Why Are Birkenstocks So Expensive? The Birkenstocks Strategy

Why are Birkenstocks so expensive

Hey folks! Here is a task for you… Look at the sandals given in the picture below. Can you guess whether they fall into the luxury/affordable/cheap category? Oh please! Don’t peep into the internet for that. All you have to do is just guess it…

Birkenstocks Sandals

Most of you may feel that it falls into the affordable or cheap daily wear category. But to your surprise, these are some of the most luxurious sandals in the world.


Yes! These sandals belong to Birkenstocks that are hand-crafted and they are super comfortable.

Now the question is- Why are Birkenstocks so expensive? Neither do they look enticing at first glance nor do they suit perfectly for formal/party occasions.

We understand it’s hard for you to imagine daily wearable footwear with a sky-high price tag. But we can’t deny the fact. Again the same question arises- why are Birkenstocks so expensive?

Stick to this write-up as we will thoroughly break down the same.

Keep reading!

(A) What are Birkenstocks?

Before delving into your highly anticipated query- why are Birkenstocks so expensive? We need to look into the background of Birkenstocks. Here we go-

Why are Birkenstocks so expensive

If you’ve ever slipped your feet into a pair of Birkenstocks, you’ve experienced more than just a shoe – you’ve stepped into a legacy of comfort and innovation. We know, that it may sound like a flattery or exaggeration to you but that’s what it is known for!

Getting back to the story- a German shoemaker named Johann Adam Birkenstock laid the foundation back in 1774 with a mission to redefine footwear. Fast forward to 1896, and boom, the Fussbett (footbed) is born – a game-changer in foot support.

Let’s look at the company’s profile-

Name of the CompanyBirkenstock Holding plc
Former NameBirkenstock Group B.V. & Co. KG
Type of CompanyPublic Limited Company
IndustryShoe Manufacturing
FounderJohann Adam Birkenstock
HeadquartersLinz am Rhein, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Key PeopleOliver Reichert (CEO)
Michael Chu (Chairman)
Birkenstocks: A Brief Overview

Now, imagine walking on a contoured cork footbed made from layers of suede and jute. It’s not just about style; it’s about your foot finding its perfect match. These soles don’t just flatten out; they mold to your unique foot shape. It’s like the shoe was custom-made for you.

Then, in 1966, thanks to Margot Fraser, Birkenstocks made their debut in the U.S. Suddenly, health stores across the nation are buzzing with these comfy kicks. In the ’70s, they become the unofficial footwear of the free-spirited hippie culture.

So, what’s the magic? 

It is about more than just fashion. Birkenstocks are about your feet feeling cradled in support, whether you’re strolling through Germany or grooving to ’70s tunes in America. Birkenstocks aren’t just shoes; they’re a nod to a centuries-old commitment to foot comfort, seamlessly blending style and wellness. 

Step into the history given in the next section, and let your feet thank you.

(B) History & Evolution of Birkenstocks

Birkenstocks has been in the market for over 250 years. Of course, that’s not a cakewalk for a brand to stand straight despite going through two world wars, cold wars, a recession, pandemic. Birkenstocks survived all the way.


By opting for efficient strategies. Let’s look at Birkenstock’s history and evolution to understand what it did to survive boldly over two centuries-

