Birkenstocks are a comfy, versatile footwear option that goes with nearly any outfit.
With a variety of styles to choose from, Birkenstocks have also secured a reputation for durability and fashion, but it comes at a price.
At upwards of $100, Birkenstocks are not free.
Some of the reasons for this include the high-quality materials, brand name, and overall durability.
Let’s take a look at ten reasons Birkenstocks are so expensive.
Why Are Birkenstocks So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Birkenstock Uses Fair-Trade, Sustainable Production Practices
Though other shoe manufacturers cut corners when it comes to production costs, Birkenstocks are still made ethically.
Many know about Nike’s sweatshops throughout Asia, where child laborers are paid less than $1 per day.
The Birkenstock company, however, is much different.
They pride themselves on their sustainable manufacturing practices and ability to pay their workers and livable wage.
All shoes are manufactured in Germany under good working conditions.
Birkenstock did not come out of nowhere.
It has developed a brand ethos that came from the bottom-up.
It started as a small company, born out of a need for comfort and support.
The shoes were quickly adapted by the leftist liberal movement and only then, nearly 200 years after the idea was created, did Birkenstocks become a cornerstone of modern fashion.
All the materials used for Birkenstocks are harvested sustainably.
For instance, cork comes from the bark layer of the cork oak tree.
Cork can be taken without killing the tree.
A single tree can provide 100 to 200 kilograms of cork in its lifetime.
Of the adhesives used in creating Birkenstocks, 98% are water-based, which means they pose little contamination risk to the environment.
Natural latex comes from trees and is generated much more sustainably than synthetic latex, which is made from crude oil.
It costs money to pay employees a livable European wage and to naturally source materials.
As a result, Birkenstocks are some of the more expensive comfort shoes on the market.
2. Made With High-Quality Materials
Since Birkenstocks were first created in 1774, the quality has remained the same or even improved.
One Birkenstock certified retailer said that Birkenstocks are made using products of the highest quality.
The most notable material is leather.
They are made using real leather, with a cork footbed covered with more leather, and a rubber sole.
They are soft to the touch due to the leather covering on the bottom.
The cork beneath molds comfortably to your foot, to make the shoes very accommodating to any foot shape.
The rubber sole is durable.
The website says that in the company’s effort to protect the planet, all Birkenstocks are made using natural materials with little to no extra processing.
This greatly reduces factory pollution.
Some of the most popular resources used are cork, natural latex, jute, leather, wool, felt, copper, and brass.
3. Highly Supportive
One of the trademark details of Birkenstocks is their incredible support for feet.
In fact, they are often recommended by podiatrists for patients who struggle with flat feet and other foot and spine problems because of the great support they offer.
They can also prevent future foot and posture issues.
The shoes are molded to fit the human foot comfortably and supportively by containing supports for all three arches on the foot.
They are designed to fit as if walking in sand, where each grain molds around the shape of your foot.
As they are worn, the shoes continue to mold to the unique shape of the wearer’s foot.
When you first buy the shoes, you might notice that the arch is quite hard and possibly uncomfortable.
If you can bear the hard arch for a few days, you will find that they will quickly begin to mold to your feet.
One customer suggested that if you put them on right after you get out of the shower, they will mold to your feet faster.
One podiatric surgeon attested to the shoes’ supportive merit.
Dr. Stuart Metcalfe said that they incorporate “support for the natural foot arch.”
Still, though, Birkenstocks should not be a substitute for specialized insoles or shoes for people who need prescription products for serious podiatric issues.
4. They Are A “Brand Name”
Birkenstocks have truly made a name for themselves.
They are trendy, and therefore, they have a certain pedigree associated with the name, “Birkenstocks,” that other competing shoe brands just cannot top.
They have a clunky appearance that creates an aesthetic balance to light, flowy outfits.
At the Milan fashion week in 2019, model Kiki Willems paired her brown Birkenstocks with a blue oversized dress with oversized puff sleeves at the Prada show.
They have also appeared in advertisements for Marc Jacobs.
Today, Tracee Ellis Ross and Jason Momoa are often seen walking around Hollywood in their favorite Birkenstocks.
In fact, some people have even started to wear them at their weddings.
At one wedding, the bride wore her ivory Arizona Birks, and the groom wore the chocolate brown Yara model.
