Forbes India 30 Under 30 2023

Birkenstocks: From ugly shoes to the ultimate luxury must-haves

At nearly 250 years old, Birkenstocks are taking a new turn, like their counterparts—Crocs, jelly sandals, and the likes—shaking off the campsite vibe for the refinement of the catwalk

Published: Mar 17, 2022 06:34:22 PM IST
Updated: Mar 17, 2022 06:42:41 PM IST

Birkenstocks: From ugly shoes to the ultimate luxury must-havesSandals and clogs from the Birkenstock and Manolo Blahnik collaboration. Image: Stefan Sieler

Ugly, outdated, has-been, even downright dorky... Birkenstocks, despite their iconic status, have seen it all over the decades. As coveted as they are mocked, these iconic sandals are now the most desirable shoes of the year thanks to five-star collaborations with the biggest luxury labels.

They are THE comfort shoes par excellence, shoes that have managed to assert their lack of style while transcending the trends of the moment. This has often earned them the status of ugly, even old-fashioned shoes, even though they are worn by virtually everyone as soon as the weather turns warm. But at nearly 250 years old, Birkenstocks are taking a new turn, like their counterparts—Crocs, jelly sandals, and the likes—shaking off the campsite vibe for the refinement of the catwalk. So forget the beach, these famous sandals are now becoming the ultimate fashion icons.

The rise of all things ugly—which have become the height of chic over the last year—probably has something to do with this rise. Then again, perhaps it's more a matter of appearance and pretense. After all, today, who doesn't have a pair of Birkenstocks in their closet? Or who hasn't had their eye on one of the brand's countless pairs of sandals, synonymous with extreme comfort? But it's probably more difficult to admit to a secret love for the hardcore camper look than for a pair of Birkenstocks customized by Carrie Bradshaw's favorite shoe manufacturer. And that's the difference.

Birkenstocks slip into velvet

Manolo Blahnik, the creator of the most coveted stilettos on the planet, is now helping to transform the status of these classic beach shoes, thanks to a most luxurious collaboration. It brings color, shiny details and high-end materials—the perfect combo to elevate these humble sandals to the rank of icon of the year. With this partnership, the 200-year-old brand gets the most stunning facelift, shining in unprecedented style.

Models revisited by Manolo Blahnik include the 'Arizona' sandal—perhaps the brand's most iconic style—which is adorned with fuchsia or blue velvet—your choice—or a soft black leather. All is embellished with luxurious crystals, a symbol of unparalleled chic. These details, materials and colors are also found on the 'Boston' clog, all of which will—without a doubt—let you shine at the most glamorous summer parties, from Saint-Malo to Saint-Tropez, and possibly even a campsite in Cornwall. The first part of the collab' is expected to land in a few days' time...

But that's not all. Manolo Blahnik—who himself says he has always had Birkenstocks in his wardrobe—isn't the only designer with a soft spot for the sandals. Earlier in the year, it was on the Dior Homme catwalk, nonetheless, that the shoe made an appearance! Kim Jones himself has dressed up Birkenstocks for summer (although from the fall-winter 2022 collection, the models will be available in June), covering them with felt or suede—again the choice is yours—but also, for some creations, with floral embroidery that's the height of elegance. What was that about Birkenstocks being ugly?

After having conquered the beaches and campsites of the world, the sensible sandal could soon be stepping out at the most select parties in fashion's major capitals. Ugly shoes are clearly—and definitely—living their best life right now.

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