Birkenstock is a traditional company of German origin that has made it to the forefront of the fashion industry with its orthopaedic sandals.
Birkenstock’s history reaches far back – the label was founded in Hesse, Germany, in 1744. After 150 years of steady business, Konrad Birkenstock, a descendant of the founder, introduced what would eventually become the trademark of the company: flexible, orthopaedic insoles. During this time, the company opened its own production factories and started working with licensed partners. During the second half of the 20th century, Birkenstock became a recognised innovator in the shoe industry, bringing forward a medical approach that found broad resonance among international customers.
In 2013, Oliver Reichert took over the management of Birkenstock. Handing over the position of CEO to someone outside of the Birkenstock family marked a new era for the shoe brand. In the same year, the brand presented its first collaboration with another significant figure of the fashion industry: Phoebe Philo, back then still active as the designer of the French brand Celine. The collaboration with Philo marked the first of an ongoing series in which Birkenstock would partner up with creatives to curate special Birkenstock styles. In the wake of this new era, the Birkenstock sandals broke away from their image as a ‘medical shoe’, enabling the company to grow steadily in terms of popularity with customers, retail representation, their offered range of styles, as well as financially. At the end of 2020, the company cut ties with various German trade associations – reason being insufficient action by the associations against copyists.
In 2021, the investment company L. Catterton acquired a majority stake in the German shoemaking dynasty. A few months later, the company announced plans for a new distribution centre in Germany. The new centre is expected to be put to operation in early 2023. In 2019, the company made around 720 million euros in sales, recording a net profit of 130 million euros. Birkenstock was also able to match these numbers in the following year, despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic.