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Birkenstock Exec Wants to 'Birkenstock' the World

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

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In this week's style issue, The New Yorker traces Birkenstock's fascinating, unlikely rise from German "fitness sandal" to international fashion stardom. In addition to introducing Celine-esque fur-lined sandals and slippers, Birkenstock exec Oliver Reichert says he wants to produce Birkenstock leather bags as well as mattresses, desk chairs, and other "comfort" products.

This fall, the brand is launching new closed-toe options with a Birkenstock foot bed, as well as a line of socks manufactured by a partner in Germany meant to be worn with Birkenstock sandals. The tagline will be "Socks and 'Stocks."

"I use ‘Birkenstock’ as a verb," David Kahan of Birkenstock’s American division said by way of explaining the new closed-toe options. "We did a sneaker bottom for spring—sneakers are a hot trend in the market, so we Birkenstocked it. We Birkenstocked Doc Martens; we Birkenstocked a motorcycle boot."

There's even an Ugg-like Birkenstock bootie. Somehow, New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead makes a strong case for Birkenstock boots. She tries on a women’s lace-up style lined with shearling and then writes, "With the warmth and softness of the fur, and the cradling comfort of the foot bed, it felt wonderful. I think I may have gasped."