Saturday, September 19, 2009

Birkenstock and Their Products

By James S Thompson

Soft footbed is the name given to the specially shaped shoe created by Konrad Birkenstock in 1897 designed to give extra support to the sole by matching it's contours more closely than traditional flat sole. Due to the untimely intervention of the industrial revolution and the introduction of the mass produced cheaper shoe a couple of years later his business floundered.

Wisely he changed strategy and changed from making shoes to producing contoured inserts for the mass produced versions and this worked out well for him. It was not until 1964 that his Grandson Karl started to design and produce footwear once again in the form of a sandal which was named the Madrid.

In 1966, Margot Fraser bought a pair of Madrid sandals thought they worked wonders for her feet which had troubled her since a child and decided to bring them into America. Until now Birkenstock had only spread across Europe and a shrewd move Margot acquired the sole distribution rights to Birkenstock's in the USA. She built the company and eventually stopped importing as Birkenstock's were now being produced in her own factories in the USA and new styles were developed and introduced.

In 1973 the Arizona sandal was introduced and this quickly became one of the best known footwear products ever designed and manufactured. Sandals and clogs were the main products and with the patented soft footbed incorporated into them Birkenstock became the favorite women's sandals brand and remains extremely popular today.

Other brand names advertise themselves as Birkenstock or offer the soft footbed sole in their products and they are the genuine articles. What Margot did as the company grew larger was to allow certain companies that could match Birkenstock's high standards of design and manufacture to produce these products under licence. Among these successful companies are Tatami, Papillio, Footprints, New-walk, Alpro and Betula sandals who are now creating sandals, clogs and shoes based on original Birkenstock designs.

Alpro shoes is another licensed manufacturer of Birkenstock styled footwear who specialize in work wear from heavy industry to nursing and catering. They supply a range of comfortable working clogs that can have the following features. Steel toes for protection on building sites and in factories that meet with health and safety regulations. Non slip soles developed to be resistant to sliding on oil based substances and other chemicals with uppers resistant oil or chemical penetration.

Clogs which can be safely and repeatedly hot washed and disinfected without causing them any damage which are widely used in the medical profession. Incorporating the Birkenstock footbed sole and a raised toe bar for a more natural walking motion these are extremely comfortable working shoes that can be worn throughout the day giving maximum support for your feet to avoid getting sore feet.

As of 2002 the Birkenstock Company became completely owned by its workers when Margot sold the shares she had in it to her employees thirty five years after founding the company. Today the company still enjoys great success and products like the Arizona and Madrid sandals designed in the seventies still sell extremely well.

Betula sandals are popular women's sandals as they have a soft footbed design for comfort.

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1 comment:

  1. Nice article about the history of Birkenstock clogs and sandals.