On Birkenstocks

And giving credit where credit is due


I want to tell you that I will never forfeit my sky-high heels. Sure, I look like a stork more frequently than any woman should want to and will fall every so often, but what’s so wrong with a few walking blunders? I for one, find that particular blazon of imperfection wholly endearing. And quite frankly, standing five inches taller than my natural height feels fantastic enough to compromise comfort under any circumstances.

Fine, I won’t suggest you run the reservoir in heels, (which, full disclosure, I did once) but I can confidently say that in matters of footwear, Leandra, and Leandra in footwear, comfort will only ever be a state of mind. I think.

Fall Fashion Week forecasted a different fate for my feet come spring, (which according to my excellent meteorological discernment, is now), when designers began to more rigorously (albeit inconspicuously) enforce a dress-code that would include (gasp!) pretty damn low heels. Could I have seen it coming? Of course. It was only a matter of time before looking like a stork could no longer be rendered en vogue. But to be quite honest, which often I am, I couldn’t have seen the low-heel’s violently odd and awkward cousin, the Birkenstock, slip through the fashion week cracks if Celine hit me over the head with one.

Actually, that’s probably not true–Celine did kind of hit all of us over the head with one. But Birkenstocks? Really? Yes, really. And though when I noticed the instances resurfacing last season at Miu Miu, Celine, Giambattista Valli, and through the continued efforts of Marni, (she’s a ride or die man repeller,) I swore to myself, self: never-would-I-fucking-ever, guess what? I fucking ever. Meaning, I think I’m into it.

An interlude for context: there were approximately 12 months during the course of my high school career where in spite of my aversion toward narcotics at large, I found myself enamored by the fascinating and curious world of Jam Bands. As such, I ate a lot of Cherry Garcia and Phish Food, wore a lot of tie dye, and, yes, Birkenstocks. When I came out of that brief phase (Casey Jones still on the mind,) I burned that shit faster than Ray Bradbury’s firemen could have defeated a library full of books in Fahrenheit 451. So, there’s that.

Now, if you ask Wikipedia about the history of the shoe, it will take you back to its genesis in Germany, eventually thrust you into the thick of American liberalism and find you at the heels (literally) of Generation X.

If you ask me, however, I will tell you that in spite of better judgement, I’m not falling into this trend because the aforementioned fashion designers (photographed in order above) told me I should.

No, I will argue that the fascination digs back into the Zeitgeist of 90s culture, which of course means Clueless and more specifically, one particular Travis Birkenstock. Indeed and in honor of the now ubiquitous Throwback Thursday, I think it’s important that we delegate credit where due and salute Mr. 12-Step-Program for his trailblazing efforts. You with me?

But really, you with me? Are we going to do this or what? I think I smell a DIY in our very near future.

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  • there was definitely a subset of my high school population who thrived on birkenstocks, hot boxing, and a healthy amount of keller williams. and while i have absolutely no desire to get back in touch with any of them i think i could be down to welcome birkenstocks into my life. though i’d probably do ashley olsen’s gizeh over jesus’ arizona.


  • Alex

    Thank God I’m not the only one who made it out alive from “the Jam band” scene and the horrible clothes….you make me smile xo

  • “Never-Would-I-Fucking-Ever”… I’d do Crocs before ‘Stocks.

    I wore them once (over at a friends pool house when I forgot to bring my flip flops with me). They were terribly uncomfortable and rigid beneath the foot bed

  • As one who had once been labeled a “dirty hippie” by friends (more years ago than I care to admit) for my love of Birkenstocks, I am both appalled and thrilled that they are “back.” I’m just not sure which emotion is stronger yet….

