If You’re Thinking About Birkenstocks, Consider the Madrid

Kale and Birkenstocks must have one thing in common: a really, really good publicist.

How else would the two rather unassuming enigmas have become as popular as they have within the realm of fashion if not for the aid of a truly trailblazing and unapologetic ball buster? Kale is being used in ice pops and on jewelry and in smoothies and on sweatshirts which are all as equal parts au courant as, say, a piercing is — not to mention Man Repeller has covered the calciferous green at least as many times as we have the concept of style in the last year and change.

As far as Birkenstocks are concerned, need I even really mention Phoebe Philo or Kate Moss or Giambattista Valli and so forth again? That’s a trick question because I already did but you get the point. To really drive the point home, here are three dedicated stories that have been published in the span of the last year.

First, there was On Birkenstocks.

Then, there was On Ugly Shoes, Again.

As recently as April, there was The Birkenstock Debate, and today, there is an answer to the question posed on the end of that post (“Should I get them?”), and that answer is yes.

But only if you’re going to consider the double strap’s determinately chicer older sister, The Madrid. It looks a little bit more like it’s fresh off a boat sailing through the French Riviera and a lot less like the remaining spoils of the last Woodstock festival.

What you’ll find in the slideshow above are the sandals styled three different ways by three different girls starting with me, who wore them with a denim-looking Acne shirt, replete with back side cut out, and 70s style flare leg jeans by MiH. The handbag is Chloe and the sunglasses are Illesteva.

While I let my ass run free as it does, Amelia covered hers with a Madewell striped shirt. She also wore a white sweater from Topshop and old jeans by 7FAM. Charlotte let her inner-Row girl out with a mid length dress from Reformation and a sweater by Vince.

When all was said and done, we three agreed that the shoes were more comfortable than the double straps (which, admittedly, we’d all tried at least once) and I, personally, liked that I felt like I was heading toward a ladies locker room to take a shower with every step I took.

Now, will you try the Madrid? Frankly, it’s a wonderful way to remain on the fringe of a trend without pouring your entire body in the pool that is, I’m sorry for saying this, basic-ally Normcore.

Photos by Krista Anna Lewis

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  • prismcouture

    I love the look of the Madrid but my heart is still loyal to the Gizeh!

  • Guest

    FYI not good in the rain.

    • Leandra Medine

      Ditto that

    • Looks great with the red toe!

  • Quinn Halman

    ugh can’t. My mom already got them last week.

    • You so can! I’ve given up on trying to differentiate my mom in some aspects. We’ll
      Walk into the grocery store together, both with our dirty-blonde braids, thrifted dresses,

      • Quinn Halman

        you don’t understand!! SHE LOOKS BETTER THAN ME!!!!!

        • If it makes you feel any better, I envy my mom’s thigh gap.

          • Tara Edie

            Thigh gaps are SICK. You seriously need to reconsider what you think defines pretty.


          • Quinn Halman

            Pretty sure Emma made that comment in good humour… Also some people are naturally skinny plus this isn’t your place to impose on my friend’s morals

          • Tara Edie

            I’m not imposing, just starting a conversation! If we don’t open our mouths, we’ll never open our minds. Plus, I apologize for misinterpreting humor; even still, the phrases we chose to use and the content of our jokes whether in jest or not have a great impact on what society chooses to focus on. I’m a huge fan if this blog and my intention is not to offend.

          • Hi Tara! I appreciate your concern, but I meant it all in good humor. Also just saying I think “sick” is a really strong word to use. I was referring to my mother and she is by no means sick.

            I think as a culture we have progressed in many ways in accepting more body types, but the skinny girl is often put down in ways that suggest her slenderness is the result of not eating or pressure from external forces. This, of course, is true in some cases, but I can attest to the fact that many women (like my mother) are naturally thin and possess a thigh gap not out of starvation or peer pressure, but out of a balanced diet and exercise.

            Nearly every girl on my cross country team has a thigh gap and that isn’t because we saw it in a magazine. It’s because we put a lot of effort into our running — and our eating, which, mind you, contains several large plates of pasta — and that just happens to be a physical result.

