Trace The Evolution Of The Birkenstock Brand

Its history is filled with interesting tidbits.

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Everyone — and I mean everyone — has, or had, a pair of Birkenstock shoes. The iconic brand has been part of American style culture since the ‘60s and this will never change. Ahead, look back on the evolution of the Birkenstock for fun tidbits about the label you didn’t know.

Birkenstock x Manolo Blahnik


Johann Adam Birkenstock (known as a “subject and cobbler”) founded Birkenstock in 1774 as a company that would create shoes that support and contour the foot. (Shoes, back in the day, were mainly flat despite people having a natural arch in their foot.)Birkenstock


Johann’s grandson, Konrad Birkenstock, developed a concept that changed the shape of footwear. He had brainstormed that if the shape of the shoes reflected one’s feet, the shoe would be more comfortable. Konrad started manufacturing and selling flexible footbed insoles.Birkenstock

1902 to 1925

According to the Birkenstock website, in 1902, Konrad develops the first contoured arch support, which were to be inserted in the factory-made shoes that became widely distributed in Germany. In 1925, the “blue footbed” is among the products manufactured by the company.Birkenstock

1932 to 1948

Konrad’s son, Carl Birkenstock, launches podiatry and specialist footwear courses in 1932, which led to the “Carl Birkenstock system.” A book of the same name is published in the ‘40s, wherein they illustrate his theories about the “natural gait” and healthy footwear.Birkenstock


Carl’s son, Karl, takes his grandfather’s contoured arch support concept one step further to create the Madrid model, the first fitness sandal with a deep and flexible footbed. (Fast forward to 2021 and fictional fashionista Carrie Bradshaw is spotted in the style.)James Devaney/GC Images


German-American dressmaker and designer Margot Fraser was on vacation in Germany when she tried on a pair of Birkenstocks to soothe her aching feet. (Spoiler alert: It worked.) She later asked Karl for distribution rights, thus bringing Birkenstock to the U.S.Kim Komenich/Getty Images


The iconic Arizona style was created and the Birkenstock brand quickly rose to popularity during the ‘70s.@birkenstock


This year saw the creation of the Boston clog, which has become a beloved style amongst fashion girls and celebrities. Kendall Jenner, Dakota Johnson, and Kaia Gerber all own a pair.BAMBAM / BACKGRID

‘80s to ‘90s

Birkenstock becomes a household name in the U.S. and the company celebrated its 30th anniversary in 1996. Fraser and Birkenstock USA also receive several prestigious awards, like being inducted into the Footwear News Hall of Fame.Kim Komenich/Getty Images

2000s to 2014

As the normcore fashion movement spread like wildfire, one shoe in particular fit neatly into this image: Birkenstocks. The “ugly” shoe was embraced everywhere, from concerts to even New York Fashion Week by fashionable tastemakers.Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images

2015 to 2021

As Birkenstock cemented itself as an icon in the footwear industry, other fashion labels were eager to partner with Birkenstock. Rick Owens sealed that deal first in 2018 followed by other notable collabs with Valentino (2019) and Proenza Schouler (2020).Birkenstock

2022 & Beyond

Birkenstock had several coveted collaborations this year. One with Manolo Blahnik (two words: sparkly designs!) and the other with Dior. For the latter, the two labels teamed up to reveal fresh iterations on the Birkenstock Tokio Mules and Milano Sandals.Dior

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