How Birkenstocks went from frumpy Dad sandal to fashion favourite
How Birkenstocks went from frumpy Dad sandal to fashion favourite: German orthopaedic shoe maker – set for $9.2bn New York listing – benefitted from Barbie boost and women ditching heels in lockdown
- READ MORE: Birkenstock set for £7.6bn New York listing after Barbie boost
They’ve become the toast of the fashion world in recent years – and now Birkenstock is set to be valued at more than $9.2 billion in its eagerly awaited listing in New York.
The initial public offering price is expected to be between $44 and $49 per share, said the German shoe manufacturer, which has registered to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ‘BIRK’.
Birkenstocks have enjoyed a surge in popularity and sales in recent years; UK revenues jumped 48.8 per cent last year and demand has been further driven after the shoes featured in the Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie.
Having firmly shaken off their ‘dowdy’ reputation, the chunky, cork-soled sensible shoes are seemingly everywhere, whether it’s on the feet of Gwyneth Paltrow in Los Angeles, Sienna Miller in New York or The Crown’s Claire Foy in London.
The now Hollywood staple – loved by Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon and supermodel Kendall Jenner – is said to have become irresistible after women ditched their painful shoes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
They’ve become the toast of the fashion world in recent years – and now Birkenstock is set to be valued at more than $9.2 billion in its eagerly awaited listing in New York. Pictured, Julianne Moore in the sandals recently
Founded in eastern Germany in 1774 by Johann Adam Birkenstock, the brand remained a family business for centuries that focused on producing orthopaedic sandals with a gently moulded sole that promotes a healthy stride and posture.
But in 2021 the company went into partnership with L Catterton — a private equity group part-owned by Bernard Arnault, who as head of LVMH is one of the most powerful man in the luxury fashion world.
The comfortable sandal may not have been the obvious candidate to pique the interest of a man in charge of a fashion stable that includes Dior, Louis Vuitton and Celine – but perhaps he saw that the then trendy shoe would enjoy long-term success.
Previously, Birkenstocks were popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s before making a comeback in the early 1990s as part of grunge fashion.
But until the pandemic, they still remained largely under-the-radar. However, when stilettos were swapped for slippers during the lockdowns, people started to want more comfortable footwear.
Celebrity stylist Rochelle White previously told FEMAIL: ‘The surge of Birkenstocks I think started back in 2020 with many celebrities and models sporting them.
‘On top of that, social media is pushing them more. With the increased popularity of loungewear, I think this is a natural progress in this type of footwear. Sales of high heels dropped by 71 per cent in 2020.’
She continued: ‘This type of footwear can be tailored to the person due to their simplicity. From summery, flowy dresses, to jeans and jumpers, they are perfect for any age and look wanting to be achieved.’
Birkenstocks have enjoyed a surge in popularity and sales in recent years; UK revenues jumped 48.8 per cent last year and demand has been further driven after the shoes featured in the Barbie movie (pictured) starring Margot Robbie
Having firmly shaken off their ‘dowdy’ reputation, the chunky, cork-soled sensible shoes are seemingly everywhere, whether it’s on the feet of Gwyneth Paltrow in Los Angeles, Sienna Miller in New York (pictured) or The Crown’s Claire Foy in London
The now Hollywood staple – loved by Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon and supermodel Kendall Jenner – is said to have become irresistible after women ditched their painful shoes amid the coronavirus pandemic
Meanwhile Anthony McGrath, celebrity stylist and lecturer at the Fashion Retail Academy in London, explained: ‘Our lifestyles changed dramatically during the pandemic, and many people have adapted their wardrobes to match, with comfort becoming one of the biggest drivers behind what we are choosing to wear.
Birkenstock’s history: When was the German brand founded?
Birkenstock was founded in 1774 by Johann Adam Birkenstock and headquartered in Neustadt (Wied), Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
The company’s original purpose was to create shoes that support and contour the foot, compared to the flat soles of many shoes during that time.
In 1896 the Fussbett (footbed) was created and by 1925 Birkenstocks were sold all over Europe.
In 1966 Margot Fraser first brought Birkenstocks to America, where they eventually landed in health stores, thus becoming associated with hippies in the 1970s.
In the early 1990s ‘Birks’ enjoyed another spike in sales among high-school and college-aged Generation Xers, this was in part do to the introduction of Birkenstocks into High Fashion, most notably, by Kate Moss.
Birkenstocks continued to spread to Britain in the early 2000s due to headlines of Gwyneth Paltrow, who was spotted wearing the sandal.
In 2020, with more people staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, comfort became an important part of fashion.
Birkenstocks became a staple due to their convenience and comfort, this included the original cork sandal.
‘It’s therefore no surprise that Birkenstocks have proved to be one of the most popular footwear brands, with their promise of comfort and durability, and are being worn by a whole host of celebrities.
‘When we were no longer dressing for parties and occasions, we needed footwear that would work for a walk around the supermarket and a stroll to the park, while also feeling stylish — and Birkenstocks filled those requirements.
‘While Birkenstocks are instantly recognisable and are designed to remain true to their roots in offering orthopaedic support, they also come in a vast array of styles and colours, meaning there is a shoe to suit every need and taste.
‘The fact that they go with any look and pair perfectly with dresses, jeans and shorts only proves their versatility.’
Presenter and model Alexa Chung has long been a fan of the brand, while singer Lily Allen has been snapped out and about in the shoe, as well as reality star Millie Mackintosh.
Fashion bloggers and influencers have followed suit, with many lapping up the simple sandal as an essential part of their wardrobe.
Birkenstocks have been sold in the U.S. since 1966, after a woman named Margot Fraser discovered them on a German vacation and began importing the product.
The style has also spawned a range of luxury variants from labels including Celine and Givenchy.
Last month, Birkenstock said its revenue jumped 21 per cent in the nine-month period ended June 30, showing strength against a difficult demand environment for luxury goods as inflation-weary consumers temper their spending.
Birkenstock is a sixth-generation family-owned business. It has partnered with several high-profile brands including Dior, Manolo Blahnik and Rick Owens.
L Catterton will own a roughly 83 per cent stake in the company after the offering. Birkenstock intends to use the proceeds of the IPO to pay down debt, the filing showed.
Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley are among the underwriters for the IPO.
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