EraYearsMilestones and Evolution
Early Years1774Johann Adam Birkenstock established the foundation of the company as a “vassal and shoemaker” in Langen-Bergheim, Germany.
1896Konrad Birkenstock develops the first contoured insole and introduces the Fussbett (footbed). He opens two shoe stores in Frankfurt, Germany.
1902The First flexible arch support for factory-made shoes is developed.
1925Expansion with the acquisition of a large factory in Friedberg, Hesse.
1947Carl Birkenstock, Konrad’s son, writes “Podiatry-The Carl Birkenstock System” to spread awareness of the benefits of Birkenstock shoes.
1963-1964Introduction of the first athletic sandal, Madrid, with a flexible footbed. 
Margot Fraser & Introduction to the US1966Margot Fraser introduces Birkenstocks to the U.S., facing initial rejection from mainstream shoe stores.
1973The popular Birkenstock sandal, Arizona, is introduced.
Expansion1986  Nordstrom becomes the first department store to sell Birkenstock sandals.
Early 1990sBirkenstocks experienced another spike in sales, especially among Generation Xers, and gained popularity in high fashion. 
Early 2000sThe Birkenstock trend continued in Britain, boosted by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow. 
ComebackEarly 2010sBirkenstocks sees a comeback among teens and young adults, fueled by the VSCO girl trend.
2018 PETA awards Birkenstock the “Most Animal-Friendly Shoe Company.”
Ownership ChangeEarly 2000sChristian, Stephan, and Alex Birkenstock took over management after Karl Birkenstock’s retirement, leading to competing product lines and subsidiaries.
February 2021L Catterton, backed by LVMH, agrees to buy Birkenstock, valuing the company at about €4bn.
IPO & Public ListingSeptember 2023 Birkenstock files for an IPO in the U.S., listing on the NYSE under the ticker “BIRK.”
October 2023Birkenstock completes IPO, raising US$1.48 billion, with L Catterton retaining 83% ownership.
Current Era (Present Day)2023-2472% of Birkenstock’s customers are female. Alex Birkenstock exits his stake post-IPO.
History & Evolution of Birkenstocks

That’s how Birkenstocks evolved from 1774 to the present day. Do you know, that Birkenstock sandal’s popularity immensely increased after the Second World War? Its core strength lies in its comfort.

(C) Why are Birkenstocks so expensive? Key Reasons & Strategies

Now, let’s dive into the exciting part of this discussion – why are Birkenstocks so expensive? This exploration aims to provide you with a comprehensive insight into what contributes to the cost of these iconic shoes. So, buckle up as we unravel the factors behind the price tag of Birkenstocks.

(C.1) Legendary History

We have already discussed this part in the previous section. So, here we will just sum it up. The extensive and fascinating history of Birkenstock reveals a legacy that stands the test of time. Back in 1774, Johann Adam Birkenstock laid the foundation for what would become an enduring brand. 

Fast forward through the years, and Birkenstock has not just weathered time but has garnered a steadfast following.

This German-born brand, officially established in 1774, boasts a rich heritage. The journey continues with Konrad Birkenstock, Johann’s great-great-grandson, stepping into the scene. In 1896, Konrad made a pivotal stride by crafting the first contoured insole, setting the stage for the comfort revolution that Birkenstocks is known for.

By 1925, the allure of Birkenstock sandals had spread across Europe, marking a milestone in the brand’s journey. The story takes an interesting turn when Margot Fraser introduces these comfort icons to the shores of the USA, making them available in health stores. A true testament to their health-oriented beginnings.

Adding a literary touch to the legacy, in 1947, Konrad’s son, Carl, delved into the world of podiatry by authoring a book. This not only showcased the brand’s commitment to foot health but also contributed to its educational endeavors.

In essence, the Birkenstock brand isn’t just a name; it’s a narrative that began in 1774 and has evolved into a symbol of enduring comfort and timeless style!

(C.2) Pioneers of Orthopedic Shoes

Orthopedic Birkenstocks

Imagine a time when orthopedic shoes were a revolutionary concept, and entered Johann Birkenstock, a pioneer in the game. Back then, footwear mainly meant flat-soled shoes. But Johann had a vision, a vision that laid the foundation for the orthopedic shoe movement.

Picture this – it’s 1896, and Johann’s great-great-grandson, Konrad Birkenstock, steps into the scene. 

What does he bring to the table? 

The very first “Fussbett” or Footbed, designed to cradle your foot’s natural contours. It’s not just about style; it’s about arch support, comfort, and overall foot wellness.

Fast forward to 1902, and these footbeds get an upgrade – they become more flexible, adapting even better to your unique foot shape. Now, let’s leap to 1964 when Carl Birkenstock takes the reins and transforms these flexible footbeds into something extraordinary – the Birkenstock sandal is born.

