Birkenstock: German footwear company founded over 200 years ago

It was founded in 1774 in a village in Germany by Johann Adam Birkenstock. At the end of the century, it became a real industry, and starting in 1902, with the development of flexible arch support, production became of national relevance. However, the birth of the brand, the sandal that became famous worldwide, entering all the national markets, was in 1964, when Karl Birkenstock applied the flexible arch invented by his father.


The model of sandal still on the market came out equipped with incredible resistance to allow the endless walks of German walkers and incredible comfort. The first model was basic, represented by the large anatomical orthotic with two parallel leather bands fastened to a strap. From the 60s to 2000, Birkenstock developed about 300 variants in style and colour. Rockford and Calgary were born in 2000, and the new line of hiking shoes in 2002.

Birkenstock birthday celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Boston model, the classic suede clog. In October, Margot Fraser, who had founded Birkenstock Footprint Sandals Inc. thirty years before moving from Germany to the United States, announced that she sold the last 60 per cent of the company to employees. Now, the Californian subsidiary of the German parent company is wholly owned by the workers.

The 30th anniversary of the Arizona two-strap sandal is celebrated. For the occasion, 19 characters, including actors, sportsmen, and journalists of the calibre of Robin Williams and Chris Isaak, drew their personal Arizona model. The proceeds went to charity in March 2003. German supermodel Klum linked her name to the German house, launching an exclusive line of orthopaedic sandals.

Beyond the possible acceleration of sales in 2020, at the basis of the vertiginous sales value, there was COVID-19, which caused there to be no galas, and comfort became a luxury. On the other hand, there was potential seen in the three funds in the brand founded in 1774, which has remained true to itself since then.

The collaborations

The collaborations were chosen by influencers, actresses (including Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow), and designers. In fact, the collaborations of the historic German footwear house were many. From Phoebe Philo, who, as artistic director of Celine, proposed them for the SS 13 in the variant with the fur orthotic, to Pier Paolo Piccioli, who, in the FW 19-20 collection, shaped them, remaining faithful to the Maison’s DNA.

This is how the Birkenstocks in Valentino red and total black with the Valentino Vltn logo were born. Moreover, Rick Owens and Random Identities proposed them in animal print, and Proenza Schouler chose to replace the classic buckles with hook and loop fasteners.

Birkenstock X ValentineBirkenstock X Valentine

Lvmh put the spotlight on Birkenstocks

Lvmh put the spotlight on Birkenstocks. L Catterton, the private equity fund created in 2016 by the partnership between the French giant and its founder Bernard Arnault, ran in pole position for the German sandals, icons of comfort rather than luxury. The acquisition was completed in 2021 at a price of 4.5 billion euros, including debt.

The goal was to conquer the Asian market and implement the online shopping experience, thanks to the consolidated experience of the Arnault family in the field. Two family businesses now share a common goal: the rise of Birkenstock sandals in the global luxury market.

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