            I guess in this case I am defending the thin girl because too many times she has been put down as mentally and physically ill in hopes of bettering the image of other body shapes.

            It’d be nice if we could just all coexist physically without having to shove someone or something down in order to gain acceptance of another.

          • Tara Edie

            Perhaps I was a but too hasty in my response. I understand it was in jest but I just get so riled up whenever I hear about women supporting unhealthy standards for their fellow females. I know that some people are naturally slender and often ridiculed because of it. In fact, I’m one of them! I think just using that term – “thigh gap” – perpetuates a glamorization of certain body trends that inadvertently cause people to feel bad about themselves. In all honesty, I wish bodies weren’t even a focus in today’s society. LESS emphasis on the frame and more on the fashion I say.

          • Hi again, Tara Edie!

            Thank you for your nice comment. Sounds like we are the same page, but I appreciate you letting me clarify my point! And vice-versa…thank you for clarifying yours!

            I, too, love this blog, and part of that is due to the cool and eloquent reader community. Thanks!

          • Tara Edie

            Glad we cleared the air! Now back to what’s REALLY important…which pair of Birkenstocks to splurge on next…


          • I am sticking with the Arizona for now! Just purchased a black pair about a month ago because my tan pair — despite only being a year and a half old — look like they have weathered many, many storms.

            I also have my eye on the Florida BUT have about 5 other shoes types from different brands that I “need” to purchase, so I feel like I should be rationing the love equally.


          • I’m a Birken-virgen, embarrassingly enough but I have a pair en-route via the wonderful world wide web. I nabbed a classic pair of Arizona’s because, in my opinion, they’re hands down the cream of the crop. The Madrid’s nice, but it looks like vintage Dr. Scholl’s (the ones with the wooden soles) and if I’m going to get a Birkenstock, I want it to look like a Birkenstock.

            As a seasoned owner, do they wear well? I’ve heard they last forever. Are they comfortable, blisterproof?

          • Shawna McComber

            Butting in here to add that thigh gap is not always just about being thin but about the way a person is built. Different bone structure -essentially a wider pelvis leads to thigh gap and I have seen very thin people without one and heavier people with one. 🙂

  • I’m such a big fan of Birkenstocks! My heart goes to the Arizona ones!

    Mafalda ❤

    • ChristenaR


  • Natali

    Simply can’t escape Birkenstocks, they’re everywhere nowadays!!


  • shan

    I got the traditional topshop dupes and barely regret it (I regret it some because let’s be honest this a 1 maybe 2 season shoe)

    blog: https://shannonhawkins.squarespace.com/blog/2014/6/6/hopped-on-the-ugly-train

  • Sissy Schoettelkotte

    Mine just arrived in the mail last night!! I debated forever but finally bit the bullet and ordered the Madrid in silver…love!

    • Elina

      You won’t regret it… the silver wears so well!

  • kristina

    There is absolutely nothing about Birkenstocks that says French Riviera. They look like orthopedic shoes.

  • I have a pair of Gizehs that I LOVE, and I was considering getting a pair of Arizonas, but I’m kind of loving these Madrids!!! Just PLEASE, nobody should even try to make the Bostons happen… they are on their own level of man repelling—i think HUMAN repelling is more like it 😉

    xo, coco | MILLENNIELLE.COM

    • Chelsea Murphy

      Wait… Guys, were these “human repellers” not absolutely in vogue in eeeeveryone’s high school in 2005?!? No one else had these in rotation with Adidas Superstars?!? I was pretty certain I looked fantastic.

      • Totally. I had that exact pair in 2004/2005 and they were AWESOME.

        • Chelsea Murphy

          Right?! I remember needing them so badly that I ordered them online over dial-up – they were enormous because I didn’t understand sizing and I kept them because I didn’t understand online returns.

          • This is truly a tragic story of what will soon be a forgotten time.

      • Thamsa

        Yeah, I definitely got mine in 2005, along with everyone else in high school 😛 I still have them too but just wear them around the house 😛

        • ChristenaR

          ummmm mine first pair were 1988

    • glitterandjelly

      I am wearing these RIGHT NOW (In suede)

      • glitterandjelly

        and they look cute as fuck

    • Maria Han

      The Gizehs were my favorite until I found the Bostons!! They’re much more versatile and I get to wear them in the fall and spring.. give them a chance ladies 😀

      • Guest

        I’m trying to attached a pic..