So, here you have it – the Birkenstock company didn’t just jump on the orthopedic shoe bandwagon; they were the ones who kicked it off. It’s a journey that began with a commitment to follow the natural contours of your feet, blossoming into the iconic comfort and style of the Birkenstock sandals we know today.

(C.3) Extreme hard work to manufacture Birkenstocks

Handmade Birkenstocks

Crafting a pair of Birkenstocks is no ordinary feat – it’s a meticulous process designed to prioritize the well-being of your feet, and it all begins on the production line. The attention to detail is striking; many components are carefully manufactured, and a significant portion of this is done by skilled hands rather than machines.

Yes! That’s what we discussed in the introductory paragraph. 

Birkenstocks are handmade shoes!

While some companies might lean heavily on industrial machinery, the Birkenstock group places value on the precision that only human craftsmanship can deliver. Step into their facilities, and you’ll find stations where leather is not just cut but marked by hand, emphasizing the human touch in every step of the process. 

The journey of creating a Birkenstock sandal is no sprint; it’s an 80-step marathon. Each step in production is taken with utmost care to ensure that the positive attributes of the natural materials used are preserved, and uncompromised by the manufacturing process. 

So, when you slip into a pair of Birkenstocks, know that it’s not just a shoe – it’s a testament to the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into caring for your feet.

(C.4) Exclusive & High-Quality Raw Materials

When it comes to crafting Birkenstock shoes, the materials chosen are nothing short of top-notch. Your Birkenstocks are made using a premium selection of felt, Birko-Flor® leather, natural cork, natural latex, suede, and jute. It’s not just about putting together a shoe; it’s about curating materials that ensure comfort and durability.

Take a closer look, and you’ll find that the leather is not just any leather – it’s soft, providing that luxurious feel to your feet. And cork? It’s not just there; it’s cushioned, and here’s the detail – it’s sourced from Portugal.

But that’s not all

The story gets even better. Every material used in Birkenstock shoes isn’t just high quality; it’s also packed with sustainability in mind. This means you’re not just getting a pair of shoes; you’re getting a pair crafted with a commitment to environmental responsibility.

Now, it’s true – all this premium quality and sustainability come at a cost, reflected in the price tag. 

But here’s the catch – what you’re paying for isn’t just a shoe; it’s a commitment to top-notch materials and responsible practices, ensuring your Birkenstocks stand the test of time.

(C.5) High Standards of Birkenstocks

Birkenstocks high price tag

In Birkenstocks, every detail is held to a remarkably high standard, ensuring not just quality but an artful combination of materials to craft a shoe that stands out. Let’s break it down for you.

Starting with the Footbed – it’s not just a part of the shoe; it’s a masterpiece of meticulous construction. Each material used collaborates seamlessly, maintaining its individual quality while contributing to the overall comfort. Each layer plays its unique role, creating harmony for your feet.

Ethics takes center stage in every step of the Birkenstock shoe production process. It’s not just about making a shoe; it’s about making it right. That’s what they claim. 

The commitment goes beyond materials; Birkenstock crafts shoes that are entirely free of animal products, utilizing their trademarked synthetic Birko-Flor®. So, when you slip into a pair, you’re not just indulging your feet but also meeting podiatry needs with a clear conscience.

Even before the materials hit the manufacturing stations, Birkenstock ensures an ethical journey. The policy extends beyond the shoes to the people crafting them – employees and skilled laborers earn a decent wage, aligning with Birkenstock’s dedication to ethical manufacturing.

In a nutshell, when you choose Birkenstocks, you’re not just choosing a shoe; you’re stepping into a world where every aspect is finely tuned to meet the highest standards, both in craftsmanship and ethical practices.

(C.6) Long Lasting Shoes

Investing in Birkenstocks may require a bit more upfront, but here’s the scoop – it’s an investment in footwear that’s crafted to go the distance. While there might not be a shiny lifetime guarantee, these shoes are engineered for durability, and that’s where their value truly shines.

