Manolo Blahnik and Birkenstock: Why haute couture finds this functional shoe brand irresistible


Written by Lea Dolan, CNN

Renowned luxury shoe designer Manolo Blahnik and Birkenstock have unveiled a “proudly glamorous” collaboration that reimagines two classic styles from the German brand – known for the comfort of cork soles – in bold colors and opulent materials.

The two-strap Arizona sandal and the Boston clog mule have been transformed by Blahnik in three colorways, including two new designs that replace the standard leather and suede Birkenstock wearers are used to with plush velor in fuschia and sapphire blue. Each regal looking sandal features an ornate silver clasp and black sole.

Velvet gives everyday Birkenstock a decadent edge. Credit: Manolo Blahnik

“Birkenstocks have been in my wardrobe since the very beginning,” Blahnik said in a statement. “I loved and wore mine for many years. I’m so glad we got to work together.”

Blahnik, known for her satin stilettos, has been designing luxury footwear since 1970. Her designs, which have graced many red carpets, have also graced popular culture as a favorite of ‘Sex in the City’ star Carrie. , whose love interests Mr. Big, used a pair of Manolo Blahnik blue satin jewel-buckle pumps to propose.

The pink velvet Arizonas are among the most eye-catching in the collection.

The pink velvet Arizonas are among the most eye-catching in the collection. Credit: Manolo Blahnik

While at first glance Birkenstocks may seem incongruous with luxury, the brand has become a magnet for high fashion brands – even more so since the start of the pandemic, when consumers’ appetites shifted towards comfort. extreme. In 2020, British Vogue named Birkenstocks the sandal of the year. That spring, searches for shoes rose 225%, according to global fashion shopping app Lyst.

The shoemaker has previously released collections with concept designer Rick Owens, famed Italian label Valentino and Celine, while Phoebe Philo was still the French house’s creative helm. Owens kept his iteration simple with an elongated strap tail in smooth patent leather, while Philo lined the molded cork sandal in mink. Since 2020, there have been at least seven notable Birkenstock haute couture collaborations, with brands including Proenza Schouler, Jil Sander, Toogood and Stüssy.
In February 2021, Brooklyn-based artist collective MSCHF made waves with their drop “Birkenstock” — a handful of sandals made from deconstructed Hermès Birkin bags. Although the controversial MSCHF shoes (priced between $34,000 and $76,000) were not affiliated with the Birkenstock brand or Hermès.
The collab features a black leather colorway.

The collab features a black leather colorway. Credit: Manolo Blahnik

At a menswear show in Paris in January this year, Dior unveiled its upcoming Birkenstock redesign, complete with engraved Dior buckles and embroidered flowers.

Earlier this month, Birkenstock announced it had agreed to sell a majority stake in the family business to luxury conglomerate LVMH, bolstering its position in the world of high fashion.

As coronavirus restrictions ease and many return to the office, tastes continue to adapt. With more places to go, there’s a marked return to glam – as demonstrated on the runways during fashion month – but not without comfort. Which makes Manolo Blahnik’s luxurious velvet Birkenstocks the cutting edge of fashion.

Top image: Manolo Blahnik x Birkenstock collab released March 24.


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