The price of Birkenstocks often leaves many people confused as to why they are so expensive. When looking at a pair of Birkenstock sandals, they may seem somewhat unremarkable at first glance. I certainly couldn’t understand why some cork and leather-style straps had such a high price tag, before I tried them out for myself (spoiler alert, I got hooked).
Some even find the Birkenstock design unattractive and cannot fathom why people would want to wear them and why people would pay so much money to wear them.
Birkenstocks are expensive due to an intricate and ethical manufacturing process, which is often done by hand. The shoes are made of high quality sustainably certified materials, are durable, long-lasting, and have superior podiatry function. Birkenstock is also considered a luxury brand.
Check out their current price here, to see if they fit your budget.
Birkenstock shoes are not expensive simply because they rely on the status associated with their brand name. There is so much more to these unassuming shoes than you may realize.
Here’s a video of me discussing if I think Birkenstocks are worth their price tag, to help you with your research:
Let’s get in to 15 reasons why Birkenstocks are so expensive, to help you get a detailed understanding of their price tag.
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1. The Birkenstock Brand Has A Long And Rich History
When a brand has been around for many years with a steady stream of loyal customers, it speaks highly of the brand itself. Birkenstock is one such brand. The company was founded in Germany and officially registered in 1774 by Johann Adam Birkenstock. The Birkenstock group became a family legacy.
Konrad Birkenstock, The great-great-grandson of Johann, developed the first contoured insole in 1896. By 1925 Birkenstock sandals were being sold throughout Europe and were later brought to the USA by Margot Fraser and sold in health stores. In 1947 Konrads son Carl wrote a book on podiatry.
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2. They Were The Pioneers Of Orthopedic Shoes
Footwear that supports orthopedic health is in no short supply these days. When Johann Birkenstock first began designing his shoes, the footwear at the time consisted almost entirely of flat-soled shoes. But the Birkenstock company started the movement and pioneered the design.
The company sought to create shoes that followed the foot’s natural contour in the name of arch support, comfort, and podiatry wellness. In 1896, Konrad Birkenstock created the first “Fussbett” or Footbed. In 1902 these footbeds or insoles were further developed to be more flexible in nature. Carl Birkenstock then developed these insoles into shoes in 1964, which was the birth of the Birkenstock sandal.
3. A Lot Of Effort Goes Into Manufacturing Birkenstocks
Birkenstocks are designed to care for your feet, so it’s no surprise that the caring process begins in the production line. The individual parts of the shoe are manufactured precisely, with many of these done by hand. Specific components require a fair amount of hand-crafting by skilled persons. It is pertinent that the working conditions within the factories are the best.
Whereas some companies would rely on the use of industrial machinery, the Birkenstock group believes in a quality that the human eye can only produce. Many facilities have stations where the leather is cut and marked by hand.
The production and manufacturing of a Birkenstock sandal can take up to 80 steps to be completed. During the production and manufacturing processes, careful steps are taken in order to ensure that the positive elements of the natural substances are not in any way compromised.
4. The Materials Used Are High Quality
The materials used in every Birkenstock shoe are of the utmost quality. Most of the shoes are comprised of felt, Birko-Flor® leather, natural cork, natural latex, suede, and jute. It is ensured that the leather is soft and the cork is cushioned and imported from Portugal.
All of the materials used are not only of high quality but also as sustainably resourced as possible. Those two factors combined will leave you with a hefty price tag.
5. Every Aspect Of Quality Is Held To A High Standard
Aside from the fact that every single thing used in the production of Birkenstocks is of a high standard, the way in which they are combined to form a shoe is also important. The Footbed alone is made in such a way that the combined materials work together without any aspect of its individual quality being compromised. Each layer of the Footbed serves its unique function.
Each step of the process of producing Birkenstock shoes is ethical. And in keeping with its high standards, Birkenstock makes shoes that are free of animal products. These are made from their trademarked synthetic Birko-Flor® and guarantee that the podiatry needs of any customer can be met with a clear conscience.
Before the materials even reach the manufacturing stations, it is ensured that they have been obtained ethically. In keeping with its policy on ethical manufacturing, the employees and skilled laborers of Birkenstock are said to earn quite a decent wage.
6. Birkenstocks Are Made To Last
These shoes may cost a pretty penny, but they are often viewed as an investment. While the shoes themselves do not come with any kind of lifetime guarantee, they are designed to last. Their durability, careful design, and production process add to these shoes’ longevity.
