Who doesn’t love a Birkenstock? Amazingly enough, some people are actually not fans, I found out recently — turns out folks outside of America’s coastal metropolises retain generational predispositions — but who cares?! Birkenstock forever.
Even if you somehow get enough of the beautiful humility that is Birkenstock’s in-line footwear, you’ve got the German sandal giant’s ample selection of killer collaborative designs to pore over — until they swiftly sell out, that is.
It’s not terribly easy to get a Birkenstock collab, either. The company has a history of turning away collaborators — CEO Oliver Reichert described a proposed Supreme collab as “prostitution” — and, given the seemingly simple shape of Birkenstock’s signature Arizona sandal, a number of companies have taken to aping the design.
Aside from one Birkenstock fashion show back in 2017, the company has made clear that it cares little for fashion’s whims. I mean, it’d rather team with a hotel than Vetements!
If you want a Birkenstock collab, you’ve gotta bring a solid idea to the table — or else you can take an orthopedic hike.
Thus, artists aiming to create something that colors far outside the lines of what Birkenstock allows for its footwear, be it DIY studs or silver hardware, customize their humble Birkenstocks. The Boston clog, with its ample toe box, is the typical starting point.
But those aren’t collaborations and, if we were talking customs, we’d be here all day.
Instead, let’s run through some of the best Birkenstock collaborations of the past few years. Note that this is hardly a comprehensive list — we’re talking cream of the crop, here — and there’s no particular order. Just a plethora of stylish sandals.
Jil Sander Arizona, Milano, and Berlin
Jil Sander+, the understated “essentials” line of Luke & Lucie Meier’s Jil Sander, dished three killer slip-ons as part of Birkenstock’s premium 1774 imprint.
The two-strap Arizona, three-strap Milano, and heeled Berlin mule were all kicked up a notch with opulent neutral-toned leathers and suedes atop extra-beefy soles, lending the sleek shoes a smidge of well-deserved visual heft.
BEAMS Spring/Summer 2020 Arizona
Japanese retailer BEAMS basically always comes correct with its low-key Birkenstock collabs but its Spring/Summer 2020 Arizona sandals are by far the best of the bunch, resplendent in plush, desaturated suede.
Dingyun Zhang “Cosy” Arizona
As part of Birkenstock 1774’s Central Saint Martins team-up, the footwear line invited four CSM grads to rework its sandals and YEEZY alum Dingyun Zhang came through with by far the best design.
Zhang’s “Cosy” Arizona sandals are the Arizona we all know and love, except with extra-beefy leather straps. Don’t break what isn’t broken, just puff it up.
Manolo Blahnik Arizona, Boston, and Rodra
“I don’t believe in trends and have never followed them,” Manolo Blahnik told Highsnobiety when his second Birkenstock 1774 collab dropped in Summer 2022. “Birkenstock is the same and I have a lot of respect for this.”
Thus, Blahnik’s Birkenstock collab is a little new and a lotta old. Why reinvent the wheel when the wheel is basically perfect as is? Hence he revised the Boston and Arizona with translucent PVC and polka-dotted pony hair.
He also devised the Rodra, a new silhouette, but it’s nothing that Birk heads haven’t seen before and that’s just how Blahnik, a longtime Birkenstock wearer himself, likes it.
Personally, I’m partial to Blahnik’s first Birkenstock collab, a lesson in quality collaboration. Blahnik’s inclination for flash and plush manifested in gem-studded straps and opulent jewel-toned velvet.
When legendary Parisian Colette closed its doors in 2017, it didn’t go quietly into that good night. Instead, creative director Sarah Andelman launched a barrage of collaborations with longtime pals and peers, including a couple sets of Birkenstocks.
This Arizona, rendered in black leather with laser-printed polka dots in colette’s signature blue hue and matching buckles, is part of the second round and it perfectly epitomizes the whimsy of colette and the versatility of Birkenstock.
Toogood Forager, Mudlark, and Beachcomber
As British brand Toogood continues shifting towards approachable consumer brand, leaving behind its brief history as a purveyor of quality artisanal wearables, sister founders Erica and Faye Toogood continue dishing collaborations that aid their label in crossing over to a wider audience.
This Birkenstock 1774 collab is by far the best Toogood collab to date — sorry, PORTER! — and included a Birkenstock bed (!), clothing, and three bespoke sandals that recontextualized the Arizona silhouette with felt, canvas, and nappa leather.