  • dk

    So, let me start by saying that I somehow get really passionate, when talking about Birkenstocks. Probably, because I dislike them violently.
    For once, I’m very happy for not being a blogger. I don’t feel the need to write a manifesto in order to defend my footwear choice. That being said, I am so not on that train. The Birkenstocks can be a lot of things. Granted, probably very very comfortable. But they will forever stay a gardening shoe in my mind. If you want to go to your veggie garden and pluck some tomatoes whilst wearing them, go on. But wearing them as if they are fashionable, that’s a no-no. Not even Christian Dior himself can change my mind (because of me being a Dior girl).
    I love you and your blog, but I would really love it if for once someone took the stand and said “No, Mr. Big-Name-Fashion-Designer. That is just ugly. And I would not wear it!”. What comes after the Birkenstocks? Are we wearing crocs next season? C’mon.
    (And please, disregard any errors. English is not even my first foreign language.)

  • Odelia Kaly

    I have been searching for Birkenstocks since age 12 when my cousin refused to take hers off. We went hiking in Wyoming and she attempted to climb a 10,000 foot mountain in them. If Birkenstocks can give me that sort of determination and are LINED WITH FUR AND BEDAZZLED, I am so fuqin’ in.

  • I love these and I’m not ashamed to admit it

  • Manu

    haha . . cool . . love it 🙂


    xoxo manu

  • These were actually (and still are, if I’m not wrong), a fad here where I live, especially with the teenagers. I can’t wrap my head around it, because no way in hell would I ever wear birkenstocks, even if my soles are bleeding and I have to hike thorough a jungle…no. Its just visually unappealing and doesn’t go with anything at all.


  • I have a strange feeling we’re going to see you in blue, furry Birkenstocks and doily socks in the near future…and I can’t wait to see how awesomely man-repelling that’s going to turn out!

  • Nico
  • maes

    I say, now we wait to see which fashion victim takes this on board because it is en Vogue and if Wintour approves it is worthy

  • Alison Jimenez

    I have no problems being openly and honestly pro-stock. I don’t know that I will ever go back to the very rare but oh so wonderful 90s Birkenstock clog, but they do have pretty darn adorable t-strap Birkenstocks that I rock every summer to this day.

  • Ashley

    I, too, have fallen victim to the image of those cray cray Céline’s sticking to all my latest browser tabs. But why you ask? The luxury upgrade to the 90s ugly counterpart. Furkenstocks, people. That is what this is about.

  • Em

    Birkenstock style shoes I’m into [those Céline ones look wicked comfortable] and that can be such an easy DIY.

    Birks and socks though?

    I………I can’t.

  • Anna

    I found Birkenstock sandals absolutely horrible in the 90s and still find them disgusting. Especially (!) the fur-monsters Céline created. Birkenstock sandals will forever make me think of wannabe-hippies who dye their hair with henna and are mentally stuck in the worst time-period of the 70s

  • I’m willing to consider any fashion statement at least once but birkenstocks weren’t ok in the 80s and I can’t accept them now! I’m only 5′ 2″ though so flat shoes are usually a no no anyway! BUT I DO give up my 6″ stilettos every once in a while when taking long walks like sight seeing or a marathon shopping trip!

  • I’m a student in a little town called Boone, which is in the heart of the High Country in North Carolina. The. High. Country. Just down the mountain is Wilkesboro, the birthplace of the NASCAR track. We get the craziest combination of college hippie liberals and rednecks at my university. Birkenstocks and socks are everywhere. It’s not even seen as acceptable, it’s seen as a norm. I can’t do it simply from association with jam bands and hippies stinking up my apartment with patchouli.

  • Mairzi

    There are ugly things which are so ugly they are cool and then there are those which are plain UGLY. Birkenstocks, even with fur, will always fall squarely in the latter category in my opinion. Many years ago, my brother brought me a pair of Birkenstock clogs (it was the 90’s but that is still no excuse). Knowing that he was a struggling grad student and realizing that these boats disguised as shoes cost him a fortune, I kept those horrible things for years, wearing them only on the walk down the hall to the trash chute. Finally, after moving them from the back of one apartment closet to the back of another at least five times, I threw them out rather then take them with me when I left NYC.

