Fashion | The Birkenstock Debate


Your father wears them with socks - not in that cute way we’re all wearing sparkly socks paired with summer sandals though – and your mother has a pair in three or more colours, making sure of a pair to match every outfit, because “They’re light and easy for travel. Plus aren’t they just the most comfortable thing for walking around all day in?” 

Several pairs of Birkenstocks have lined our family shoe rack since I was a small child. They may have sat between every shoe from a flowery pair of Kickers to an impulse Louboutin purchase, all of which have been loved temporally and later discarded on eBay or a charity bin bag, but Birkenstocks have been the constant.  

A few months ago, after twenty two years of Birkenstock defiance, I finally added my own pair to the rack; just the one strap variety in matt black – what I believed at the time to be the least offensive pair of Birkenstocks I could find. The first time I braved the sandals in public was here in New York where Sophie called them my “old man English tourist shoes”. They’ve since only seen the outside of the apartment during laundry runs. 

However, the flaws of the Birkenstock have been forgiven by the fashion industry. It may be a revamped Extreme Makeover version of its former glory that we’re seeing but there’s no doubt that the Birkenstock is another 90’s trend that is back with a vengeance, and has been for some time now. They’ve graced the catwalks of Celine and Miu Miu, lined in mink fur, embellished with studs and metallic hues worthy of magpie attraction. Vogue’s even featured a classic white pair, don’t you know? The first time we all laid eyes on that Celine 'Furkenstock', did anyone really believe it would catch on? 

And for all the men amongst my readers, and I know there’s a fair few of you sly fashion fends out there, don’t worry, you aren’t being left out of the Jesus shoe trend either. Menswear designer Agi & Sam picked the German sandal for their show earlier this year and J Crew even started carrying two exclusive pairs especially for you boys! 

Who knows where it ends. Does a Birkenstock trend this year lend itself to a Croc trend the next? Can you imagine! There’s little I wouldn’t give to experience the hilarity of a pair Crocs covered in lavish fur appear on the catwalk next season. 

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