Since 1774, Birkenstock has been synonymous with orthopaedic design and unparalleled foot support. The German footwear brand is renowned for its exceptional style, comfort, and quality. Birkenstock shoes, boots, and sandals combine high-quality materials with foot health benefits through eco-friendly cork, jute and natural latex footbeds. With its enduring popularity and global recognition, Birkenstock is a family business that remains one of the most trusted names in footwear.
In the 19th century, Birkenstock developed its contoured footbed as a key element of its design philosophy. It is anatomically shaped and provides arch support, a deep heel cup, and a roomy toe box. By combining cork and latex, the footbed provides customized comfort and proper weight distribution over time as it adapts to the wearer's feet.
The Birkenstock family story begins with their mention in 1774 when two brothers handcrafted shoes in the German countryside. Weather conditions during those times were harsh, requiring rugged clothing and footwear. The average person owned one pair of shoes, repaired over time by a local cobbler.
The industrial revolution started a series of changes in European society including the development of a middle class with purchasing power. The steam engines allowed shoe manufacturers to produce significantly increasing quantities as they were no longer required to manufacture each piece by hand, thus meeting the growing demand.
The company introduced the 'Birkenstock System' in the 1920s, a combination of handcrafted shoes constructed with orthopaedic lasts and flexible footbeds. The shoe gained popularity in the German, Austrian and Swiss markets. In the 1930s, Birkenstock patented the first flexible arch support, further improving the supportive features of its contoured footbeds.
Birkenstock introduced its first sandal featuring its signature footbed in 1947, combining orthopaedic benefits and fashionable design. Birkenstocks gained popularity in the 1950s beyond their medical origins, appealing to those seeking foot health.
1960s - 1980s
As Birkenstock expanded its sandal collection in the 1960s, the Arizona sandal became an international favourite. It helped the company become an internationally recognized footwear choice. In 1973, Birkenstock introduced its Gizeh thong sandal, which added a fashionable twist to its contoured footbed design. A closed-toe footbed was introduced in 1978 with the Boston clog.
1980s - 1990s
In the 1980s, the company opened its doors to the American market. Since Birkenstock gained popularity within the alternative and counterculture fashion movements in the 1990s, it started offering vegan, cruelty-free leather options.
Birkenstock expanded its product line even further in the 2000s. In 2003, the brand ventured into closed-toe shoes and boots, extending its expertise in foot health and comfort. In 2019, Birkenstock celebrated its 245th anniversary as an innovative footwear brand with a lasting legacy.
NASA astronauts wore Birkenstock sandals on space missions. The sandals' contoured footbeds offer support and comfort even in zero-gravity environment. Their ability to conform to the wearer's feet and evenly distribute weight makes them especially suitable for astronauts trying to cope with space travel's hardships and foot swelling.
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