In February 2021, LVMH, the luxury designer brand conglomerate that owns Louis Vuitton and Dior, bought a big stake in Birkenstocks, further cementing the brand as a major name in fashion.
5. Designed To Last
Since they are so well-made, Birkenstocks are not just a fashion statement or a comfort item, but also a long-term investment.
They are built to last.
Made with a tough rubber sole with a good grip, these shoes are the ideal choice for long walks on roads or dirt paths that might be hard on the bottom of your foot.
If you wear Birkenstocks, you are sure to not feel any of the tough path beneath you.
Since they are leather, it is not ideal for Birkenstocks to get wet.
However, if they are sometimes exposed to water, and properly cared for afterward, Birkenstocks can still last a very long time.
Though some people think their shoes will get ruined if exposed to the rain once or twice, this is simply not the case.
Birkenstocks can easily bounce back to their original state (if not consistently exposed to the rain).
This makes Birkenstocks an attractive choice for anyone looking to wear shoes that can withstand multiple seasons.
You can further prolong the durability of Birkenstocks by using rain-resistant sprays that protect the coating and leather.
Birkenstock makes its own certified spray, called “Birkenstock Water & Stain Repellant.”
You can apply this regularly to protect the upper, suede, and nubuck from water and dirt.
It is suggested to brush the sole with a suede brush to pick up any excess dirt and dust to restore the original quality.
You can then wipe the top of the shoe with a damp cloth.
For stubborn stains, try using regular soap and water.
Very few fashion trends persist through the decades.
Baby boomers recall Birkenstocks from their youth in the 1960s and ’70s, and they are still in style today.
One customer said she had one pair of Birkenstocks from 1973 to 2018 and is only just now searching for a replacement pair.
6. They Are Versatile
The shoes can be worn by both men and women.
You can pair them with a nice dress or a dressed-down outfit at the beach.
As a result, Birkenstocks are a favorite choice for anyone looking to pack efficiently or minimize their shoe collection because they cover many bases.
One of the most recognizable styles is the Arizona, which features an open toe with two wide straps that go over the upper and middle portions of the top of the foot.
The straps are adjustable, so you can make them a tighter fit.
Another popular model is the Boston, which has a closed-toe leather fabric that covers the middle and upper portions of the foot.
This brand is popular among people who need to work in environments such as hospitals, which require closed-toed shoes, but also where comfort is of the utmost importance.
Birkenstocks can be worn by men and women, kids and adults, for casual and formal events.
The limit to Birkenstock usage does not exist, which draws a lot of customers to the market.
7. Trusted By Retailers
Retailers know that Birkenstocks sell, and customers almost always leave happy.
As a result, retailers are clamoring to be Birkenstock-certified retailers, and are constantly ordering new inventory for their stores.
For this reason, the Birkenstock company can mark up its products at a high rate, knowing that they are in such demand.
To offset the high cost of carrying Birkenstocks in their stores, retailers have no choice but to increase the price even more so that they can generate a profit from the sale.
Retailers also know that Birkenstocks are timeless.
They have been trendy for decades now and will not be out of style anytime soon.
Unlike fashionable shoes that leave the market after two years or less, people always want Birkenstocks, for the first time or to replace their (finally) worn-down pair.
8. Variety Of Styles
Unlike a lot of orthopedic shoes, Birkenstocks do not necessarily sacrifice style for comfort.
Though some may say that the shoes have a “biblical flair” to them, not all styles are the same.
Perhaps most importantly, not all Birkenstocks are created equal.
The Arizona model is a best-seller because it is so versatile for a variety of settings.
Doctors and nurses wear them to work in hospitals, while they are the same shoes found in Vogue.
Birkenstock combines a unique mix of fashion and function.
Birkenstocks have a less feminine look than many other shoes, which is another draw to the many models they sell.
This emphasis on less-feminine footwear has developed symmetrically with the latest wave of feminism, which challenges what it means to dress “like a lady.”
Birkenstocks are unisex, after all.
For those who want to wear them as a statement piece, Birkenstocks released models in the metallics—gold, silver, and rose gold.
9. They Have A Celebrity Following
In 2013 and 2014, Birkenstocks made their debut as fashionable shoes.
Tabloids spotted them on the feet of Rihanna, Kate Moss, and Chloë Sevigny.