  • Manon

    On Birkenstocks: quite possibly the ugliest shoe ever. Rivalled only by crocs, uggs and that fluffy abomination that celine produced. No Leandra nooooo!!


  • alcessa

    Well … hurray for living in a European country famous for its elderly wearing sandals/birkenstocks and white socks during their summer vacation (aka Germany)?

    Because till today I haven’t been aware birkenstocks are anything else but comfortable sandals I might wear in summer (with jeans or a maxi skirt)? … It’s true (and the only reason I wouldn’t do any “embellished” versions is I like my stuff simple). 🙂
    Maybe I am so “sartorially innocent” because I haven’t seen too many hippies in my life and the connection doesn’t exist for me? Don’t know – but I do like the fact I can choose to wear them or not depending on the weather and clothes I put on that day. 🙂 solely

  • Casey Williams

    I’m going to embrace the birkenstock trend and call it “bohemian istanbul chic”. The ladies in Istanbul manage to be chic and earthy-crunchy, and it is with them in mind that I will put on these practical sandals.

    • Regina Joppert


  • What about Doc Martens? Anyone still rock those?? I think I have a pair in my closet left from high school!

    • alcessa

      Yes, of course! 🙂 My favorite ones are wine red and worn into submission :-), but I also like my second pair (black & high), because they make walking even more enjoyable (I need to feel be able to walk a looooong distance whenever necessary (it usually is, because I prefer it), so I need good shoes)

  • I rather like an aggressively low-and-stocky shoe with more architectural clothes. I think of it as a Bauhaus vibe. Plus, if my feet look huge, maybe my waist will look smaller.

  • Margarida Coimbra

    O Leandra, I coudn’t agree more with you I SWEAR I will never wear these uglies. I wrote about thise yesterday on my blog, here:

    By the way I love you blog!

  • Shannon

    I hate the classic tan Birkenstock but love what designers like Celine have done to make them stylish. I was shocked when I first saw them but over time I have come around to the idea. It depends on the whole outfit and what they are styled with. I’m interested to see what people wear with these sandals. Some will hate them but wear what you love!!!! Style isn’t about what everyone else likes. I wear what I love!!!! When you dress to please others- you lose your style!!!!!

  • I almost wore these again and then I saw how they looked on my feet.


  • Jennifer

    I’m going to pass on any and all Birkenstocks haha

    xo Jennifer


  • Johanna Moroch

    Tres jolie-laid, no?

  • Lara

    Yuck. I grew up in a very crunchy town (Eugene, OR) and a lot of bearded men and women wore these with their woolen socks, long johns, and tie-dyed skirts. I hated these as a little girl growing up in the 80’s in Eugene (hippie-central) and still think they are ugly.

  • GeorgiaGirl88

    YES! I love it.The ultimate in man repelling. I’m buying these today: http://www.birkenstockusa.com/images/products/510.jpg

    • elle maar

      I’d wear these in dark brown. They look good enough for me.

  • Anna

    It’s amazing what the right name can do to our fashion judgement. I want to bet that 90% of the people that consider buying those ugly (bad-ugly, not good-ugly like those crazy Fendi multi-colored heels) are only “into” because it’s Celine. This is not man-repelling but repelling altogether

  • Poulette

    I have been a dyed-in-the-wool Birkenstock wearer for the past 8 years… Those of you mocking clearly have never tried them on because once you do, you can never go back.
    And honestly most of the chic chicks I know in Paris & Milan wear them as well during the summer, there is an ease & an unpretension to them that appeals. Who knew they were still considered contentious footwear?

    I should preface that I’ve never gone the socks route, its a bit too reminiscent of my Eastern European uncles from the 1970s.

  • Black Caviar

    Never will we ever, no matter what designer re invents them. http://www.shopblackcaviar.com

  • These are super popular in bright colors in Argentina. I had the same reaction- thought they were hideous at first….THEN. BOOM, they become super cute. The are called Plataformas Birkenstock. BOOM.

