May 28, 2015

Five Reasons Behind the Birkenstock Revival

Image courtesy of the author.

Image courtesy of the author.

I am not the first, and will surely not be the last, to write about the resurgence of the humble Birkenstock. Nevertheless, I’ll throw my two cents in because I have never (or ever, really) been so excited about a comfort shoe trend.

I got my first pair of Arizona Birkenstocks my senior year of high school and have essentially lived in them ever since. While I was once ridiculed for sporting the homely, grandpa-esque shoe, I now consider myself a fashion pioneer amongst my friends (hah!). And, if you’ve flipped through a J. Crew catalogue or taken a look at any trendy person’s feet in the past two years, you may have noticed the Birkenstock’s step back into the limelight. That’s right, the sandal that was once for granolas and nerds is now back in action, more hip than hippie, and as comfortable as ever.

Indeed, skeptics and naysayers, the distinctive, “universally ugly,” cork-sole, leather upper sandals are adorning the feet of fashionistas worldwide, including style moguls Naomi Watts, the Olsen twins, and Alexa Chung. And the Birkenstock brand is embracing it. Recent Instagrams pay homage to the shoe’s quirky, offbeat heritage but also highlight its newfound glory with photos like supermodel Kate Upton donning a pair of metallic Arizonas.

So, if you aren’t already an enthusiast, cross over now, because here are five reasons why, despite their orthopedic look, Birkenstocks should never go out of style:

  1. They’re as comfortable as sandals get: If you are desperate for arch support and want a sandal that you could, and may want to live in, look no further than the Birkenstock. This shoe was built to contour your foot arches and give you all the support you’ll ever need from a slider.
  2. They’re versatile: Fit for both men and women, Birkenstocks can be worn around the house (that is if you’re too ashamed to wear them in public), at the beach, while commuting, with shorts, pants, and even with socks. The nerd-chic possibilities are endless.
  3. They’ll last you a lifetime: Well, maybe not a lifetime, but for at least a couple of years. My first pair of Birkenstocks got through multiple summers of chasing around kids, two years of college parties (yes, I wore them out), monsoon season in India and Nepal, and a semester abroad in Europe before petering out on me. Needless to say these shoes are durable. And, if you’re not quite ready to let go of an oh-so-loved but undeniably aged pair, you can always get them repaired.
  4. There are trendy options: You not only have the classic, tan, leather Arizona but can now also choose from hundreds of alternatives. These newer varieties criss cross, have triple and single straps, and come in metallics and prints.
  5. They’re iconic: The Arizona Birkenstock is undeniably recognizable. So recognizable in fact that many companies like Forever 21 and Target have attempted their own knockoff version. The sandal is also well esteemed among style icons like Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, and my grandfather who was known to sport his with wool socks.

And, although even I’m a little skeptical the German orthopedic trend will endure, the brand is known to enjoy a cyclical 10-year fashion revival. So Birkenstock devotees, rest easy and milk this fad for all its worth. Converts, enjoy the comfort while the craze lasts and think twice before trading in your pair for the next big thing.