Birkenstocks are a thing. When my mate first started wearing them in 2018, he would get quite a bit of hassle from other friends for what were, in many’s eyes, house slippers. Fast forward five years, and the Boston mule is on the feet of every other person. Who’s laughing now.
In 2020, in a move that pre-dated many of these collabs, Stüssy was let loose on the Boston. Its design added the luxurious, textural appeal of corduroy to the clog. It was an instant sellout success.
So, why am I reminiscing about the history of Birkenstock collabs? It’s all in the name of context. Yesterday, Birkenstock dropped a corduroy capsule of three of its best-selling silhouettes: the Arizona sandal, the Kyoto slide, and, of course, the Boston clog. Available in shades of tan, gray, red and blue, the breezy kicks are a cool and casual addition to Birkenstocks regular offering, inspired by the success of that Stüssy collab three years ago.
But, whereas the original collab utilized cotton corduroy to achieve those sweet, deep trenches, the latest efforts use embossed suede. An odd move considering that cotton had previously worked so well and that Birkenstock has a complete range of vegan products. So what’s going on here?
As we’ve noted before on FUTUREVVORLD, the addition of animal-derived leathers on footwear is more a case of luxury (or the appeal of luxury) than anything else, no matter how much brands cite comfort or durability as the key factor for choosing it. There are many other alternatives, from the plant-based mycelium leathers to natural hemp or cotton.
While I do love the look of these new sandals, what I’d love more is if Birkenstock recognised that luxury and premium can be sustainable and Earth-friendly. Luxury can (and should) mean making a real effort to move away from animal-derived materials and towards plant-based ones. If we could achieve that, we’d all be laughing.
Take a look at Birkenstock’s (actually) vegan range via the brand’s official website and decide for yourself what led them to this latest release.