German Birkenstocks have been around for years and for good reason. Their very supportive and comfortable footbeds are a hit with a certain type of foot: high volume, wide all over, with high arches and insteps. Visually though, Birkenstocks are quite the acquired taste. Their overtly casual, chunky, and somewhat masculine appearance make them the antithesis of a traditionally pretty and refined sandal. As a result, Birkies have sometimes been described as unstylish, dowdy and unattractive shoes in the past.
Of course, fashion is fickle, and before we know it, a so-called unattractive aesthetic has its fashion moment and becomes the next “it” look. This is exactly what happened with Birkenstocks’ most recognizable and somewhat iconic style, the “Arizona”, about four years ago. I enjoy it when trends do this to items and looks that have been given a bad rap in the past because it creates a more diverse and inclusive world of fashion and style.
Since fashion fads no longer exist and almost anything goes these days — items like the Arizona Birkenstock are what I call a Trendy Modern Classic. They are a somewhat timeless and reliable classic that you can turn to season after season. They are no longer the trendiest shoe in fashion, but will probably be in style for some time to come.
I grew up with men, women and children in my Dutch family all wearing Birkenstocks (or slip-on sandals that look very much like the Arizona.) My Dad wore his with long socks and shorts in the ‘70s, and continues to wear a German Birkie lookalike as a house shoe at age 86. I didn’t think of them as an unattractive shoe back then, but rather as a practical Euro sandal that is comfy and good for your feet.
When the Arizona Birkie had its fashion moment, I grew to like them even more because they came in white, metallic and fun colours and patterns that make them look prettier. They are not the sandal for me because my low-volume feet are a bad match for the Birkenstock fit. I also prefer a daintier and dressier shoe for my style, unless it’s a sneaker. But I enjoy seeing an Arizona Birkenstock on a well-matched foot shape with a casual outfit, and preferably without socks. I enjoy that the sandal is unisex and can be worn at any age. A pedicured foot makes a Birkie look even better.
Over to you. Do you like, or have grown to like the look of the Arizona Birkenstock? Does it suit your style and shape of foot? And if it’s not your look, can you appreciate it on others?