The careful design and production process aren’t just for show; they contribute to the shoes’ longevity. It’s not just about making a shoe; it’s about making it last. Sure, they might cost a bit more initially, but when you factor in the lifespan, it’s an investment that pays off over time.

Now, here’s the kicker – proper care amplifies their lifespan even more. It’s like giving your Birkenstocks a VIP treatment, and many satisfied customers can vouch for it. They’ve held onto their beloved footwear for years, even with regular everyday use.

In short, when you slip into a pair of Birkenstocks, think of it as stepping into a commitment – a commitment to lasting comfort and style. Sure, they come with a price, but in the long run, it’s an investment in footwear that’s built to endure the journey with you.

(C.7) Comfortable & Satisfactory Experience

In various industries where being on your feet is the norm, Birkenstocks are the go-to choice for a reason – comfort that works as hard as you do. Here’s the lowdown on why these shoes are the favorites for those clocking in long hours on their feet.

The design of Birkenstocks isn’t just about style; it’s a comfort powerhouse, offering more than enough arch support. For those enduring extended shifts, slipping into a pair can be a sigh of relief. It’s like giving your feet a break while you power through the day.

Now, here’s the interesting part – there’s a range of “safety” or “work” shoes in the Birkenstock lineup. Think close-toed and reinforced clogs with non-slip features. The variety in materials and designs doesn’t compromise the essential function – comfort with a dash of safety. 

Whether you’re a doctor or a chef, there are specialized Birkenstocks tailored to meet industry health and safety standards while maintaining the superior support Birkenstocks are known for.

Thus, if your workplace demands being on your feet, Birkenstocks aren’t just a choice; they’re a practical solution that keeps you comfortable and supported throughout those demanding shifts. 

(C.8) Birkenstocks are Recommended by Health Experts

Birkenstocks recommended by health experts

Let’s delve into why Birkenstocks have stood the test of time, earning praise from wearers and health experts alike. It’s not just a shoe; it’s a foot-friendly marvel that has garnered a loyal following for good reason.

First things first – they’re endorsed by health experts, and here’s the scoop. Members of the Birkenstock family have delved into the world of podiatry, even penning books on the subject. It’s safe to say they’ve mastered the art of foot well-being. The secret? The design of the Footbed is a masterstroke that spells comfort and arch support.

If you’ve got foot troubles, you’re in for a treat. Birkenstocks aren’t just stylish; they’re foot therapists. Many find relief from existing foot ailments, and in some cases, these shoes wave goodbye to those pesky problems altogether.

Now, let’s talk support. 

Birkenstocks set the gold standard. Sure, there are contenders in the market, but guess who was the pioneer? 

In 1966, Margot Fraser, a German dressmaker in California, stumbled upon the magic of Birkenstock Madrid sandals at a spa in Bavaria. Impressed by their benefits, she spearheaded their introduction in the USA, particularly in health and wellness stores.

So, when you slip into a pair of Birkenstocks, it’s not just about fashion; it’s about a legacy of foot care that dates back to 1966 and continues to make waves in the world of comfort and well-being. 

(C.9) Special Features of Birkenstocks

Let’s unravel the special features that make Birkenstock shoes a class apart. It’s not just a shoe; it’s a meticulous blend of design and functionality that elevates your footwear experience.

First off, every layer and aspect of a Birkenstock shoe is crafted with a purpose. The materials? They are not just chosen; they are certified and carefully selected to ensure the shoe’s overall quality, functionality, and durability reach unmatched levels.

Now, let’s dive into the core part of the shoe – the Footbed. It’s not your average insole; it comprises layers that bring unparalleled comfort-

  • Natural Latex: This binding agent during footbed production mixes with soft and coarse cork grains for ultimate cushioning.
  • Natural Cork: A critical material, the highest quality cork adds elasticity, insulation, and moisture control.
  • Jute: A double layer of jute steps in for moisture control, adding an extra layer of protection.
  • High-Quality Suede: The top layer in direct contact with your foot. It’s porous for breathability, soft, and flexible for supreme comfort.

The interesting part? Competitors can try, but replicating the Birkenstock footbed to the same standard is a challenge. Why? Because its structure is uniquely designed to match the anatomical shape of your foot.

