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Good news for Birkenstock fans - they're IN

Posted by Julie on 12/21/03 at 08:33 (140466)

Well, here in the UK, anyway. This is from today's Observer Magazine:

It's headed 'Bestseller: Shoe: Birkenstock Madrid, ?26.95

I saw the queues for myself: fashionably dressed 25 to 40-year-old women in the summer sun outside Birkenstock's Covent Garden flagshop. They were queueing - fretfully - for Madrid sandals. White ones, ideally. That was the bestselling colour, followed by baby pink, khaki, black and red.

Birkenstocks have been around for years: pedally healthy German footwear derided by everyone except lentil fans and podiatrists. The Madrid is a simple sandal, with an EVA sole, a cork and latex footbed and a single strap made of Birko-Flor - Birkenstock's own synthetic material, developed 20 years ago. 'The Madrid was designed as an exercise sandal', says creative manager Mark Fuhrmann. 'You need to do a lot of gripping with the toes.' So how did this simple exercise sandal become show of the year? 'Celebrity', says Mark. 'Once people like Kate Moss started wearing them, there was a huge following. Though only here. Elsewhere, says Mark's boxx, Robert Lusk, Birkenstocks are still the healthy rather than the fashionable option. Lusk has held the UK licence since the 1970s. 'This year's been fabulous', he says. 'People used to come in our shop and laugh.' Now they fret. And he can laugh.

We knew it all along, didn't we?

For those, like me, who weren't familiar with the Madrid, there's a picture of it next to the article. It's basically the Arizona footbed and shape: the only difference is the Birko-Flor strap. I was glad the interviewee mentioned the exercise potential of Birks - I've always been convinced that the main reason, or at least one of the reasons, they're so helpful for PF is the fact that they make the muscles of your feet work (when you grip with your toes).

Re: Good news for Birkenstock fans - they're IN

Carole C in NOLA on 12/21/03 at 10:54 (140474)

I guess that just goes to show you that people have different tastes! To me the Madrid looks dopey and cheap compared with the Arizona or other Birkenstocks. I think my Granadas look so much better than Madrids.

My toes don't seem to want to do much gripping; I don't know why, though I suspect maybe it's remnants of neurological problems from MS. So, since I'm not gripping maybe I'm missing out on the main reason Birkenstocks are helpful. Still, I like the way they position my heel, and the arch support.

My feet feel wonderful in the orthotic footbed; protected, and positioned in a way that doesn't strain my PF. When my feet hurt, they help the hurting stop. They are my favorite shoe if I'm not walking a long distance (when I prefer a more cushioned shoe like my New Balance 991's). This is beginning to sound like an 'Ode to Birkenstocks' so I'll quit now! lol

Carole C

Re: Good news for Birkenstock fans - they're IN

nancy s. on 12/21/03 at 10:55 (140475)

ah ha! the people who know true high fashion finally found me and are spreading the word. i've been waiting for decades.

seriously, so-called supermodels are wearing birks? will wonders never cease?

it's especially noteworthy that the article actually mentions health benefits and shoes in the same breath. can we be witnessing the birth of an era?

thanks for this, julie!


Re: Good news for Birkenstock fans - they're IN

Kathy G on 12/22/03 at 09:05 (140538)

We all knew you were a trend setter, Nancy! :D

Kate Moss doesn't look like her legs would be strong enough to carry a pair of Birks! I'm not being catty. The poor girl looks emaciated. But if she can introduce a generation to sensible shoes, more power to her!

Here in NH, of course, nearly every person under the age of twenty-five has at least one pair of Birks, and there are enough people who wear them year round that it doesn't really cause a stir. Athough, most of those people are kind of crunchy. Do the rest of you use that term to describe hippie, granola types?

Thanks for sharing the article with us, Julie!

Re: Good news for Birkenstock fans - they're IN

Suzanne D. on 12/22/03 at 20:35 (140616)

I went shopping with my younger daughter today, and we were in a store that sells trendy clothes for teens. They had what looked to me like copies of Birkenstock Bostons in all kinds of colors and plaids. My daughter said, 'Look, Mama! They're like YOUR shoes!'

Maybe this is a growing trend!
Suzanne :)