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Rockin’ the Birks

By Samantha Rhodes

Photo by author

Birkenstocks. Jesus sandals. Hippie shoes. These are just a few of the names these classic shoes are called. It can’t be denied that recently you’ve been seeing more of these sandals. They project a laid-back narrative on their owners. The sandals have become emblems of liberal do-gooderness, and the company doesn’t even mind.

In an interview with Birkenstock Marketing Director, Scott Radcliff, done by the New York Times he said that, “Birkenstock-wearing, granola-crunching, Volvo-driving fill-in-the blank stereotype” emerged in the broader culture without any doing on the company’s part.They even find it entertaining. One example of this, is on the hit NBC comedy, “The Office.” In season 2 episode 9 of the series, Dwight Schrute, the nerdy salesman, wears Birkenstocks with socks to an office barbecue, and mentions that he always keeps an extra pair in his car for special occasions.

Dwight may not seem like the type to wear Birkenstocks, until you consider that he lives on a beet farm and does karate. In an interview with the New York Times, Carey Bennett, the costume designer for the show, said that she wanted something “that would fit in with Dwight’s wardrobe because he’s very sensible.”

Birkenstocks are sold in more than 5,600 places just in the United States, including department stores, shoe stores, online shops and over 216 Birkenstock specialty stores. Recently, Birks have caught the eye of college students and high schoolers, who want to channel that freethinking style from the 60s.

Jillian Osheroff, a Freshman in college at Indiana University, first saw them on a friend’s parent and thought they were a “very natural shoe.” She currently owns a pair of the three-strap style and says she wears them pretty much everywhere, with leggings and dresses. Zoe Wynn, a Junior at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, said that she loved the shoes as soon as she saw them. She now owns a pair of the toe-strap Birks, and says she wears them to “school, when running errands, to the beach; basically anywhere.” d.tech Sophomore, Sophie Dvorkin, has a pair of the classic two-strap and says, “they look like jesus sandals” but continues to wear them everywhere.

But not everyone is a fan of the shoe. A junior at a private high school in San Francisco, has always been disgusted by them. When asked what his initial reaction to the shoe was, he recalls that he said something along the lines of, “Your shoe game is trash.” Another Junior at Castilleja High School in Palo Alto, Chloe Middler, said that “at first [she] thought that they looked like ugly Jesus sandals, but eventually came around to the idea of not completely shunning people who wore them in public when [she] saw a girl wear nice white Birks with a really cute outfit.” Although she now realizes some people can pull the shoe off if they pair it with the right outfit, she’s not willing to invest $100 plus on a pair for herself.
It has been said that Birkenstock fanatics feel like they’re part of something bigger when they wear the shoe – As though they join a movement when they slip their feet under the suede straps and buckles. So now when you see people walking around in their Birks and socks take a second to really look at the shoe before you judge.

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