        • tf

          they look like the ‘house shoes’ old people wear here in germany :p

    • Kristen

      especially when worn with socks!!!

    • Wait, I kind of like these…They’d be super cute (okay cute is NOT the right word) with distressed boyfriend jeans and a clean white blouse, maybe with a hint of midriff for femininity.


  • Leandra and Abie circa 1972…..S’Cute!! So perhaps the Madrid doesn’t feel Woodstock to you, but I wouldn’t discount it for a hitchiking trip through mainland America in hopes of getting to the City by the Bay.

    May I suggest a Drug Rug with your above jeans, Leandra? They’re very comfy.

  • Charlotte that Reformation dress is a dream on you.

    • Charlotte Fassler

      <3 <3

  • Hodgko

    Love the look but my sad feet need ankle straps. Adoring the Dansko Janis as a result. So, so, comfy and supportive, and I like to think all the buckles are at an interesting intersection of “old lady orthopedic” and “quirky girl fun”:

    • Hodgko

      Disqus ate my picture!

    • amalieilund

      If you need ankle straps but want Birkenstocks there are lots of options: Yara (I have them and I love them), Milano, New York and so on.

    • stopugly

      wow those are some ugly shoes.

  • Natasha

    Its funny because this style was a mild fad 2 years ago in Canada… .it would be unique to actually rock the two strap there now…

    • Gene

      Where I live in Canada they never, ever go out of style, or I guess use would be a better term. They’re sensible mom shoes, scruffy hippie shoes, everyone shoes. I didn’t even know the different styles had names!

  • Jenna Calderone

    Mayaris are my favorites, the criss-cross makes my dinosaur feet look dainty. I haven’t stopped wearing them since I bought them!

    • pemora

      amen. i am so pro-mayari. i bought the emerald green ones last summer and i still rock them. am thinking about getting them in yellow now.

    • short_but_nice

      Yeah, mayari really look great. Unfortunately it would look a bit…strange, if I I wear them (being a man…). And my girl friend would be slightly surprised also… 😉
      Thus, my favorites are Gizeh currently.

  • Laura

    The interesting thing about the Birkenstock company and what I learned recently is that they are always trying to improve the comfort and to provide a really healthy shoe with the highest quality standards. Until recently they didn’t even have a design department and could not tell why someone like Marc Jacobs called them to ask for a collaboration, that’s why they told him “No thanks!”

  • Nico

    I love your look but for now I can’t wear those sandals!

    The last FLASH TREND: CULOTTES PANTS on lowbudget-lowcost Fashion Blog

  • Jamie James


  • Sally

    I own a pair of Madrids and have been trying outfits around them for a while now but never, never had the guts to actually go through with it and wear them on the streets (might also be a slightly different matter in Germany), but now I am definitely giving it another go, so thanks for the inspirational butt kick (in a very birkenstocky-namaste way of course)!

  • monkeyshines
  • Beth Olmstead

    For you and your readers: There’s a $25 Origami Owl gift certificate giveaway on my Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/BethO11371119 Good luck!



  • Béa

    Could you please, please, please tell us what MIH style those jeans are?


    Leandra, your jeans and shirt are not available anymore, are they?

    • Leandra Medine

      I wish I knew the name! Let me lewk it UP

      • Nicole

        Any luck??? Is it the cape jean? I cant seem to find that wash…

  • Chish

    I’ve had the Gizeh for 6 years now and they’re still going strong!


  • Consider the Larisa! My fave Birks.

  • Natalie Ast

    I’m a Gizeh Girl… but loving the Madrid in white!!! Here’s how I wore mine: http://bit.ly/1xVaHVt

  • I just showed off my new Birks on my blog today!!! Mine are the old school Arizona’s and I love them as much as I did when I was 16!

  • lavieenliz
  • leChat

    Hey sistehs: when you walk fast in the Madrids, dont they smak the bottom of your foot really loud ?? isnt that annoying??

    curious cats need to know ! =^..^=

    • Leandra Medine

      It’s fun!

