‘There are a lot of uncertainties’: The impact of the first direct-to-consumer brand IPO

Glossy – Late last year, DTC footwear brand Allbirds surpassed a $1 billion valuation, making it one of the largest DTC success stories of the last decade. But while an eventual IPO from either Allbirds or one of the other comparable DTC juggernauts like Warby Parker seems inevitable, it won’t necessarily open the floodgates for others in the space.

While competitors like Bonobos and Warby Parker have all hit the $1 billion mark, as well, Allbirds, launched in 2016, outpaced them both in terms of how fast it achieved unicorn status. Now that the company is one of the largest DTC fashion brands out there, the question is whether it will be pursuing an IPO. When reached for comment, the brand denied that an IPO was imminent.

“We have seen a shift in the last few years, as a number of manufacturers have moved to direct-to-consumer offerings,” said Kathleen Fischer, director of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “This disintermediation offers significant benefits that brands such as Allbirds and Casper have used to their advantage. If [a major DTC brand] has a successful IPO, we will likely see additional DTC brands testing that route. But as they look at this option, these brands need to remember that IPOs require companies to release public metrics and answer to shareholders, which may make it not as desirable as finding a partner to acquire the brand.”

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