But wait, there’s more! 

The leather upper isn’t just tough; it’s tear-resistant yet flexible and comfortable. The deep-set heel cup? It’s like a cushion hugging your heel, and the arch support ensures stability and correct alignment. Plus, Birkenstocks are waterproof and shock-absorbent – your future knees will thank you.

(C.10) Birkenstocks: A Reputed Brand

Let’s delve into the world of Birkenstock, a name that echoes reliability and trust in the fashion and footwear realm. In an industry where trends come and go, Birkenstock stands tall with an impeccable reputation spanning nearly 250 years. 

That’s right – no major controversies, no scandals. Just a brand that has steadily built a devoted following over generations.

Now, here’s what the facts state – Birkenstock isn’t just any brand; it’s a household name, a symbol of trust in the footwear landscape. Ranked among the top five footwear brands globally, Birkenstock’s legacy stretches over two centuries, marking its undeniable success in the shoe industry. 

And with such prestige comes a price tag that reflects its reputation.

But here’s what sets Birkenstock apart – it’s not just about the name; it’s about the promise it holds. Unlike brands that inflate prices solely for the sake of their label, Birkenstock’s price tag signifies a commitment to quality and comfort. We have already discussed it before!

When asked, the customers say- “Owning a pair isn’t just about footwear; it’s about embracing a status symbol, a mark of unique taste and style.”

Well, that’s what we call reputation. Don’t we?

(C.11) Luxury Symbol

Reasons (Why are Birkenstocks so expensive)

Now, luxury brands often bring to mind names like Prada or Dior, right? But here’s the twist – how did shoes linked to the hippie movement earn their place among these high-profile labels?

Here’s how- a luxury brand, by the books, should deliver top-notch quality, exceptional craftsmanship, and lasting durability, and boast innovative, limited distribution. Now, Birkenstock ticks almost all these boxes. Surprising, isn’t it? 

And yes, luxury comes at a cost, but that’s no surprise. The Birkenstock brand not only defies expectations but also carries a certain level of prestige. So, when you think luxury, think beyond the expected. Birkenstock has not only reinvented its image but has also strolled right into the realm of high-end, coveted brands. It’s not just a pair of shoes; it’s a statement of luxury with a side of unexpected charm.

(C.12) Bernard Arnault: A Major Shareholder of Birkenstocks

In 2021, the French billionaire Bernard Arnault, the brain behind the luxury brand conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy), made a power move. His private equity firm, L. Catterton, and the family’s investment company, Franciére Agache, snagged a majority stake in Birkenstock, totaling a whopping four billion US dollars.

Now, why does this matter? 

Well, Bernard Arnault isn’t just any billionaire; he’s the founder, chairman, and CEO of LVMH, the world’s largest luxury goods company. We’re talking big names like Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Celine under the LVMH umbrella.

With a staggering estimated net worth of $220 billion, Arnault’s investment in Birkenstock is a game-changer. It’s not just about dollars and cents; it’s about the legacy attached to the LVMH group, a legacy that’s synonymous with high-end luxury in the fashion world.

So, what does this mean for Birkenstock? 

Well, it’s not just a pair of shoes anymore; it’s part of a fashion empire with unparalleled influence. Arnault’s involvement cements Birkenstock’s luxury status, raising the bar in the fashion industry. 

The future? 

It looks nothing short of fabulous for Birkenstock as it steps into a new era of style and sophistication.

(C.13) Fashionable & Trendy

Fashionable Birkenstocks

Once upon a time, the idea of rocking Birkenstocks was limited to certain archetypes (shoe models). These shoes weren’t always hailed as fashion icons, especially in eras dominated by sleek lines and high heels. 

But here’s the twist – while the fashion world chased trends, Birkenstocks stood their ground, staying true to their brand and gathering a devoted fan base.

Sure, compared to other flashy footwear, some might still consider Birkenstocks an acquired taste. 