  • Stile Vienna

    I remember Birkenstocks were all the rage when I was in my early high school years. Even last summer I reminisced about them, knowing that although they were terribly hideous they would one day come back and perhaps I should invest in a pair just to be prepared.

    Alas, here we are.

    Read my latest blog post about the Wedge Sneaker…yet another terrifying example of today’s ugly ass shoe plague.


  • Jackie Simeon

    This post came just in time I just ordered a cute pair of gladiator Birkenstocks from Free People!! They look nothing like the classical ones.

  • I guess I never thought these were that big of a deal. I wore mine until they broke and I had to get them fixed by a hole-in-the-wall madre & padre shop 2 summers ago in Rome, and never felt ashamed.

    Interesting to read the comments and see the vehement hatred here.
    some things us sheltered midwesterners will never get, I guess.

  • Linda

    Just NO. That is all that I can even say, NO.

  • Sarah

    No. No. No. No. No.


    I will not.


  • Eva

    I have nothing against birkenstocks. Love to wear them on a day of shopping or working in my garden but as a fashion statement? I really don’t see it…xx


  • Sartorial Revenge

    I don’t care how much fur, sequins, crystals and most importantly, designer labels are stuck onto the latest generation of Birkenstocks and the like, they will always be horrendous and the opposite of flattering (unflattering isn’t extreme enough to describe the damage these shoes are inflicting upon one’s appearance). They are not going anywhere near my feet – EVER.


  • Meeve

    I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing these in Montreal. But, and I hate admitting this, when travelling to Europe (or anywhere with lots of walking), they do come in handy.

  • Maybe you could pull it off MR and if indeed you do I shall have to tip my hat to you – for I will NEVER like, EVER wear birkenstocks – they don’t even look good on the models. And Travis was totally the comic relief in a movie full of comic relief so I aint taking NO fashion advice from him.
    Good debate. Same time tomorrow?

    ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.

  • Nathan Moy

    Yes, so many of those bejewled sandals/birkenstocks like chris kane’s ss12 ones are easily a DIY project. Besides, I’m from HK and these jeweled sandals are super ‘china’ chinese which is often view as cheap, uncultured and of low social status… but on the right girl with the right look, it can look as chic as celine. I’ve just post up my first ever LAYERING post with step-by-step images
    of provoking layers! I credit the provocation to the Stella McCartney
    SS13 Perspex Sandals but still, do tell me what you think! 😉

    xx The Provoker

  • Isabella

    I don’t really like Birkenstocks, yet I’m in love with the Celine ones since they first appeared in front of me. I’d own and wear them happily, despite of the 90-year-old-grandmother-in-home-slippers whole look thing

  • ashton


  • ash

    you are beginning to speak in third person, i am worried about you ego.

  • Alfons LaRue

    Do you think, in fifteen years, someone will put a bird on some Uggs and throw that on the runway? Just how cold is it in Hell today?

  • Clara the french

    i googled “diy céline birkenstock” and i found your post… must be a sign
    i’m all for it, with faux mink in white and rhinestone

  • I am so obsessed by these sandals…loved them all

    Android Developer

  • Phew

    Nothing at all to do with them being trended in a big way? All a personal choice huh? One of your avant garde fashion moments no doubt… Oh you craaazee Lea…

  • Artemis

    Hiddeous HIDDEOUS sandals.
    I’ll pass thank you.

  • Marla Vender

    They are comfortable, and that is that. They are not meant to be a fashion statement and that is the crux of the problem here.

  • Britt

    I think fashion is ready for some ugly again… Runway seemed so safe and sanitary this year!

  • flyingadolescent

    I have worn Birkenstocks (preferably the black leather Milano) for years, and they have lasted years, only needing a new pair as my feet have grown. They are simple, comfortable, stylish and now because of Phoebe Philo’s help, fashionable

  • Nooo!! Those are pretty darn ugly..I just can’t fathom anyone being able to do “street style” with those and look awesome. I seriously just want to see someone give it a go. And the fur on the sandals..:O Definitely cannot wear those on a hot summery day because the shoe will get matted in feet sweat stench. Lol sorry about the ranting! Just not digging them.


