The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (July 2020)
|Founder||Johann Adam Birkenstock|
Birkenstock Group B.V. & Co. KG is a German shoe manufacturer known for its production of Birkenstocks, a German brand of sandals and other shoes notable for their contoured cork footbeds (soles) made with layers of suede and jute, which conform to the shape of their wearers' feet.
Founded in 1774 by Johann Adam Birkenstock and headquartered in Neustadt (Wied), Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, the company's original purpose was to create shoes that support and contour the foot, compared to the flat soles of many shoes during that time. In 1896 the Fussbett (footbed) was created and by 1925 Birkenstocks were sold all over Europe.
In 1966, Margot Fraser first brought Birkenstocks to America. In the US, they were sold in health stores, thus becoming associated with hippies in the 1970s.
In 2015, the EVA, a rubber sandal made out of ethylene-vinyl acetate, was made as a cheaper alternative to the original cork Birkenstock.
Various fashion designers have used Birkenstocks. Phoebe Philo created one of the better known designs for Celine. Composed of Birkenstock's Arizona and a mink covered footbed, the sandal is commonly called the "Furkenstock".
In February 2021, L Catterton, the private equity firm backed by Bernard Arnault's LVMH, said it had agreed to buy the German footwear group Birkenstock in a deal that valued the company at about €4bn.
The Birkenstock brand traces its roots to Johann Adam Birkenstock, registered in 1774 as a "vassal and shoemaker" in local church archives in the small Hessian village of Langen-Bergheim. In 1896, Johann's great-great-grandson Konrad Birkenstock developed the first contoured insole for use by shoemakers in the production of custom footwear. Also in the year 1896 Konrad created the Fussbett (footbed) and opened two shoe stores in Frankfurt, Germany, where he continued to make and sell his insoles.[better source needed] The Birkenstock company created many educational courses to help spread awareness of the benefits of its shoes; in 1947, Konrad's son, Carl Birkenstock, wrote the book "Podiatry-The Carl Birkenstock System"—one of many books released by Birkenstock. The year 1902 saw the development of the first flexible arch-support for insertion into factory-made shoes; and in 1964, Karl Birkenstock developed these inserts into a shoe — thus producing the original prototype of the Birkenstock sandal. In 1925 Konrad Birkenstock expanded the company by buying a large factory in Friedberg, Hesse. After World War II (1939–1945) the Birkenstock sandal was popular among returning soldiers because of the orthopedic support. Starting in 1963 and continuing into 1964 Karl Birkenstock released his first athletic sandal with a flexible footbed called Madrid. The shoe was constructed so that the wearer would have to grip their toes in order keep the sandals on, this resulted in toning the calf muscle, which became quite useful to athletes, especially among gymnasts.[better source needed]
Margot Fraser and introduction to U.S.
In 1966, Margot Fraser a German dressmaker who resided in California, decided to travel back to Germany to visit a spa in Bavaria, where she was recommended Madrids to help with a foot ailment caused by tight shoes.[better source needed] Due to Fraser's relief from her foot condition and her enthusiasm for the sandals, Birkenstocks were introduced in the United States—though some hurdles stood in the way of their eventual acceptance by American buyers. The sandals were rejected by many shoe stores due to their appearance, which led Fraser to health stores, specifically near the granola section. The 1970s brought a spike in sales. In the United States, Birkenstocks were first popular among young men and later on among flower children, a group traditionally associated with American liberalism. The shoe became popular with hippies and others who had a "back to nature" philosophy and appreciated the natural foot shape and foot-friendly comfort of Birkenstocks. In 1973, Birkenstock's most popular sandal, the Arizona, was introduced.
Expansion and present day
Fraser founded a trading company named Birkenstock Footprint Sandals, Inc., in Novato, California. Renamed Birkenstock Distribution USA, Inc. (BDUSA), in 2005, the company remained until 2007 the exclusive importer and distributor of Birkenstock name-brand products in the United States. In 2007 the owners of Birkenstock Orthopädie GmbH & Co. KG purchased their long-standing distribution partner BDUSA.[better source needed]
In 1986 Nordstrom became the first department store to sell Birkenstock sandals.
In the early 1990s "Birks" enjoyed another spike in sales among high-school and college-aged Generation Xers, in part due to the introduction of Birkenstocks into High Fashion, most notably, Kate Moss. Birkenstocks continued to spread to Britain in the early 2000s due to headlines of Gwyneth Paltrow, who was spotted wearing them. Birkenstocks saw another comeback among teens and young adults in the early 2010s, as well as in the late 2010s due in part to the VSCO girl trend. During the 2004 U.S. presidential primary, some conservatives derided Howard Dean's supporters as "Birkenstock liberals".
In 2012 Birkenstocks were spotted on a Céline runway in Paris. Called "Furkenstocks", this recreation of the Arizona sandal incorporated a mink covered footbed. Many other designers have also created their own version of the sandal including Giambattista Valli and Givenchy.
On June 3, 2021, the Birkenstock Group announced a collaboration with fashion designer Rick Owens. Starting on June 4 of that year, interpretations of the Arizona and Boston models were released. A new Rotterdam style was also presented and released for sale.
The original footbed of the Birkenstock shoe was created in the 1930s and possesses four different layers that complete the shoes. The first layer of the shoe is the shock absorbent sole, followed by a layer of jute fibers, a firm cork footbed and another layer of jute. The last layer is the footbed line which is a soft suede.[better source needed]
In addition to the original footbed, Birkenstock also gives the option of a soft footbed. The shoe is made of the same materials as the original footbed, with the addition of a foam insert placed under the suede lining.
- "History: Birkenstock Group". www.birkenstock-group.com. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
- e.V., Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus. "Johan Adam Birkenstock". www.germany.travel. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
- "Walking History – the one-strap Madrid sandal". Birkenstock Group. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
- "Talk with founder and former CEO of Birkenstock, Margot Fraser". 2010-04-07. Archived from the original on 2017-04-26. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
- Horyn, Cathy (2018-08-20). "Cathy Horyn Travels to Germany to Understand the Unlikely Return of Birkenstocks". The Cut. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
- Carr, Collie (12 March 2006). "Thank You for Insulting Our Sandals". The New York Times. Accessed 7 May 2012.
- "History: Birkenstock Group". www.birkenstock-group.com. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
- Helen Jennings. "The secret of Birkenstock's enduring success". CNN. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
- Wu, Jasmine (2019-09-09). "Teen culture shifted to embrace brands, and the VSCO girl was born". CNBC. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
- Barbara Schneider-Levy,"Birkenstock Is Voted Most Animal-Friendly Shoe Company by PETA’s Youth Group," FootwearNews.com, 14 February 2018.
- Mead, Rebecca. "Happy Ugly Feet". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-11-18.
- Klerk, Amy de (2019-01-17). "Valentino has given Birkenstocks a high-fashion spin". Harper's BAZAAR. Retrieved 2020-11-18.
- "Birkenstock and Rick Owens Continue Their Partnership for a Third Season" (Press release). Birkenstock Group. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
- "Our Footbed". www.birkenstock.com. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
- "BIRKENSTOCK Footwear: Birkenstock Group". www.birkenstock-group.com. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
- Official website
- https://www.mein-outlet.com/outlets/birkenstock-outlet/ List of all Birkenstock outlets in Germany