Barack Obama Keeps Wearing Silicon Valley's Favorite Shoes
If pictures are worth a thousand words, this photo of Barack Obama recording a podcast with his wife Michelle is worth one word, repeated a thousand times: NOOOOOOOOOO! That’s because, as your gaze slowly drifts to the bottom of this photo, you might see Barack is wearing shoes. At which point you are faced with the unavoidable truth that Obama wears Allbirds.
This is not the first time Barack’s worn the Silicon Valley-birthed style-agnostic wool shoes, but it’s certainly the most disquieting. The former president was first seen wearing the sneakers when he attended the Duke versus UNC game. They hardly garnered any attention because all eyes were drawn to a Rag & Bone bomber jacket embroidered with the number “44,” a reference to himself—the 44th president. He wore them again on a summer getaway in the south of France.
Some portion of the concern is due to context. In this latest photo, Barack sits across from Michelle, who looks very cool and relaxed in shorts and no shoes. And then there is Obama, in the comfort of his own home, wearing jeans, a button-up shirt, and Allbirds to record a podcast. This is madness. Zoom Formal—the mode of dressing that mixes presentable business attire on top with third-day sweats down below—is more acceptable than ever. Michelle appears to have perfected that art. I’d also be willing to consider the idea that once in a while a person needs to get dressed up just to feel some sort of structure, even if it is just in the sturdy fit of their jeans. Barry: have you considered some nice slippers?
Ever since leaving office—and even occasionally while still holding the Oval—Obama has experimented with different elements of more-advanced style. There was that bomber jacket, and years before that his infamous tan suit. But lately his casual outfits have reflected a greater interest in being on—or maybe just near—trends. Late last year, he wore tight cropped chinos, a white polo, no-show socks, and Adidas Stan Smith sneakers. The outfit was nearly a decade behind the rest of the menswear world—but, grading on a presidential curve, Obama may as well have been Russell Westbrook in the pregame tunnel.
And while Obama in Allbirds might be a bitter pill for some to follow, they fall solidly within everything we know about the guy. Not only do they speak the same language as most of his fashion choices—the shoes pair as well with dad jeans and anonymous suiting as a reliable Cabernet Sauvignon does with red sauce—but they also align with the former president’s identity. Ever since leaving office, Obama and most of his former cabinet members have fallen in with Big Tech companies like Netflix and Spotify, which spit out products as algorithm-driven as these shoes are. In all areas of life, Obama finds cushy landing spots. And it’s not as if Obama was considered a radical in office—like his shoes, he comes with widespread centrist appeal. (More Americans named him the best president of their lifetime over any other leader.)
Many people love Allbirds: they’re sustainable and fans attest that they’re exceedingly comfortable. Many people would buy a third pair of Allbirds if the opportunity were presented. With both Obama and Allbirds, you have to go to the bleeding edge of their respective categories to find naysayers. If Obama really wants to wear widely beloved sneakers without giving us a migraine, can’t someone send him a pair of Jordans?