What are Birkenstocks? Everything you need to know about the iconic comfort shoe

There are countless iconic brands today that have left their indelible footprints in the realm of footwear. Some names have emerged quickly, captured the essence of their time, then faded and became unrelevant. While others, emerged throughout fashion history and continued to re-invent new products that will fit the style of the changing era.

One such name that has been gaining a positive reputations for its reliable product quality is Birkenstock.

Loved by stars and commoners alike, Birkenstock has become a household name when it comes to footwear that perfectly combines comfort with fashion. But what exactly are Birkenstocks? What is the story behind their unique design and immense popularity?

If you have already asked yourself these questions, this comprehensive guide will help you get the correct answers. So Let’s dive into the intriguing world of Birkenstocks.

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What Are Birkenstocks?

Birkenstocks are a brand of sandals and shoes notable for their contoured cork footbeds (soles) made with layers of suede and jute, which conform to the shape of their Wearers, feet. The brand was founded in 1774 by Johann Adam Birkenstock in Germany.

The company’s original purpose was to create shoes that support and contour the foot, compared to the flat soles of many shoes during that time. The iconic footbed design we associate with Birkenstock today, however, came to be in the early 20thC and it is this anatomically friendly design that has earned Birkenstock its worldwide reputation.

Design and Unique Features

Once you have finally worn-in your new pair of Birkenstocks and it is moulded to your feet… there’s really no going back.

Due to the natural cork footbed, the bed of the sandal follows the natural contours of your foot which provides great orthotic support

This distinctive design mimics the imprint of your foot in the sand, providing excellent arch support and promoting better posture, reducing foot and back discomfort

Birkenstocks are also the ideal option for most common foot problems such as Bunions.

Bunions for example require a hard-soled shoe, so Birkenstocks are often regarded as the painkiller remedy for these types of foot issues. Birkenstock has a special soft footbed that has been designed to relieve the pain.

The footbeds are comprised of several layers including cork, latex and jute which are all-natural and renewable materials. The cork and latex mix provides flexibility and cushioning while the juste layers aid in moisture absorption and add additional support

Due to these materials, this shoe will move with your foot every step of the way while providing extra cushioning.

The outer layer of the footbed is covered with suede leather that adds to the overall comfort and soft feel

The uppers of Birkenstocks are typically made from leather but vegan options are also available. The soles are made from a cushioning EVA which is lightweight and highly flexible

Birkenstocks are also the ideal shoe that will last a lifetime. The natural cork footbed won’t degrade with age, nor will it chip away due to rough wear

Birkenstocks are long-lasting, reliable and the perfect summer staple.

Models and Variations

Birkenstocks sandals come in a wide range of models and designs suitable for various settings from a casual day out to a beach holiday. Their iconic sandals including the “Arizona”, a two-strap sandal, the “Boston”, a closed-toe slip-on shoe and the “Gizeh”, a thong sandal, are the most popular and are incredibly adaptive, pairing well with a wide range of outfits from jeans, shorts, to summer dresses.

Additionally, each model is available in a variety of colors and finishes including natural leather, nubuck, patent and vegan materials to meet all tastes and preferences.

The Story of Birkenstock

The Birkenstock brand traces its roots to Johann Adam Birkenstock, registered in 1774 as a “Vassal and shoemaker” in local church archives in the small Hessian Village of Langen-Bergheim

The Evolution of Birkenstock: From Health To High Fashion

In the year 1896, Johann’s great-great-grandson Konrad Birkenstock created the Fussbett (footbed) and in 1925, Birkenstocks were sold all over Europe.

In 1966, Margot Fraser first brought Birkenstock to America. In the US, they were sold in health stores, thus becoming associated with hippies in the 1970’s. The shift from health to high fashion exalted in the 1990s when Birkenstocks became popular among the grunge-loving youth and later, the normcore enthusiasts in the early 2000s. Their status as a fashion item was finally solidified when they made their debut on high-fashion runways, courtesy of collaborations with renowned designers such as Celine and Valentino

Today, Birkenstocks can be spotted on a variety of individuals – from students and travellers seeking comfort to celebrities and fashion influencers making a style statement

Birkenstocks Today: Aunisex Footwear Staple

Today, Birkenstocks are not just a brand, they are a symbol of simple design, comfort and sustainability. The brand has expanded to include various styles, colors and materials including vegan options.

The heart of all Birkenstock shoe models, including the famed Arizona, Gizeh and Boston, lies in their unique footbed designed to mirror the shape of a healthy foot, these styles remain the most popular, embodying the brand’s timeless appeal.

Birkenstocks’s ability to transcend age, gender and culture sets them apart. These adaptable shoes can be worn with various outfits and in different settings from a casual day out to a beach holiday, making them a versatile addition to any wardrobe.

