to part of that industry," he said.
He said the sector hadn't marketed itself well for a long time.
"Peak sheep in New Zealand was in the eighties, and it's been on a decline, and maybe there's not too many Kiwis growing up wanting to be a sheep farmer," said Brown.
"I'd like to think that is changing, that's certainly what we are seeing on the ground in the States.
Brown described the All Birds concept as a 'simple idea that maybe got overlooked by the industry.'
"A really big industry that was defaulting making shoes out of synthetics and not very nice materials."
He said he didn't know anything about shoes, and was playing football at the time in Wellington for the Phoenix.
"I saw something that was overlooked and maybe got a little bit lucky and worked hard."
The shoes were first embraced by 'tech nerds' when the company started in 2016
"They got adopted by that community, then in New York, and the States, then New Zealand and now Europe and China."
Brown said New Zealand merino sector had a fantastic opportunity to be at the forefront of innovation.
"Consumers are starting to demand to know where the things they wear and buy come from."
Sustainability is a big discussion topic and and wool can be at the forefront of that."