Matt Hundley, Birkenstock public relations and events manager, said, “Consumers who love their Birkenstock sandals have been vocal in telling us they would love to have this same feel in a sneaker, a shoe and even boots.” He added, “Our belief is simple, give more people access to the Birkenstock footbed, and by following this philosophy we can address the interest and develop footwear for nearly any category. Our design teams in the US and Germany are placing emphasis on what’s market-right helping establish us a true closed-toe footwear resource.”
While the classic Memphis and Pasadena styles has been in the line for years, Hundley said Birkenstock launched a fresh, yet limited shoe program for Spring ’15 with the Arran, a classic leather lace-up sneaker in white and black. The shoe was received in the market to much fanfare. Hundley says the Spring ’16 collection takes those developments further to a broader audience. “It’s exciting to see what’s possible and one thing you can count on is that shoes in general will be an important part of the Birkenstock mix moving forward,” he explained.
The Spring ’16 collection has a similar focus with additional suede and leather lace-up options in more colors, including navy, gray, sand and taupe. True to the Birkenstock’s comfort roots, the sneakers are outfitted with a contoured footbed and quality construction. “That is our DNA. It can’t be a Birkenstock without either,” Hundley quipped.
Retailers first saw the Spring ’16 collection at FFANY in June, and Hundley says feedback was amazing. “They saw a great combination of need and aesthetic, and that’s going to make these shoes very relevant in the marketplace,” he added. The line is targeted to department stores and better specialty retailers, and retails for $180-200.
Surprising retailers and consumers with new products after 243 years in business is no easy task, but Birkenstock is doing it by listening to the wants and needs of its target market.
“Think of all the people that wear Birkenstock sandals and clogs, they believe in the product, they’re advocates,” Hundley said. “Now, when those same people walk into the store looking for sneakers or boots, imagine the surprise and excitement when they discover they can get them with the legendary quality and iconic footbed from Birkenstock. We’re not making shoes for the sake of making shoes, we’re making them because there’s a need in the marketplace. There’s a need for the Birkenstock footbed to be available year-round to new and existing fans.”