Comfy fashion is big company. No place is this more real than on our feet. With the possibility of an acquisition by US private equity company L Catterton on the horizon, Birkenstock, founding father of comfortable shoes, is set to be valued at EUR4bn (₤ 3.6 bn).
The success of a 247-year-old, German-owned orthopedic sandal-maker is less surprising than it sounds. With lots of people homebound since last spring, celebrations and wedding events cancelled, and a focus on waist-up dressing, inside became the new outdoors– and shoes quickly came to reflect a requirement for convenience over, state, heel height. Demand for stilettos fell 21% globally last year, according to Euromonitor, while look for slippers were up 242%, says Lyst.
Before the pandemic, sportswear was seldom pointed out in high-end “deal circles”. Last month, Dr Martens went public on the London Stock Market. Interest in other, comfort-adjacent brand names such as Uggs and Tevas more than doubled, while Crocs was expected to hit $1.4 bn (EUR1.16 bn) in revenue for 2020.
But if lockdown showed to be the best incubator for comfort wear, it also normalised it. Before long, people desired something comfortable without completely capitulating on style. Birkenstocks showed to be precisely that.
Harry Fisher, a stylist and creator of fashion firm htown, describes this kind of shoe as “supermarket wear”; in another nod to their myriad uses, they became known as “bin shoes”.
” I seem like it’s the go-to for a very casual, resilient, and on-trend shoe,” states Fisher, who owns a set of Birkenstock’s popular closed toe style, the Boston clog. Style arbiters such as Katie Holmes and model Kaia Gerber choose the Arizona sandal, a two-strap style and long a punchline for jokes about British tourists.
This is not the very first time Birkenstocks have actually been thought about on trend. In 1990, Kate Moss was photographed by Corinne Day in a set of Arizonas for The Face publication. 2 years later on, Marc Jacobs put them in his notorious Perry Ellis grunge program. 20 years later on, Arizona-style sandals lined with mink appeared in Phoebe Philo’s 2012 Celine show, and Givenchy produced its own gothic twist on a pair.
Fisher thinks the “rebirth” is an example of style’s propensity to trickle up from young designers to catwalks and ultimately high-end customers. Experts believe it has more to do with their resistance to style Birkenstocks might be appropriated by fashion, however no designer is permitted to change the practical cork footbed, which earned them their loyal following in the very first location.