Birkenstocks are cool again & celebs can’t get enough of the functional footwear
Hands up if you own a pair of Birkenstocks? Your partner? Your kids? Yup, there’s a whole lotta love for the German fugly footwear brand out there.
Never IN or OUT of fashion you know where you are with a practical pair for Birkenstocks.
In fact, the whole point of the humble Birkenstock is that it has nothing to do with fashion. It transcends trends, refuses to court the industry and simply stands alone.
Worn by Hollywood A listers, film directors, history teachers, hispters and mums, slipping your feet into a pair of Birenstocks is the sartorical equivalent of putting both fingers up to the world and saying, "I’m far too cool to worry about fashion."
The functional footwear brand that refuses to budge, no matter what the world around is thinking.
So where did it all being and why can’t we get enough of them?
Well, the Birkenstock as we know it was invented by Karl Birkenstock in the early ’60s. The simple, function design captured our hearts and we’ve been loving it ever since.
Celebrity fans include Sir Paul McCartney, who was photographed leaving Abbey Road Studios in a pair last month. Brit actress Sienna Miller, who is often seen strolling around NYC in various different styles, US actress Julianne Moore and The Hills star Whitney Port.
Relatively unchanged over the past seven decades, new styles have been added but the basic structure of the shoes remains relatively unchanged.
The family owned business will make 25 million pairs of shoes this year. That’s 15 million more pairs than they made in 2012. The company doesn’t release results but it’s estimated that sales have tripled since 2012 to £800 million.
And according thecut.com, the anti-fashion brand turned downed Supreme and Vestments because they wanted to put logos on sandals.
Talking to thecut.com, Chief Executive Oliver Reichert explained “There’s no benefit for us except prostitution. Because this is just prostitution.”
Staunchly anti-trends, he goes on to say: “I don’t give a sh*t about fashion,” Reichert tells me. “Fashion is, pfffttt, what is fashion? Inditex [owner of Zara] is doing fashion 12 times a year. What is this nonsense? But I know people are hungry for pure things. And there’s a huge crowd of people heavily believing in and loving this brand.”
While we couldn’t agree more, the brand has just launched their new Birko-Flor in Magic snake, which gives more than a passing nod to one of the season’s biggest trends.
Coincidence? We guess it must be.
A brief history of Birkenstocks
Late 19th century
In the late 19th Century Konrad Birkenstock, a Frankfurt cobbler, began making shot with contoured insoles to cater for the European and American elite, flocking to resorts to water cures.
Konrad’s son Carl developed the contoured souls using a blend of latex and wine cork. The brand becomes synonymous with foot health.
Suffering from painful feet, Margot Fraser discovers the brand whilst on a spa trip to Germany. Margot contacts Karl to explore the idea of importing the shoes to California. The shoes are sold in health food stores and become an emblem of the peace and environmental movements.
In the US the Birkenstock emerges as the shoe of the opposition.
The sandal made a surprise appearance on the runway as part of the Marc Jacobs’s 1992 grunge collection for Perry Ellis. Fashion fans flock to snap up similar styles.
Celine designer Phoebe Philo lined the black Arizona with mink, and sent it down the runway as part of her SS13 collection. The brand became synonymous with her minimalist chic and a long dress with a pair of Birkenstock became the season’s definitive look.
Where to buy
Arizona Magic Snake Birko-Flor, £60, Birkenstock
Arizona sheepskin VI,£40.78 – £110, Amazon
Black Arizona two strap, £55, ASOS
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