It only took 242 years, but Birkenstock has made its Paris Fashion Week debut. Well, sort of. Cast your mind back to the halcyon days of 2012 and you’ll recall that Céline’s fashion show featured fur-lined Birkenstock sandals. The same season, Giambattista Valli sent models down the runway with metallic studded versions of Birkenstock’s classic two-strap Arizona sandal.
Long before ‘normcore’, Kate Moss was wearing Birkenstocks in the Face magazine in 1990 and setting the template for the grunge aesthetic. This sturdy, sensible, orthopaedic German footwear brand has been co-opted by more fashion tribes than the word “authentic”.
But until this season, Birkenstock has never held its own runway show. The hugely successful company currently produces 1,800 styles of footwear and, in the words of Vogue, “it doesn’t need the fashion world to thrive”.
So why throw a fashion show now? Birkenstock’s CEO Olivier Reichert commented: “We are not going into the arena with the big fashion brands. We are just trying to open a space for the people to relax and have a drink. We want to join the family, let them check our new collection. But we are not on the way to push the fashion more – we are okay where we are.”
Even if the heritage shoemakers don’t want to push the fashion more, celebrities such as Miranda Kerr and the Olsen twins make styling a pair of Birkenstocks look effortless and – dare we say it – elegant. There’s something about the utter lack of sex appeal in these cork-soled sandals that allow women to be more experimental in the way they dress.
For instance, we’re huge fans of this airport look by Alex Stedman of The Frugality. Paired with heels, this waist-cinching jumpsuit would have been a little too ‘evening’ for getting on a plane, but these black Birkenstock Arizonas instantly ground this outfit.
Click through for PretAirporter’s picks of the Birkenstock styles in airport stores now