Birkenstock’s Best Sandal, Stüssy’s Clog Shoe Collaborations at BEAMS
Who doesn’t love a Birkenstock? Surprisingly enough, some people aren’t actually fans, I found out recently – it turns out that people outside of coastal US metropolises retain generational predispositions – but who cares?! Birkenstock forever.
Even if you’ve had enough of the beautiful humility of Birkenstock’s online shoes, you’ve got the German sandal giant’s huge selection of killer collaborative designs to browse through – until they sell out fast, that is- to say.
It’s also not very easy to get a Birkenstock collaboration. The company has a history of turning down collaborators – CEO Oliver Reichert has described a proposed collaboration with Supreme as “prostitution” – and, given the seemingly simple shape of Birkenstock’s Arizona sandal, a number companies have adopted the design.
Aside from a Birkenstock fashion show in 2017, the company has made it clear that it cares little for the whims of fashion. I mean, it would rather team up with a hotel than Vetements!
If you want a Birkenstock collab, you need to bring a solid idea to the table — or else you can take an orthopedic hike.
So, artists looking to create something that colors far beyond the limits of what Birkenstock allows for their shoes, whether DIY studs or silver hardware, personalize their humble Birkenstocks. The Boston clog, with its wide toe cap, is the typical starting point.
But these are not collaborations and, if we were talking about customs, we would be here all day.
Instead, let’s review some of the best Birkenstock collabs of recent years. Note that this is not an exhaustive list – we are talking about the cream of the crop here – and there is no particular order. Just a plethora of stylish sandals.
Jil Sander Arizona, Milan and Berlin
Jil Sander+, the low-key “essentials” line from Jil Sander of Luke & Lucie Meier, offered three killer slip-ons as part of Birkenstock’s premium 1774 imprint.
The two-strap Arizona, the three-strap Milano and the Berlin heeled mule have all been kicked up a notch with opulent leathers and suedes in neutral tones on very sturdy soles, giving the stylish shoes a bit of weight. well deserved visual.
BEAMS Spring/Summer 2020 Arizona
Japanese retailer BEAMS is basically always correct with its understated Birkenstock collaborations, but its Spring/Summer 2020 Arizona sandals are by far the best of the bunch, resplendent in plush, desaturated suede.
Dingyun Zhang “Cosy” Arizona
As part of the Central Saint Martins team at Birkenstock 1774, the shoe line invited four CSM graduates to rework its sandals, and YEEZY alum Dingyun Zhang came up with by far the best design.
Zhang’s “Cosy” Arizona sandals are the Arizona we all know and love, except with extra heavy-duty leather straps. Don’t break what isn’t broken, just inflate it.
Manolo Blahnik Arizona, Boston and Rodra
“I don’t believe in trends and I’ve never followed them,” Manolo Blahnik told Highsnobiety when releasing his second Birkenstock 1774 collaboration in the summer of 2022. “Birkenstock is the same and I have a lot of respect for it.”
So, Blahnik’s Birkenstock collab is a bit new and a lot older. Why reinvent the wheel when the wheel is basically perfect as it is? So he revisited the Boston and Arizona with translucent PVC and polka dot pony hair.
He also designed the Rodra, a new silhouette, but it’s nothing Birk heads haven’t seen before and that’s how Blahnik, himself a longtime Birkenstock wearer, likes it. .
Personally, I’m a fan of Blahnik’s first Birkenstock collab, a lesson in quality collab. Blahnik’s penchant for flash and plushness showed in gem-studded straps and opulent jewel-toned velvet.
When legendary Parisian Colette closed her doors in 2017, she didn’t go quietly into that good night. Instead, creative director Sarah Andelman launched a barrage of collaborations with longtime friends and peers, including a few sets of Birkenstocks.
This Arizona, rendered in black leather with laser-printed dots in colette’s signature blue hue and matching buckles, is part of the second round and perfectly embodies colette’s whimsy and Birkenstock’s versatility.
Toogood Forager, Mudlark and Beachcomber
As British brand Toogood continues to move towards an accessible mainstream brand, leaving behind its brief history as a purveyor of quality, handcrafted clothing, founding sisters Erica and Faye Toogood continue their collaborations that help their brand achieve a wider audience.
This Birkenstock 1774 collab is by far the best Toogood collab to date – sorry, PORTER! — and included a Birkenstock bed (!), clothing, and three bespoke sandals that recontextualized the Arizona silhouette with felt, canvas, and nappa leather.
