The Kiwi footwear has become a favourite of Silicon Valley elites. But are the shoes now furnishing the feet of top Republican and speaker of the house Paul Ryan? Jihee Junn investigates
As the fire and fury raged through Washington DC, Donald Trump took to his Camp David retreat earlier this week to hash out his New Years’ agenda. After a series of closed-door meetings, Trump emerged with his Republican leaders in tow for a rare Q&A session with the press.
While Trump chose to stick to his usual ensemble of coiffed hair and Brioni suit, his supporting cast chose to go for slightly less formal attire in tune with Camp David’s woodland surroundings. Senate majority leader and expert turtle impersonator Mitch McConnell ditched the formal tie for sweater vest and jeans, while speaker of the house Paul Ryan made the unusual choice of wearing one of those zip-up fleece jackets with a popped collar underneath his blazer (perhaps taking inspiration from shirt-layering guru Steve Bannon).
What’s more unusual, however, was Ryan’s shoes, which one keen-eyed observer was quick to note had a strong resemblance to Kiwi brand Allbirds’ iconic grey Wool Runners.
With this lucrative nugget of social media speculation, we did what any sane-thinking, rigorously-minded journalist would do: email his press secretary. Within half an hour of pressing send on our Extremely Urgent Political Fashion Inquiry, we received this response:
While no further comment was made regarding the Speaker’s thoughts on The World’s Most Comfortable Shoes, we can assume his choice of footwear for the “extremely productive conversation” he had with Trump and McConnell means the merino wool sneakers gets the Paul Ryan tick of approval.
Whether Allbirds gives Paul Ryan its tick of approval, however, is a whole other matter.
After all, Ryan’s harboured a long-running scepticism around clean energy and climate change programmes, while Allbirds’ whole schtick revolves around its sustainable and eco-friendly credentials. We’ve contacted Allbirds for its thoughts on its latest high profile fan, but we’ve yet to receive a response.
Ryan, however, has long been known as a bit of a paradox anyway, revealing back in 2012 as a vice-presidential candidate for Mitt Romney that he was a fan of Rage Against the Machine – the four-piece rap-rock group whose favourite topics of discussion include lambasting American imperialism and campaigning against the jailing of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay (“I hate the lyrics, but I like the sound” was his reasoning).
Still, at least Ryan had the decency to buy the real deal rather than the Steve Madden knockoffs.
The Spinoff’s business content is brought to you by our friends at Kiwibank. Kiwibank backs small to medium businesses, social enterprises and Kiwis who innovate to make good things happen.
The Spinoff Daily gets you all the day's best reading in one handy package, fresh to your inbox Monday-Friday at 5pm.