  • hahaha you’re hilarious! Well, these are all pretty ugly, but I have to confess that I’ve been wearing Birkenstocks for 5 years now (seeing the trend coming -haha of course not) but just for going to the beach. And never ever never elsewhere!

    Elisabetta from blackstripesandnosugar.blogspot.com

  • lia

    marni .. hehe ride or die man repeller . love that and love marni..

    her fussbets look way better with socks than without… with socks= super chic.. without = i look like a nun.. no joke


  • And on the menswear side, Dries did a killer Birk as well (and is responsible for my dalliance with the oft-ostracized “awkward cousin” of the kitten heel: http://t.co/zQU3XiPWgq)

    Dare I say it? Long live the Birkenstock! (With socks!)

  • Sian

    I’ve been um-ing and ah-ing over whether to buy a pair for the last year or so, not for fashion, but to able to do a lot of walking (summer in Sydney means flip flops or sandals but makes for sore feet after lots of walking to and from work). They seemed the least offensive walking sandal. I’d rather look uncool than as though I’m blindly following a trend. I was hoping they’d stay uncool but under the radar…

  • avice

    I’m a new teen blogger and I would love it if you visit my new blog http://theedgeinyou.blogspot.com! Can you comment both positive and negative comments so that I can work to make my blog better? thank you so much

  • grinchey

    beauty, eye of the beholder, blablabla. birkenstocks are quite helpful if you have plantar fascitis and some other footy things you all may or may not find out about first hand in the years to come. takes a little more work to make them work, but it’s doable. we take being able to wear any shoes for granted, until we can’t. enough already with the judgements. judgements are ugly.

  • Andrea

    I grew up on birkenstocks. they were my go to beach travel sandal, especially on those rocky European beaches. (if you tried rocking the jellies you would leave with one – I am convinced that the Mediterranean sea has a collection of jellies). I even wore the betulas by birkenstock. currently found myself buying the mayari style birkenstocks. They are comfortable. They are sensible. They are great. Hate all you want. I rock them with pride.

  • Petra

    Haha I had mini Birkenstocks when I was in kindergarten. They were hand-me-downs from my rich neighbor, but I thought they were so cool and comfy. I guess I’ve always sort of done whatever I wanted, fashion-wise.

  • xtyb

    I am Dyyyying for the Celine version: either the bedazzled OR the plain blue-with-red-fur version. Actually I would buy both today if I could only find someone to take my money. But in a cruel twist, I’m not able to get my feet in a pair. I do in fact live in the mountains of Colorado, a short way from Red Rocks which you pictured above as your prime example of stinky hippie-ness. So true. What is a man-repelling Coloradan to do when the perfect shoes exist, but only behind the secret closed doors and phone lines of a Celine boutique?

  • Petra

    Why are peple so vehemently angry at Brikenstocks? I thought this blog was supposed to be about dressing NOT to impress others, so you guys probably shouldn’t be so judgy……

  • Love that you have the picture of the hippies at the Red Rocks venue although I’ve got to say….hippies don’t wear birkenstocks and they certainly don’t wear shoes.

  • ‘she’s a ride or die man repeller ‘

    im dying

  • Verity

    As someone who loathes Birkenstocks and has an aversion to flares (sartorial, not the life-saving kind) I shuddered when they hit the Celine runway.

    Cut to a whistle-stop tour of Asia sans sneakers and a 5 hour hike around Hong Kong’s The Peak with infinitely fitter friends and I didn’t just drop hints to my partner, but begged to make them mine.

    I rode those hairy bitches to breakfast, BA and bed. Aesthetically they’re the bastard love child of Sesame Streets wardrobe dept. intellectually, they’re Méret Oppenheim. But, whatever, by slipping your foot into one of these bad boys you’ll know exactly how good a Bond villain feels petting his cat. The temptation to toe pet has lent to some fur shedding and depending on climate/propensity to sweat you can come off looking like a Hobbit. Regardless, for anyone who works from home: these will change your life. They won’t make you more productive. They won’t make you more attractive. But they feel sooo good you won’t care.

