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Birks vs Dansko

Posted by Aly R. on 7/01/03 at 12:40 (123335)

I've seen lots of postings on the merits of both Birks and Dansko shoes - for those of you who've tried both, do you have a preference? I definitely need cushioning (so it would have to be a softbed Birk if I went that direction) and I don't use orthotics at this time. I usually shop online, so I won't be able to try them on in a store...

Re: Birks vs Dansko

nancy sc on 7/01/03 at 12:59 (123341)


Sorry, I haven't had Birks, but I thought I'd mention the Dansko 'Liv' softbed clog-type sandals that I've been wearing for about three weeks now. I had good luck with the firm Dansko clogs over the winter and am finding that these are even better. I am not sure what type of shoe you're looking for, but I've been increasing the amount of walking I'm doing in these Danskos gradually, and have not had one bit of pain yet from them!

Re: Birks vs Dansko

Aly R. on 7/01/03 at 13:43 (123343)

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for the info - they're cute shoes!

Re: Birks vs Dansko

Dorothy on 7/01/03 at 15:19 (123347)

I think it is VERY difficult to specify a preferance for one over the other. Both have their uses and their moments. I wear both and have worn both for years. I am concerned that you cannot try them on because both of these shoes will work best for you if you can try them on your own feet. Each type and brand has its place in your shoe 'repertoire'; they are quite different from each other and, as you probably know from reading posts on this message board, shoe preferance varies among the posters, but even an individual poster will have a favorite at a certain time of day or level of pain or whatever kind of condition pertains. I have never owned or tried the Birkenstock softbed but I want to do so.
I have always worn the classic style, usually the Arizona. They are never comfortable at first, but become so after time. For me, a properly fitting Dansko feels great right away, but not everyone likes them. They are not what you would call a 'cushioned' shoe in the usual sense, but they are not board-hard in the footbed. They are comfortable enough that they are preferred by many nurses, doctors, and chefs. But then Birkenstocks have their foot-weary fans, too. One other brand that many, many people on this board recommend is the SAS brand and it is the one that I plan to try when I can, as well as the Birkenstock soft footbed.
Not the definitive answer you probably want,but, in my opinion, there is not a definitive answer - it's very personal and individual. I think the best thing is that one can get recommendations on this board for shoes, etc.that others have liked and then to try for oneself, but that ultimately it will be your feet in the shoes and so must be your choosing.

Re: Birks vs Dansko

Aly R. on 7/01/03 at 16:11 (123357)

Hi Dorothy,

Thanks for your detailed post. I know that no one can tell me definitively which shoe is better - and I'm quite prepared to have to return them! I'd like to try the Dansko Liv's and the Birk Arizona softbed but have yet to locate a seller nearby, hence my desire to buy them online. I've never seen SAS shoes anywhere, though I am keeping my eye out for them. Sigh. I never thought I'd ever spend so much time deciding what SHOES to wear!

Re: Birks vs Dansko

Dorothy on 7/01/03 at 17:07 (123363)

I understand - it is really maddening! That is probably why, at least in part, when 'foot people' find a brand/style/size that works for them, then they stick with it. The alternative is what you are describing - spending so much time deciding. I HATE to have to return things and it seems like I have had to do that a lot lately with the persnickety feet.

People here who have knowledge about how to get SAS say that they can't be found online. I wonder if someone sells them through mail-order catalog...?? Or I wonder if you have a local shoe store if they would look into ordering them for you to try, if that is even possible...??
It is possible -(I am wondering again) - that you could call one of the SAS stores and ask about ordering by mail with return privileges, of course, as you experiment with size and fit. Have you noticed that several posters have suggested going to a uniform shop for SAS, as a possible source?? Actually, I think everyone on this website should sign some sort of SAS petition asking the SAS people to broaden their sales sites! One would think that the footsmart.com folks would carry SAS - so it's a mystery to me. If you have a podiatrist or someone like that with whom you are working, maybe that person could order some for you to try.
In any case, I hear what you're saying - and sorry I can't give any more concrete help.