KITH Arizona and Boston
Whatever KITH touches turns to gold; somehow, that includes Birkenstocks. Just when you think Birkenstock sandals couldn’t get any better, KITH ups the ante with an absurdly slick pattern.
It’s all too easy to pick basically any of KITH’s killer Birks — KITH remixes a pair basically every season now, even when it ain’t warm — but I’m going with the Spring/Summer 2019 collab, which graces the Boston and Arizona with stunning tile-inspired uppers.
Rick Owens Arizona, Boston, Madrid, Rotterdam, Rotterhiker boot
Rick Owens has partnered with footwear brands as big as adidas and as small as Hood Rubber Company, making his Birkenstock collaboration more of a foregone conclusion than a shocking turn of events.
Rather, it’s what Owens did with Birkenstock that made jaws drop.
Over the course of three years, Owens issued Arizona, Boston, and Madrid sandals made with extended floor-scraping straps, nubby felt, glossy leather, and exaggerated cow hair, daring viewers to compare his Birkenstocks to the shoes worn by hippies in the ’60s.
He even transformed the sporty Rotterdam sandal into the mighty Rotterhiker boot and issued a fetish-y zine of slicked up toes clad in suede sandals. Birks gone wild.
Proenza Schouler Arizona and Milano
You’ll notice that most of the collabs on this list come from Birkenstock 1774, the premium Birkenstock devised as an outlet for the footwear brand’s high-end fare. It does do more than collabs, mind you, offering a whole selection of limited edition Birkenstocks, but we’re focusing on its partnerships here.
Like the other fashion companies on this list, womenswear label Proenza Schouler flipped the script with its Birkenstocks, creating something utterly distinct. However, its contrast-stitched, patent leather sandals are some of the most wearable luxe Birks ever made, the perfect blend of industrial and feminine.
Dior Milano and Tokio
It truly wouldn’t be a list of excellent Birkenstocks without Dior’s exquisite sandals. Obvious answer that it is, Dior’s Fall/Winter 2022 collab yielded some of the best — and priciest — Birkenstocks ever made.
A cousin to the flawless Tokio Super Grip, Dior’s Tokio mule is the perfect canvas for collaborative expression, offering ample room for Dior’s embroidered flowers, felted wool, calfskin leather, and Matthew M. Williams-designed buckles.
Not that the Milano is any worse, mind you, just that it was especially heartening to see Birkenstock’s underrated Tokio receive a little love.
Despite being based in California, Stüssy doesn’t always lean hard into its surfer roots. Yes, beach-y iconograpy is a trope of Stüssy campaigns but that sense of easy on-off isn’t always a direct inspiration
Not so for the two sets of Birkenstock Boston collabs that Stüssy devised over the past few years, dropping instantly sold-out sandals in corduroy and classic suede, the latter embossed with oversized branding.
This wasn’t the first time Stüssy and Birkenstock got together, contrary what was commonly reported online…
Birkenstock Tatami x sacai, TakahiroMiyashita TheSoloist., N.HOOLYWOOD, Kolor Beacon & White Mountaineering
Here’s a deep cut to round out the list.
Alex Birkenstock, heir to the family company, launched Birkenstock Tatami back in 1990 as a premium Japan-only sub-label of mainline Birkenstock. Tatami sandals boasted a four-layer, extra-cushioned footbed with more cork than conventional Birkenstocks, reportedly intended to recreate the feeling of walking barefoot across the tatami mat flooring of traditional Japanese homes, though the line is mostly defunct these days.
Birkenstock Tatami experimented with shape and feel to best complement the feet of its Japanese clientele, who’ve been one of Birkenstock’s most loyal consumers since the early days.
In return, Birkenstock Tatami issued plenty of exclusive models available nowhere else besides Japan, including some of the first-ever proper Birkenstock fashion collabs with the likes of Futura Laboratories, BAPE, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Margaret Howell MHL, Standard California, and Stüssy Deluxe, the short-lived higher-end Stüssy collection.
Back in 2013, five Japanese brands — including then-obscure sacai and Takahiro Miyashita’s new label after shuttering (N)umber (N)ine — remixed some very niche Birkenstock sandals, including the Pillica, Dakar, Themse, Rhein, and Mississippi, not to be confused with the Tallahassee.
The end results were bizarre, even for today’s far more advanced tastes. They were also incredibly forward-thinking and way ahead of their time, indicative of Birkenstock’s historical good taste.