Review of "Birkenstock"

published 21/04/2007 | MALU
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Excellent
Pro comfy
Cons clumsy
very helpful
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"Clumsy & Comfy"

I’ve done something I thought I’d never do, I’ve bought a pair of Birkenstock sandals! Why have I waited for so long? Because they’re ugly and clumsy, why have I bought them after all? Because I needed white sandals, they were the only white ones I could find, they’re not expensive and they’re comfy.

Some years ago it wouldn’t have made sense to tell British readers something about this brand, although Birkenstock was first marketed in the UK in 1975, it was not widely known, it was restricted mainly to dyed-in-the-wool greens, hippies and vegans. All this changed in 2002 when Gwyneth Paltrow was photographed wearing Birkenstocks around London, in 2003 a mass hysteria broke loose, some outlets even had to introduce the one-pair-per-customer policy to prevent a catastrophe!

I bought the two-strap sandals Arizona (which has been on the market for 33 years), I was surprised that the size half a number smaller than my usual one fit me, I called the shop-assistant, she looked at the way I was standing in the sandals, my heels were firmly surrounded by the heels cup, my toes and heels didn’t touch the rim, she said the size was OK. I’m mentioning this in case you’re thinking of ordering Birkenstock sandals online, don’t think ‘bigger is better’ and order a bigger size than you usually wear.

The straps made of Birko Flor, a material developed for Birkenstock, are adjustable with a buckle, but I felt they weren’t wide enough for my high instep and I didn’t trust them to get wider with use, so after buying the sandals I went straight to a shoemaker and asked him to punch two more holes in each strap, a wise decision, I haven’t used both holes but I’ve made three straps wider by one hole. From the Birkenstock homepage, “The strap closest to your toes should fit comfortably but not tight, the other straps should be more loosely fitting to allow your heel to lift slightly off the footbed while walking.”

Some people have problems with the arch support at the beginning, that didn’t disturb me, though, but the toe grippers needed some getting used to. Birkenstock advise the customers to walk around indoors for some days to break the sandals in gradually, the footbeds made of latex and cork may feel a bit stiff at first but they become softer and more flexible with time, in this way you create your own customised shoe!

It didn’t take me longer than three days to become friends with my Arizona sandals, I then took them on hols with me, they need quite a lot of space in the suitcase which is not so good but can’t be helped. I walked with them on asphalt, I slipped into them with wet and sandy feet, I put them under the tap to clean them, they didn’t mind. Now they feel as if I’ve had them for yonks and I think we’ll stay together for a long time to come.

I’ll clean them with translucent shoe polish before I put them away for winter, I won’t use them in the house as slippers, I *can’t* use them that is, the felt-like material underneath the straps doesn’t let cotton or wool socks slip in, I could use my Arizona sandals only with fine synthetic or silk socks, things I don’t own.

The Birkenstock homepage offers a repair service, you should have a look at the ‘before - after’ piccies, just for fun, the ‘before’ one shows a sandal with half the heel obviously chewed off, should my sandals ever look like this, I wouldn’t send them in for repair, I’d buy new ones in their land of origin, of course, where Birkenstock has been around for over 100 years and where they cost only 39.90 € which means 27 GBP, the UK price is 39.95 GBP. : - (

This is the link to the English version of the Birkenstock homepage, you can find a catalogue there, the aforementioned repair service and a list of stockists:

http://www.birkenstock.co.uk/index.php

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Pity that there isn't a photo of a sandal at the top.

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Comments on this review

  • hiedihi published 01/10/2007
    The flip flops would send my heart racing and id come out in a rash. I have three serious phobias in my life. spidars, balloons and flip flops. its the noise they make. i cant go near them Heidi xx
  • Hope0805 published 29/08/2007
    Who would have thought that Birkenstock could ever be cool! I almost fainted when my brother (of all people) unpacked a pair of Birkenstocks last time he visited me (only as slippers though ;o)
  • avacarrdo published 02/08/2007
    I'd never heard of Birkenstocks until I went to uni and ended up wearing them constantly for three years. They are the best shoe-related invention ever!
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Product Information : Birkenstock

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