This elevated their value, and the demand for Birkenstocks grew.
As demand grew, so did the cost.
Birkenstocks became officially trendy and even made their way to the catwalk on the feet of models like Celine, Marni, Giambattista Valli, and Isabel Marant.
Now, influencer culture has taken hold of the Birkenstock brand.
When famous influencers wear Birkenstocks and tag the company in their posts, sales increase exponentially.
Birkenstock does not even pay any influencers to market their products via Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, or any other social media platform, but when people scroll through their feed and see their famous social media celebrity wearing Birkenstocks, it generates publicity and a new market of Gen Z customers buying into the brand.
The brand did not do any marketing at all before 2013.
Birkenstocks continue to be a brand of progressive youth, and this time, they are famous and fashionable.
Therefore, the brand can afford to sell its shoes at a high price.
10. Super Comfortable
The defining feature of Birkenstocks is their high level of comfort.
Once the shoe molds to your foot, the comfort is simply unparalleled.
That is why people are willing to endure the one week it takes to break in their shoes.
The work-from-home renaissance of 2020 and 2021 has also encouraged people to seek comfortable fashion choices.
Birkenstocks are an easy solution because they are comfortable for the home office but can also be worn to the store or even to workplaces with more casual dress codes.
One customer reported backpacking around Ireland for weeks wearing Birkenstocks while another said she takes her dog on three-mile walks wearing the famous shoes.
There is no doubt that these shoes are of great quality and so comfortable that they can be worn for miles and hours on end.
Some people comment on the aesthetic of Birkenstocks, saying they look like something a biblical prophet might wear.
Regardless of your opinion of how they look, the truth is that Birkenstocks are so comfortable that the way they look hardly matters.
People are willing to endure a week of breaking in their tough arches to become a sanctuary for their feet.
Like Dr. Martens, Converse All-Stars, and Red Wing boots, Birkenstock has developed a cult following of loyal customers willing to endure the pain to achieve the comfort and support for which the brand is known.
How Did Birkenstocks Start?
Birkenstock is a German company with roots tracing back to 1774 when a shoemaker wanted to create sandals that reflect the foot’s natural, healthy structure.
The cork core is designed to have an anatomical molding that adapts to the customer’s foot to find some compromise between the person’s foot and a healthy foot.
From that, Birkenstocks developed further until the release of the first official model, the “Madrid” in 1963.
The hippie and counterculture movements of the 1960s and 1970s immediately embraced them, and Birkenstocks have since been cemented as a style pillar of the liberal leftists.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, neo-liberals took to the brand and the Birkenstock brand became what it is today.
In 2013 and 2014, they really made a foray into mainstream fashion under the premise that “they’re so ugly, they’re hip.”
Celebrities such as Kate Moss and Rihanna wore them on days out, and some models even took them to the catwalk.
I Just Bought Birkenstocks. Why Are They So Uncomfortable?
It is all about breaking in your shoes. In fact, enduring the pain is integral to the Birkenstock brand ethos.
One loyal Birkenstock customer complained to Vox that she has had three pairs of Birkenstocks, all of which have been the epitome of comfort, but one specific style was not that way and made her feet bleed for a week.
This is not the case for most customers.
It depends on the style of shoe you choose in addition to your foot structure and previous shoes.
For people coming from the flat thin soles of Converse and Vans, their feet might not be used to the supportive thickness and arch that comes with Birkenstock.
This could yield a sense of discomfort for about a week before the shoes are fully broken in.
However, it is all for the greater good and your feet will thank you for it.
Birkenstocks are incredibly supportive and will help you maintain your foot’s natural arch and better posture.
How Can I Break In My Birkenstocks Faster?
Some people on the Internet have suggested using a hammer to lightly tap the areas that are too painful.
Do not use it excessively—just enough to get past a certain threshold—because you will still want to do most of the breaking in yourself, so that the shoe molds to your foot.
Another customer suggested wearing them right after the shower since the combination of dampness and warmth on your foot can help the cork interior of the shoe to mold faster to your foot.
If the straps are too loose on your shoes, you can use a needle or sharp object to puncture another hole.
This will help your shoes fit more snugly and comfortably.
If you’re finding it hard to endure the pain for the first week, you can try wearing them with socks to lessen the direct contact between your shoe and your foot, while the shoe molds itself to your foot’s shape.