One sandal which is continuing to gain in popularity is the Birkenstock which has a long and interesting history. The Birkenstock brand traces its roots to a German by the name of Johann Adam Birkenstock. Birkenstock was registered in 1774 as a shoemaker in local church archives.
In 1897 Johann's grandson, Konrad Birkenstock developed the first contoured insole to be used by shoemakers in the production of custom footwear. 1902 saw another first in shoe making by Konrad when he developed the first flexible arch support to be inserted in factory-made shoes.
In 1964, these inserts were developed further into a shoe by Karl Birkenstock, and what would become the current Birkenstock sandal was created. American Margo Fraser discovered Birkenstock sandals while on a holiday in Germany. The famous footwear helped her with a foot condition.
Fraser founded a trading company called Birkenstock Footprint Sandals, Inc., in California. The company was renamed Birkenstock Distribution USA, Inc., in 2005. Birkenstocks are thought by many to help improve foot health and skeletal alignment.
I have been long acquainted with Birkenstocks which are very popular with professionals who work on their feet due to their reputation as providing excellent support.
My dearly departed husband, Michael Thornton Thayer, wore Birkenstocks from day one of our 25 year courtship and marriage. In fact, he had on a pair of Birks when he was transported by the 911 ambulance to the hospital where he died a few hours later.
Michael loved his Birks so much he even wore elegant black Arizonas with black dress socks and a tuxedo to more than one formal event. Birkenstocks became his own personal fashion signature. While he loved them all year long, he appreciated them even more in hot humid summer months and often had several pair for various occasions.
The famous cork wrapped open shoes have been said to suffer from multi-personality disorder since such a dizzying array of personalities have gravitated towards the famous sandals throughout the years.
In the United States Birkenstocks first gained widespread popularity with hippies and flower children in the 1960s. In the 1990s they gained widespread popularity with GenXers. The little German sandals with the chunky foot beds were worn by campus nerds, Japanese hipsters as well as doctors, nurses and dentists.
Whereas Birkenstocks used to be linked to liberals, environmentalists, geeks and rockers, they are now worn by fashionistas and hipsters. Fashionista Heidi Klum who not only wears the popular sandals, she designs for them.
Dean and Dan Caten, the famous twins who design Dsquared2 featured Birkenstocks in a past Milan men's wear show where the theme was glamping or glamour camping.
The Ramses, a manly version of the Gizeh, a thong style popularized by a posse of American fashion editors have converted many male hold outs including Leonardo DiCaprio and Usher.
My Michael's favorite Arizona is still a best selling Birkenstock model and the original shoe sold in 1966 is still exactly the same for those who are nostalgic for the iconic sandal.
Meanwhile for those with sweltering feet Birkenstocks are a great option. And you'll be at the height of fashion. Michael Thayer, wherever his spirit may be, would be proud. And yes, I still have his beloved Birks in my closet.
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