As with any shoe, taking proper care of your Birkenstocks will ensure that they last even longer than you may have expected. Many satisfied customers have retained their footwear for years despite their everyday use.
For more on how long Birkenstocks last, check out: How Long Do Birkenstocks Last? My Experience (PHOTOS).
7. They Are Favored In Many Industries For Their Comfort
People working in industries that require them to be on their feet for the majority of the time prefer or are even encouraged to wear Birkenstocks. The anatomy of the shoe provides more than adequate arch support and can be a great source of relief during long shifts.
A range of “safety” or “work” shoes feature close-toed and reinforced clogs with non-slip features. These come in an array of materials and designs but ultimately serve the same vital function as any other Birkenstock shoe. Doctors and chefs, for example, can buy specialized Birkenstocks, which retain their superior support while meeting the industry’s health and safety standards.
To read more about their famous comfort, check out: Are Birkenstocks Comfortable? My Experience (Plus Photos).
8. They Are Good For Your Feet And Commended By Health Experts
There is a reason that these shoes have remained favored over the years and why wearers of Birkenstocks swear by them. Simply put: they are good for your feet, and many podiatrists will concur. As previously mentioned, many books on podiatry have been written by a member of the Birkenstock family.
It is safe to say that they know what they are doing when it comes to the well-being of the feet. The design of the Footbed promotes comfort and arch support. People with existing ailments related to their feet find that wearing Birkenstocks provides relief and sometimes dissipates any former problems entirely.
The support offered by these shoes is unparalleled, and while they have been many competitive brands offering the same thing, Birkenstock was the first of its kind to do so. In 1966 Margot Fraser, who was a German dressmaker living in California, traveled to a spa in Bavaria. It was here where the Birkenstock Madrid sandals were recommended for her foot ailments due to wearing tight-fitting shoes.
These sandals made such an impression on her that she pioneered their sales in the USA. The benefits and functions of these shoes made them ideal for sale in stores focused on health and wellness.
For more on this, check out: Are Birkenstocks Good For Flat Feet? 2 Podiatrists Weigh In.
9. These Shoes Have Special “Features.”
Each aspect and layer of a Birkenstock shoe is designed to serve its unique function. The materials themselves are certified and carefully selected to ensure that the shoe’s overall quality, functionality, and durability are incomparable.
The Footbed alone is a unique feature comprised of several layers of materials:
- Natural latex – used as a binding agent during footbed production and combined with a mix of soft and coarse cork grains to ensure ultimate cushioning.
- Natural cork – is one of the most critical materials used, and the highest quality of natural cork can be pretty expensive. Cork provides excellent elasticity and insulation from warm and cold temperatures as well as moisture.
- Jute – the double layer of jute adds further protection in the form of moisture control.
- High-quality suede – this top layer of suede is what has direct contact with your foot. It is porous, which enables sufficient breathability. The soft and flexible layer allows for supreme comfort.
The Birkenstock footbed cannot be replicated to the same standard, no matter how hard competitors try. The structure of the completed Footbed is designed in accordance with the anatomical shape of the foot.
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The leather upper is made to withstand any kind of tearing while still remaining flexible and comfortable. The deep-set heel cup provides comfortable cushioning, while the arch support provides stability and the correct alignment. Birkenstocks are also waterproof and shock-absorbent. Your future knees will thank you.
10. Birkenstock Is A Reputable Brand Name
The fashion and footwear industry can be fickle, but an untarnished reputation adds to a brand’s appeal. People will notice when a brand has existed for almost 250 years without any significant controversy or scandal, with an ever-expanding loyal customer base. Let’s not forget that Birkenstock is, after all, a brand. And a well-established one at that.
Birkenstocks are among the top five footwear brands in the world. They have been around for over two centuries and have maintained great success in the shoe industry. With such a heavyweight status, you can expect a certain level of extravagance attached to the price tag.
Whereas some brands carry a high price solely due to the name, Birkenstock differs because the name signifies a kind of promise to the buyer. There is also, of course, a certain kind of status that comes with owning a pair of Birkenstocks.
11. Birkenstock Has Luxury Brand Status
Did you know that Birkenstock is a luxury brand? When thinking of a luxury brand, you’re probably more like to associate that status with brands such as Prada or Dior. How could shoes that were once associated with the hippie movement be a luxury brand?
