Birkenstock, the outdoor sandal and clog company known for adorning the feet of the extremely fashionable and granola-eaters alike, has always had a soft spot for designer collaborations. From a gothic mashup with Rick Owens to a recurring “cool kids” partnership with Opening Ceremony, to a fashion-focused alliance with Valentino, for years, the German footwear brand has been successfully syncing up with the best names in fashion. But if the aforementioned collaborations still don’t have you convinced that Birkenstocks are worthy of a spot in your summer sandal collection, the brand’s latest venture will surely get you there.
Today, Birkenstock announced a collaborative collection with New York-based fashion label Proenza Schouler, which, coincidentally, is designed by two self-proclaimed Birkenstock men, Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez. “Birkenstocks were what my friends and I always wore because they were easy, comfortable, and had a kind of counterculture nostalgia associated with them that was very much in the air during those days,” Hernandez told W Magazine, referring to early ‘90s in Miami where Hernandez grew up, before moving to New York City to attend Parsons.
McCullough also adorned himself with the cork footwear, but unlike the luxurious beaches and nightlife of South Beach, Hernandez’s business partner wore his Birkenstocks on the road while following the Grateful Dead, proving just how versatile the beloved sandals can and always will be. This capsule collection further demonstrates that point.
“We wanted to keep its spirit, its hardcore functionality, but reduce the whole thing down to its pure essence,” Hernandez said of the inspiration behind the capsule. The result? Two versions of the iconic Arizona and Milano styles that are so in-line with the Proenza Schouler aesthetic, we almost forgot that they were Birkenstock.
You might even recognize the two distinct styles from the duo’s spring ‘20 show during New York Fashion Week, where two of the models carried them alongside handbags on the runway. The shoes themselves come in four new colourways: black, white, silver, and ochre, and are designed using velcro straps rather than the brand’s signature clasps. Understated black leather replaces neutral-coloured suede for the footbed, and contrast stitching was added to attach a touch of elegance to the otherwise utilitarian shoe.
To make matters even more elevated, Hernandez and McCullough enlisted fashion photographer Juergen Teller and graphic designer Peter Miles to develop a 3D visual concept for the campaign.