Moreover, durability is a key strength of Birkenstock. Their shoes are a long-term investment. They withstand wear and tear remarkably. Besides, Birkenstocks’s commitment to sustainability adds to its appeal

The brand uses renewable resources, and water-soluble adhesives in manufacturing. They offer vegan versions of most models, catering to those avoiding animal products

What are Birkenstocks good for

Birkenstocks, known for their comfortable, functional designs, serve a variety of purposes and offer several benefits:

  • #1- Orthopedic Support:

Birkenstocks’s fame largely emanates from its unrivaled comfort. Their shoes are founded on the principle of orthopedic design, aimed at promoting foot health. With their signature cork-latex footbeds, these shoes adapt to the shape of your foot over time. This provides excellent arch support, promoting a natural walking motion and correct foot alignment, which can help alleviate pain in the feet, knees and back.

  • #2- Durability:

Crafted from high-quality leather or synthetic materials, Birkenstocks are designed to last for many years, withstanding wear and tear. Additionally, the soles can be resoled and the footbeds replaced, increasing the lifespan of the shoe

This durability means that although, the Birkenstocks may be more expensive upfront, they often provide good value for money over time.

  • #3- Versatility:

Birkenstock’s hallmark is arguably its versatility. From the classic two-strap Arizona to the closed-toe Boston clog, Birkenstocks can be paired with a wide range of outfits from jeans, shorts, to summer dresses. Moreover, they can be worn in various occasions from a casual day out to a beach holiday and they transition well from day to night.

  • #4- Ease of Use:

Many Birkenstock models are designed as slip-on shoes, which makes them easy to put on and take off. They are a practical choice for people who prefer hassle-free footwear.

  • #5- Foot Health:

Birkenstock sandals have a spacious toe box that allows the toes to move naturally and comfortably. This prevents crowding and promote overall foot health. The deep heel cup also provides extra cushioning and shock absorption, reducing stress on the feet.

  • #6- Sustainability:

Birkenstock is committed to eco-friendly practices. The cork in their footbeds is a renewable resource and the brand uses sustainably sourced and processed materials wherever possible.

  • #7- Long-standing Use:

From casual beach walks to professional settings where prolonged standing is required, Birkenstocks are a popular choice. They are also a good option for travel as they are easy to wear and are comfortable for long periods of walking

What Are The Best Birkenstocks
What Are The Best Birkenstocks

What Are The Best Birkenstocks?

When it comes to determine the “best” Birkenstocks you should consider several factors; including your personal needs, style preference and the intended use. These factors will not only help you make the best choice for your needs but also ensure you get the most value for your investment.

To make things much easier, here are some of the best-known Birkenstock models that have gained popularity due to their comfort, style and versatility.

  • 1- Birkenstock Arizona:

This is the most popular model. Featuring two adjustable straps. and a supportive footbed, the Arizona offers excellent comfort and timeless style. It comes in a variety of materials and colors from natural leather to vegan-friendly Birko-Flor.

  • 2- Birkenstock Mayari:

The Mayari model comes with a toe loop and crisscross straps for a stylish and more secure fit. This elegant, sleek design can be paired well with any outfit, making it a versatile Summer staple

  • 3- Birkenstock Gizeh:

It’s a thong-style sandal It comes with a single strap and a toe piece. The adjustable strap provides more secure fitting This model offers a more open feel while still providing the arch support and comfort Birkenstock is known for.

  • 4- Birkenstock Boston:

Unlike most Birkenstock styles, the Boston is a slip-on clog with a completely enclosed toe. It’s a great choice for cooler weather or those who want more foot coverage. This model is also a go-to option among professionals who spend too much time on their feet such as healthcare workers and chefs.

  • 5- Birkenstock Madrid:

The Madrid is the oldest Birkenstock model and features a simple one-strap design. The simplicity of the design allows for a variety of looks and its minimalist aesthetic is a favorite among those who prefer a sleek, unfussy look.

  • 6- Birkenstock Florida:

The Florida comes with three thin, adjustable straps for a secure fit and a more feminine look.

  • 7- Birkenstock Yara:

The Yara stands out with its unique strappy design that includes a toe loop and an ankle strap. This style offers plenty of support and is a great option for those who want something a bit different.

Where Can Birkenstocks Be Purchased?

