The eyes have it thanks to an innovative redesign of the crusty airline eyemask by popular comfy shoe maker Allbirds.
Allbirds has teamed with Air New Zealand to redesign the airline staple using New Zealand merino wool and a castor oil-based foam to end the problem of light leakage.
The comfortable mask, dubbed the Bird Mask because of its quirky beak, is reusable and made from “ZQ-certified” wool. ZQ Merino wool is a high-end product that requires growers to meet standards in animal welfare, environmental care and social sustainability.
The design includes moulded eye indentations allowing for natural eye movement, while the beak provides a comfortable seal against the face to completely block out light.
The company says it stumbled on to the bird mask idea as something “whimsical and fun” as it tried to solve the light leakage problem.
Air New Zealand collaborated on the design of the mask, including conducting onboard trials to provide feedback throughout its development.
Air New Zealand chief marketing & customer officer Mike Tod said there was a natural alignment between the two brands, which were well known for showcasing New Zealand to the world.
“Like Air New Zealand, Allbirds punches above its weight and has truly made a name for itself as a disruptor in the footwear industry,’’ Tod said.
“Both brands are also famous for comfort. Allbirds produces the world’s most comfortable shoes while we’re proud to offer our customers the best sleep in the sky.
“By putting our heads together we’ve created a product our customers will truly value and re-use again and again, while also benefitting New Zealand’s international brand awareness.”
Air New Zealand is providing the mask in its Business premier cabin on selected North American routes throughout October, including its daily NZ1/NZ2 flight between Los Angles and London.
Allbirds’s popular sneakers have been a big hit in the US and other markets, partly because of they’re made of sustainable materials and partly because of their high comfort.
“Air New Zealand approached us with a really high set of standards around the type of the in-cabin experience that they wanted us to create and then set us free to try and see if we could solve it within the context of the eyemask,” Allbirds co-founder and chief executive Tim Brown said.
“The result is a merino wool execution that I think is incredibly thoughtful, incredibly fun and also functionally really successful.”