Carole C in NOLA on 7/01/03 at 20:45 (123380)

I talked to the owner of my local SAS shoe store, whose father also has owned another SAS shoe store for many years. He told me some things about SAS that I think may be true.

He told me that the owner of the SAS shoe company requires the shoes to be handmade with great care, and he wants SAS shoe stores to be very old fashioned, like the old 'general stores' of a hundred years ago. He puts a lot of pressure on the retailers to decorate in an old fashioned way, even down to not having a modern cash register, and to take a lot of time and care in fitting the shoes well. This emphasis on the old fashioned is not entirely bad, but as you point out, it's taken to the point of creating a problem.

He says the the owner of SAS has no interest in expanding to have more shoestores carry SAS shoes. He won't sell SAS shoes to just any shoestore that orders them. He would rather have a smaller company with a very high quality product. To the owner of SAS, the internet is terrible, impersonal, and so on.

My retailer told me that SAS retailers have tried and tried to persuade the owner of the SAS shoe company to modernize, but he won't. On the contrary, he is inclined to play hardball and will actually cut off the supply of SAS shoes to any retailer that advertises the shoes online, or which don't fit into his dream of what a SAS store should be.

SAS shoes are sold at SAS shoe stores, and at stores that carry shoes for diabetics or orthopedic shoes. Nurses often wear SAS shoes so I've heard (as you have) that a uniform shop may have them.

To me it is worth driving an hour or two to the nearest SAS shoe store, just as it is worth driving that long to a good Birkenstock store to be properly fitted (even though one can buy Birkenstocks online). Good shoes really seem to help in PF, and these are two brands that have helped a lot of people.

Carole C


Dorothy on 7/02/03 at 01:04 (123398)

Carole ~ That is very interesting information and puts to rest any ideas of some other way of trying SAS for those folks who do not live near an SAS store. It is refreshing in a way when you consider that the SAS owner could probably make more money by expanding the ways of obtaining the shoes. Well, now we know...

Re: Birks vs Dansko

nancy sc on 7/02/03 at 08:25 (123411)


Regarding the Dansko Liv, I wouldn't try to order them without trying on, since the sizes are a little wacky. I wear a 36, but my normal foot size is 6.5 or 7. All other shoes, my European size would be 37. They're cut a bit wide, I think. I have medium to slightly narrow feet, and the 37s kind of swim on me. However, Danskos seem to run true to size from style to style -- all Danskos in 36 that I've tried on have fit.



Carole C in NOLA on 7/02/03 at 08:47 (123417)

Refreshing, but aggravating! Still, the shoes are worth looking for.

The SAS shoes to get for PF are the Time Out (for men), or the Free Time (for women). These are plain tie-up leather shoes available in black, white, and several other colors. You can see what they look like by looking at any other plain tie-up shoes; what makes SAS special is not the styling, but the construction and how they hold your foot. My Free Times are in black nubuck, which looks nice. SAS also makes some less supportive shoes, which probably are not a good purchase for someone with PF. Be honest and tell your SAS salesman that you have PF, so that he can help.

Carole C

Re: More about SAS

Jen L on 7/02/03 at 17:10 (123463)

Make sure to call them if you plan to go on Sundays. The store close to me in central NJ area is closed on Sundays!
I think SAS shoe size (of Free Time) is a bit bigger than some walking shoes. The sales person meausured my feet when I got in. Then he let me try the shoes half size smaller(size 7)than my NikiWalker (size 7.5), and they fit just right. He said Niki shoes are usually smaller than the standard size. But my experience with many kinds of shoes tells me differently. It's not becuase of the big toe box in SAS which I really like, my old shoe insert fits right into it.
Oh the service is so great...he ties the shoe laces for you, but I had to ask to do it myself. My sensetive feet are not used to that tightly tied shoes.
One more thing, they said the price of SAS shoes goes up once every six months! What can we do!


Re: More about SAS

Roberta S on 2/26/06 at 14:37 (194221)

Where is that store in central NJ?