But guess what? The fashion landscape is shifting. It’s not just about looking good; it’s about embracing wellness and sustainability. Ethical brands with a purpose are stealing the spotlight, and Birkenstock is front and center in this movement.

Forget the old “granola” stereotype; Birkenstock designs have undergone a chic makeover. The once niche brand now boasts contemporary and fashionable designs, appealing to a broader audience. It’s not just about looking good; it’s about investing in your health and well-being.

And the best part? 

Birkenstocks are breaking barriers. Their designs are unisex, making them a hit with practically anyone. It’s not about age or fitting into a specific fashion mold; it’s about inclusivity, a rare gem in the fashion world.

Owning a pair of Birkenstocks today is like owning Jimmy Choo shoes in the ’90s Sex and the City era. The price tag? It’s not just about dollars; it’s about the air of vintage, luxury, and exclusivity that comes with every pair. 

(C.14) Collaborations with Top-Luxurious Brands

Let’s uncover the exciting chapter in Birkenstock’s journey where collaborations with top-notch designers and brands have propelled it to new heights. 

As Birkenstock climbs the ladder of popularity, renowned designers and brands are lining up for a chance to collaborate. We’re talking big names here – Dior, Manolo Blahnik, Toogood, Staud, Proenza Schouler, Valentino, Rick Owens, and Jil Sander. These collaborations aren’t just about making shoes; they’re about creating a fashion phenomenon.

What’s the magic formula? 

Well, Birkenstock maintains its signature comfort and functionality, while these powerhouse brands sprinkle in their unique twists and chic vibes. The result? A perfect hybrid that seamlessly blends fashion, function, and comfort.

Think about it – there was a time when wearing Birkenstocks was a fashion no-no. 

Fast forward, and the tables have turned. Now, it’s not just about wearing them; it’s about having the chance to collaborate. Birkenstock has gone from a faux pas to a fashion favorite, with designers clamoring for a spot in the spotlight.

(C.15) Sky-high Popularity & Shoe Brand of the Year

Do you know, Birkenstock dominated the footwear scene in 2022?

Yes! In 2022, Birkenstock snagged the title of the most purchased shoe brand of the year. Apart from its comfort and appeal, the trifecta of social media, celebrity endorsements, and influencer magic has sent its popularity soaring.

Remember the old days when Birkenstocks were tagged as shoes for the unfashionable hippie? Well, consider those days ancient history. 

Now, you can spot these sandals complementing striking ensembles, even gracing the pedicured feet of your favorite celebrities. It’s a whole new era, my friend.

Post-pandemic, there’s been a shift in lifestyle choices. The relentless grind has given way to a focus on wellness, and brands promoting a healthier lifestyle are having a moment. Enter Birkenstock, perfectly aligning with the natural, clean, and holistic aesthetic that’s all the rage.

Let me give you another kicker: as more people hop on the Birkenstock bandwagon, the demand has skyrocketed. And, as you might expect, when demand goes up, so does the price. That’s the same case with Birkenstocks!

Note: We have covered another shoe brand that gained immense popularity. And that’s none other than Crocs. Visit the article “Why are Crocs so popular? Uncovering the virality of Crocs” for detailed information.

(D) Final Thoughts on Why Are Birkenstocks so Expensive

It is time to wrap up. The pricing strategy of Birkenstocks encompasses a combination of heritage, quality craftsmanship, and strategic adaptations to evolving fashion trends. Their historical commitment to foot health, evident since 1774, lays the foundation for a product that transcends mere footwear; it becomes an investment in comfort and well-being.

Collaborations with high-end designers and influencers catapult the brand into the fashion limelight, adding an element of exclusivity. 

The surge in demand, fueled by social media, wellness trends, and celebrity endorsements, results in a premium price tag. Birkenstock strategically positions itself as not just a shoe but a lifestyle choice, appealing to those valuing both comfort and style. 

As the brand navigates changing consumer landscapes, its expensive allure remains a testament to a legacy that blends tradition with contemporary fashion, making Birkenstocks more than just shoes – they’re a statement of enduring quality and timeless elegance.

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Published By: Supti Nandi
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