You can purchase Birkenstocks from online marketplaces or physical stores. Here are a few places where you can find them:

  • #1- Birkenstock’s Official Website: The brand’s official website is www.birkenstock.com. It’s the place where you can find the latest models and collections while being able to select from a wide variety of styles, sizes and colors.
  • #2- Department Stores: If you prefer trying on your shoes before purchasing. it’s better to visit some department stores like Nordstrom, Macy’s and Dillard’s stock Birkenstocks.
  • #3- Specialty Shoe Stores: You can also find Birkenstocks in stores that specialize in comfortable, high-quality footwear. as they often carry Birkenstock’s models. Some of these stores include Foot Locker and The Walking Company.
  • #4- Outdoor and Sporting Goods stores: Birkenstocks are popular with outdoor enthusiasts for their comfort and durability. As a result, you can find them at stores like REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
  • #5- Online Marketplaces: Websites such as Amazon, Walmart, Zappos and e-Bay also sell Birkenstocks and offer the widest selection of styles, colors and sizes, but be cautious when shopping on these platforms, as counterfeit. Birkenstocks can sometimes be mixed in with genuine ones. It’s recommended to always check the seller’s ratings and reviews before purchasing.
  • #6- Boutiques and Fashion Retailers: Some boutiques and fashion-focused retailers like ASOS and Urban Outfitters also stock, Birkenstocks as part of their footwear collection.

Birkenstocks Vs Other Brands

When you dive into the world of footwear, you’ll encounter a diverse array of options available each with unique styles, comfort levels and health benefits, picking the best pair from the best brand can be quite challenging. The footwear brand Birkenstock, famous for its comfortable and functional sandals, has been embracing the world of fashion for more than two centuries and has been a significant player in the footwear industry too

It’s crucial, then, to understand how Birkenstocks differ from other brands to appreciate their unique attributes better. Let’s delve into a comparative analysis:

#1- Birkenstocks Vs Teva

Teva, much like Birkenstock, has been around for a long time and has gained immense popularity among its fans. Teva sandals are designed for outdoor use, particularly for water and hiking activities. On the other hand, Birkenstocks are generally more fashion-forward and are better suited for casual use due to their design and materials

#2- Birkenstocks Vs Crocs

Crocs are designed for outdoor activities like gardening, boating and beach visits

They are typically made from a patented material called Croslite. While Crocs, are easy to clean and offer cushioning, they do not provide the same level of anatomical support as Birkenstocks.

The Custom fit that comes from Birkenstocks’ cork footbeds is unmatched in terms of foot support and alignement.

#3- Birkenstocks Vs Dr.Martens

Dr.Martens or Docs are best known for their sturdy boots.

Made with durable materials and featuring a chunky, air-cushioned sole, Docs are popular for their edgy aesthetic and long-lasting build

While both Docs and Birkenstocks prioritize comfort and durability; Birkenstocks are more casual and versatile while Docs lean towards a grungier, punk aesthetic.

#4- Birkenstocks Vs Chaco

Chaco sandals comes with adjustable strap system which wraps around the foot and through the midsole, allowing for a more customized fit which can be beneficial for people with unusual foot shapes or sizes

They also feature a LUVSEAT™ PU footbed for all-day comfort and support and a non-marking ChacoGrip™ rubber outsole for excellent traction, making them a better go-to option for outdoor activities like hiking or river crossing when compared to Birkenstocks;

Birkenstocks offer better foot alignment and arch support due to their cork footbed that molds to the wearer’s foot over time. They are also more fashion-forward making them a great choice for casual wear.

#5- Birkenstocks Vs Mephisto

Mephisto is a French footwear brand known for crafting high-quality, comfortable shoes Similar to Birkenstock, Mephistos are comfortable and focus on foot support.

Mephisto shoes feature Soft-Air Technology, which provides effective shock absorption, reducing stress on joints and promoting a healtheir walking experience. They also come with an anatomically shaped footbed and a premium leather upper

However, when compared to Birkenstocks, We can notice the difference in style.

Mephisto shoes generally have a more formal and traditional appearance, suitable for a business-casual setting while Birkenstocks are more casual and have a more contemporary look

In terms of comfort, Mephisto’s Soft-Air technology effectively absorbs sock, which can be beneficial for those who walk or stand a lot. However, Birkenstock’s cork-latex footbed offers excellent arch support and foot alignment, making them a great choice for people with foot issues.


So what are Birkenstocks? They are more than just a brand. They are a symbol of simple design, comfort, durability and sustainability.

Birkenstock represents a brand that is committed to bringing superior comfort and support to the wearer without sacrificing style or sustainability. The Brand has been embracing the world of fashion for more than two centuries and As it continues to grow and innovate, it remains the best.

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Hey, I'm Sophia – a fashion writer and trend enthusiast powering Trendy Legs. I blend my love for style with creativity to handpick the coolest legwear and footwear for everyone. Let's explore fashion together and stay ahead of the curve!

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