KITH Arizona and Boston
Everything KITH touches turns to gold; in a way, that includes Birkenstocks. Just when you think Birkenstock sandals couldn’t get any better, KITH ups the ante with an absurdly slick pattern.
It’s all too easy to choose virtually any of KITH’s killer Birks – KITH remixes a pair practically every season now, even when it’s not hot – but I’m going with the Spring/Summer 2019 collab, which graces the Boston and Arizona with stunning tile-inspired uppers.
Rick Owens Arizona, Boston, Madrid, Rotterdam, Rotterhiker boot
Rick Owens has teamed up with footwear brands as big as adidas and as small as Hood Rubber Company, making his collaboration with Birkenstock more of a fatality than a shocking turn of events.
Rather, it was what Owens did with Birkenstock that made jaws drop.
Over the course of three years, Owens released Arizona, Boston and Madrid sandals made with long, floor-scratching straps, nubby felt, shiny leather and exaggerated cow hair, daring viewers to compare his Birkenstocks to the shoes worn by the hippies in the ’60s.
He even transformed the sporty Rotterdam sandal into the mighty Rotterhiker boot and released a fetish zine of slicked-back toes clad in suede sandals. Birks has gone wild.
Proenza Schouler Arizona and Milan
You’ll notice that most of the collaborations on this list come from Birkenstock 1774, the high-end Birkenstock designed as an outlet for the shoe brand’s high-end products. He does more than collaborations, remember, offering a whole selection of limited-edition Birkenstocks, but we’re focusing on his partnerships here.
Like the other fashion companies on this list, womenswear brand Proenza Schouler flipped the script with their Birkenstocks, creating something quite distinct. However, her patent leather sandals with contrast stitching are some of the most wearable luxury Birks shoes ever made, the perfect blend of industrial and feminine.
Dior Milano and Tokyo
This really wouldn’t be a list of great Birkenstocks without Dior’s exquisite sandals. Obvious answer, Dior’s Fall/Winter 2022 collaboration produced some of the best – and most expensive – Birkenstocks ever made.
Cousin to the impeccable Tokio Super Grip, Dior’s Tokio mule is the perfect canvas for collaborative expression, offering ample room for embroidered flowers, felted wool, calfskin and Matthew M. Williams-designed buckles .
Not that the Milano were any worse, mind you, just that it was particularly heartwarming to see Birkenstock’s underrated Tokio getting some love.
Although he’s based in California, Stüssy doesn’t always rely on his surfer roots. Yes, the iconography of the beach is a trope of the Stüssy campaigns, but that sense of easy donning isn’t always a direct inspiration.
That’s not the case for the two sets of Birkenstock Boston collabs that Stüssy has designed over the past few years, dropping corduroy and classic suede sandals, the latter embossed with oversized branding.
This wasn’t the first time Stüssy and Birkenstock had reunited, contrary to what was commonly reported online…
Birkenstock Tatami x sacai, TakahiroMiyashita TheSoloist., N.HOOLYWOOD, Kolor Beacon & White Mountaineering
Here is a deep cut to complete the list.
Alex Birkenstock, heir to the family business, launched Birkenstock Tatami in 1990 as a Japanese-only premium sub-brand of the Birkenstock main line. The Tatami sandals boasted an extra-cushioned four-layer footbed with more cork than conventional Birkenstocks, meant to recreate the feeling of walking barefoot on the tatami floor of traditional Japanese homes, although the line was for the most of them disappeared today.
Birkenstock Tatami experimented with shape and feel to better fit the feet of its Japanese clientele, who have been one of Birkenstock’s most loyal consumers since the early days.
In return, Birkenstock Tatami released many exclusive designs available nowhere else but Japan, including some of Birkenstock’s first-ever fashion collaborations with Futura Laboratories, BAPE, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Margaret Howell MHL, Standard California and Stüssy Deluxe. , the ephemeral high-end Stüssy collection.
In 2013, five Japanese brands – including then-obscure sacai and Takahiro Miyashita’s new label after the closure of (N)umber (N)ine – remixed highly specialized Birkenstock sandals, including the Pillica, Dakar, Themse, Rhein and Mississippi , not to be confused with Tallahassee.
The end results were bizarre even to today’s much more advanced tastes. They were also incredibly forward-thinking and way ahead of their time, which speaks to Birkenstock’s historic good taste.