  • These are the ‘house shoes’ of choice in Austria! You can even wear them all day at work, if it’s in a school, store, post office, boring office of whatever variety, supermarket, library… And once white, now dirty socks complete the look of guileless comfort.

  • Behind the Mirror

    I still have my birkenstocks from the 90’s in the closet to always remind myself I wore them… and loved them!!! And if you looked at me now, you would never know… keeping me grounded…

  • kdkuda

    Just bought them (baby blue fur Birkenstocks) at Barney’s while visiting Chicago this past week. I live in Colorado, so these are sure to make more than a fashion statement. I did try on beautiful heels that I loved but realized I would not wear anywhere near as much as these. So bottom line, more bang for my buck. I will not be wearing them to a concert at Red Rocks this summer. Don’t want any red dirt or pot brownie residue to get on the fur.

    • Leandra Medine

      YOU HAVE TO send in a photo!

  • M

    I’m with Tanielle. I love them, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I am a very clean, well-groomed person. A golf course is as close to nature as I get. Just bought a pair of black patent thongs with a strap around back. Honestly, I think they are kinda sexy and bare. I swap my heels out for them if I do a ton of walking. I felt like you when I was in my twenties. As much as I hate to say it, I choose my foot battles now as a result. Heels are gorgeous, but they’ll fuck up pretty much your whole skeletal system. I look at wearing these some of the time as a way to prolong the wearing of heels into older age. Besides, once you put them on, it’s hard not to be sold.

  • kate

    They are everywhere in Australia. Its disgraceful. Aussies have very little style in the footwear department. On the other hand, our swimwear & resortwear rocks eg Zimmermann

  • Carla

    I’ve written a post about this on my own blog.

    Go check it out.


  • sassy.lashes

    I think the fact that these are so divisive guarantee it as a trend. I personally am all for it. CHUNKY comfortable and a nice dose of f*ck you to them. I love it when trends flip. I love the gizeh AND the old school two strap. its all awesome.

  • I’m even doing the crocs. 🙂 Not the ugly ones, but they have some nice flats that are very comfy on the feet. When it comes to Birkenstocks I’m so happy about every single shoe trend that makes the non-heel-look so desirable and “in”, because I personally don’t seem to find a good pair of heels I could work. So I wholeheartedly embrace the sneakers, the oxfords, the slippers and even the Birkenstocks. 🙂 And I really do like the esthetics.

    Runways have things I ike or dislike every season, it’s interesting that this is the one that divides people so strongly. Why do you think that is?

    – Maria, http://www.heijastuspinta.fi

  • Who says flat shoes can’t be chic? Check out all of these amazing flats by L’ezu http://www.Lezu.com

  • Mark

    Hmmm….that’s funny….not a single pair of Birkenstocks in those pictures…..and to those who found the GENUINE Birkenstocks uncomfortable, there is a break-in period for both the shoes and your feet. Other than being unbearably flat footed with hammertoe, bunions and corns from ill-fitting shoes you should be fine. (Yes, I am aware that bunions, for the most part, are from poor genes, but I don’t suffer from any of these hideous deformities.)

  • Realist X

    A pig is a pig
    Dress him up anyway you like. There are some really comfortable shoes out there that aren’t this repellent looking. Come on people you have to admit these shoes are designed for people that don’t care about style.

  • Isabellachan

    I am thinking of buying a platform birkenstocks. I like this red but don’t know how to wear it, maybe with a long plain white dress? Any advice?

  • Garu Derota

    Birkenstocks are disgusting. The dirty, sweaty and smelly look they get in a very short time is nauseating. I can’t believe how many young girls wear that trash. Comfort? Fitflops are 100 times better, just to name a popular brand. When I see a person wearing Birkenstocks all I want to do is look somewhere else.