A luxury brand, by definition, should produce goods that are high quality, have superior craftsmanship, long-lasting capabilities, and have innovative and limited distribution. The Birkenstock brand encompasses almost all of these criteria. Another hallmark of a luxury brand is that it is expensive. But that is obvious.
12. A High-Status Fashion Mogul Has Majority Shares In The Brand
In 2021 french billionaire Bernard Arnault bought a majority stake in Birkenstock worth over four billion US dollars. The stakes were technically bought by Arnault’s private equity firm L. Catterton and his family’s investment company Franciére Agache.
Arnault himself is the founder, chairman, and CEO of the luxury brand conglomerate LVMH (louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy). LVMH is the world’s largest luxury goods company. This group controls many well-established luxury brands such as Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Christina Dior, and Celine.
With an estimated $220 billion net worth, Bernard Arnault’s share in Birkenstock means excellent things for the future of the Birkenstock brand. Given the legacy attached to the LVMH group, Birkenstocks luxury brand status is further elevated and cemented in the fashion industry.
13. Birkenstocks Are Fashionable And Trendy
It was thought for a long time that only people who fell into certain archetypes would wear Birkenstocks.
They may not have always been the most fashion-forward shoe, especially during times when sleek lines, high heels, and elegance were the front runners for what was considered fashionable. Despite whatever was happening with fashion trends, Birkenstocks remained unapologetically true to themselves and their brand and maintained a loyal customer following.
Compared to other shoes, many people might still find them less attractive. In recent years the fashion and beauty industry has seen a significant shift in what drives sales. People a moving away from what is just aesthetically pleasing and focusing on wellness and sustainability. More people are choosing brands that are ethical and serve a functional purpose.
Birkenstock designs have come a long way since they were dubbed the “granola” shoe brand. We are seeing more contemporary and fashionable designs which appeal to a broader audience. Birkenstocks were created to promote podiatry health and wellness, and younger generations are realizing that investing in your future begins with investing in your health and well-being.
While adapting to the times, the structure and function of the shoe remain uncompromised. The many designs are unisex and therefore appeal to a large audience. Practically anyone can wear Birkenstocks. It is not reserved for just the young or fashionable. As a brand, they are highly inclusive, which can be quite rare in the fashion industry.
Owning a pair of Birkenstocks today is akin to owning a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes during the Sex And The City era in the 90s. Funnily enough, the high price of a pair of Birkenstocks is sometimes what appeals to a lot of people. There is an air of decadence and exclusivity that cannot be denied.
14. Collaborations With Top Brands Have Elevated Their Status
As the brand increasingly gains popularity and further establishes its luxury brand status, many well-known designers and brands have sought to collaborate with Birkenstock. Notable collaborations include:
- Manolo Blahnik
- Proenza Schouler
- Rick Owens
- Jil Sander
These kinds of collaborations see the brand reaching more high-end target markets and becoming more sought after. Birkenstock will retain the comfort and functionality aspect of the design, with other brands adding a new twist or chicness to the design giving birth to a perfect hybrid of fashion, function, and comfort.
It is strange to think that there was a time when wearing Birkenstocks was considered the ultimate faux pas by fashion moguls, and now many are vying for the chance to collaborate.
15. Their Popularity Has Them In High Demand
In 2022 Birkenstock was the most purchased shoe brand of the year. While the company has always had a steady stream of consumers, the world of social media, celebrities, and influencers has added a boom to sales.
Many trends are influenced by what is seen in the media. The former associations from a bygone era where Birkenstocks were reserved for the unfashionable hippie type have been cast to the wayside. We now see many striking ensembles pulled together by w pair of Birkenstock sandals. Often adorning the meticulously pedicured feet of a well-known celebrity.
After the global pandemic, many people shifted gears from the “rise and grind” overworked, burnt-out lifestyle and focused on brands that promote wellness. The most viral aesthetics these days incorporate natural, clean, and almost holistic elements. With so many people advocating for the Birkenstock brand, the increase in popularity means an increase in demand and, thus, a price increase.
There is no denying that Birkenstock shoes are in a league of their own. All the features aside, this shoe has stood the test of time. It has faced harsh criticisms, backlash, name-calling, and sometimes ignorant associations with subcultures. And yet, they never faltered. Never compromised. The once-dubbed “ugly shoe” is now considered iconic, and for a good reason. Birkenstocks may be regarded as expensive, but it is not without good reason.
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Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).