The Beauty of Birkenstock Sandals

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If you are a “child of the sixties”, then you have to remember the first time you saw someone wearing a pair of Birkenstock sandals. Ugly, rustic, and more than likely not all that comfortable were no doubt your first impressions. And wow, were they ever expensive after you were used to wearing a pair of sandals made from an old tire. However, these were Birkenstock sandals! They had a certain cachet.

It is tough to fathom that generations of Birkenstock family members have been crafting and creating shoes since 1774, when Johann Birkenstock labored as a shoemaker in a tiny German village.

It all began in the 1890s, Konrad Birkenstock, Johann’s descendant and a custom shoemaker himself, had a groundbreaking idea. He had the revolutionary idea to create a shoe that actually followed the contour of the human foot. What a concept. These were all of course, custom made and were a huge success. Unfortunately, the following decade brought mass production and they birth of factory-made shoes which meant that the demand for custom-made footwear subsided.

But that in no way stopped the Birkenstock family. He created an insert that hugged the the natural contours of the foot and specifically the arch of the foot, and could be placed in almost any shoe. Konrad and his son Carl improved and refined the arch supports over the course of the next 50 years. Their one-of-a-kind and extremely popular product was dubbed the “footbed supports” and the word “footbed” was the registered as a Birkenstock trademark.

Konrad’s grandson, Karl, came on board the family business in 1954. He wasn’t at all satisfied that the family company was known for strictly making the shoe inserts, that were mostly designed for a limited clientele, folks with bad feet. He wanted to create a shoe for the common man that would make them feel as comfortable as if they were walking barefoot. Not that was quite a novel concept since most folks felt this is shoes were the most unnatural piece of apparel ever devised, only fitting for the protection it offered for your feet, not comfort. He took the grandfather’s idea of flexible arch supports and married it with his own knowledge of how the foot flexes when in motion.

It took ten years of research and design, but eventually the first model, the Madrid, the first of the Birkenstock sandals were introduced to the world.

In 1966, just in the Nick of Time for the Woodstock generation, a lady named Margot Fraser purchased her very first pair of footbed sandals while visiting in her native country, Germany. She soon found that the sandals greatly relieved the horrible foot pain she had suffered with since childhood. She brought Birkenstock sandals to America and we know the rest of the story.

Today, Birkenstock has over 400 different styles of Birkenstock sandals, clogs, and shoes. Birkenstock sandals can be purchased in a wide variety of materials, colors, and sizes, and new materials and styles are introduced each year. They are very creative in their product design and that is one of the hallmarks. They are still ugly, still relatively expensive, and most important of all still probably the best footwear in the universe.


write by Jasper

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