      • Anna Louise

        Not for the listeners! See: Dr. Scholls

  • I love these and I have a pair of Brazil that are matte black leather with black buckles that are the PERFECT running around the city in the summer shoe. Even in the rain!

  • I saw others sharing pictures! You should gather all the Birk pictures… there should be a Birkenstock flash mob.

  • Myahoo

    Please, could you help me?))) Where can I find these amazing Tibi shoes from your “Man shoes” video on Style.com? Can’t find them anywhere 🙁 Thank you so much!

  • Sully Ann

    Leandra – Is that a ring with a bracelet all together? Its so interesting and beautiful! Please let me know where it is from! 🙂

  • Su

    Pretty ladies – those shoes aren’t doing anything for you! Get rid of them please!

  • Elina

    I adore my silver Madrids, I have had them for three years and get so much wear out of them every spring and summer!

  • Those are super cute! But for now, I am loving my Suede Arizonas with soft foot-bead. I feel like I’m walking on clouds.



  • ChristenaR

    nope! Arizona always! (just like in high school, when my feet never hurt in Doc Martins or Birkinstocks!)

  • Between the Blondes

    I concur. I first started drooling over the Madrid during Paris Fashion week (saw a great pic of them worn with socks). My personal choice: white patent.


  • Tara Edie

    As skeptical as I am about the ugly-gone-pretty trend, I’m game! I just scored me some black suede Arizonas today and I couldn’t be more thrilled. My feet need a break from heels!



  • With all this mess around Birkenstocks, I started searching for them! Oh,my! If someone told me that a year ago?!?



  • Greer Clarke

    Where is Charlotte’s Dress/skirt-and-top from?!

  • Ajnira Muminovic

    gorgeous!!! Madrid it is 😛


  • Seeing as I’ve already been wearing the Madrids since 2012, I am – dispite your well argumented discourse – still opting for the Arizonas this summer! It’s just time for something new 😉

  • sarah

    oh please make birkenstocks go away. there are ways to be comfortable, without looking scuzzy. from the ankle up, you are all adorbs ( and not in a model-go-see-in- the-mid-nineties kind of way.) i beg you.

  • Jess

    Arizona all the way! way better that the Madrid, the Madrid is too casual & like flip flops!

  • SachinBabi

    Love Birk, They are really everywhere… Would have been perfect with our outfit of the day! http://on.fb.me/1i1CGhq

    Xx. Sachin + Babi


  • Tara Edie

    I feel like if I’m going to get Birkenstocks, I’m going to get the a pair that look like Birkenstocks. These look too much like vintage Dr. Scholl’s. It’s a ALL about the Arizona.



  • Leandra!!! Where are those necklaces from?!?

  • Michelle

    Check out http://www.ISlideusa.com. Those are the slides that are the next thing!

  • I’ve been loyal to my Gizehs for years now, and recently took the plunge with a pair of white Arizonas (after much late-nineties-related angst around a suede pair I used to wear with the ubiquitous baggy jeans and wrinkled flannels). I tried the Madrids on once, but after shuffling around the shop trying to fight that awful slap-slap-slap with every step, they felt too much like flip-flops or cheap rubber pool shoes for me.

    Nice styling above. Simple and chic. Like with anything in fashion: it’s all in how you wear it. Birkenstocks have been around for over 200 years, so I’m sure they’ll outlive this blip on the fashion world’s radar, regardless of who jumps on board or not.

  • My sister has been begging me to get a pair since forever. I’m the one with the bad ankle. Whenever I complain, she says Birkenstocks. I don’t complain anymore. Or should I just give in and get a pair?


  • The metallic copper Arizona’s have secured a comfortable spot in my footwear rotation (and my heart). The Madrid reminds me too much of Dr. Scholl’s circa middle school.


  • Jessica Fleur

    I have both the Birkenstock Madrid and Berkemann Original wooden sandals that I got at Styllbox.com. I think I prefer the Berkemann sandals simply because I can change the straps to different colors.

  • Janne

    Wooow, I just saw that the Madrids are almost 30$ more expensive than in Germany :O

  • Isabellachan

    It looks very much like EVA, wich was launched on late May.