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Birkenstocks vs Crocs: Pick Your New Guilty Pleasure for Footwear

Editorials

Melanie Kwok
September 16, 2021

Usually when you think of sandals, you think about the convenience of slipping them on - which is exactly what Birkenstock offers but more. The orthopedic-inspired sandals are known for its exceptional comfort and durability, with inner soles shaped with special support elements that your feet will thank you for.

Image via Birkenstock
Image via Birkenstock

Previously, Ox Street magazine asked ourselves if we still hate Crocs sandals or has it become an essential footwear especially with many opting for comfortable outfits as they work from home during the pandemic. With many sold out collaborations such as their recent one with American DJ Diplo, it is safe to conclude that Crocs are back. Today we pit everyone's now favorite rubber clogs against another brand of sandals known for its comfort and questionable design aesthetics, Birkenstock.

The iconic cork, jute, and suede-soled footbeds found on Birkenstock sandals are easily recognizable anywhere. With more than 250 years of history, you can be assured about the quality of Birkenstocks in terms of quality, comfort, craftsmanship, and support.

Image via Birkenstock
Image via Birkenstock

Usually when you think of sandals, you think about the convenience of slipping them on - which is exactly what Birkenstock offers but more. The orthopedic-inspired sandals are known for its exceptional comfort and durability, with inner soles shaped with special support elements that your feet will thank you for. The deep heel cup that cushions your feet along with the arch support delivers unparalleled comfort. Besides being notoriously painful to break in, is it enough to overlook the aesthetics of the shoes that have often been criticized for?

Image via Birkenstock and Hypebeast
Image via Birkenstock and Hypebeast

The most commonly spotted Birkenstocks are those with one or two leather straps and buckles on them, and those have become the staple for both men and women around the world. They are easy to match with trousers, jeans, and even dresses to give a certain 90s grunge chicness. The brand even has even come up with wool covered winter versions of the shoes for comfort all year round.

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While the brand has become a part of subculture trends like normcore, there are still many who hate Birkenstocks fervently or some who are confused and constantly having an inner struggle. Yet Birkenstock has been rising in popularity having been seen as a rejection of the high-fashion streetwear boom.

Collaborations

Crocs has not stopped rolling out successful collabs after collabs not just with celebrities like Justin Bieber and Post Malone, but also world renowned artists and designers like Takashi Murakami and Christopher Kane. Birkenstocks on the other hand, has their fair share of high profile collaborations as well with designers and brands that have reimagined the cork-based footwear.

Image via Birkenstock and Hypebeast
Image via Birkenstock and Hypebeast

Popular streetwear brand Stüssy has come up with the Stüssy x Birkenstock Boston Clogs in “Anthracite” and “Bone” late last year. The shoes come in corduroy wrapped uppers with a strap, an adjustable buckle, and the Stüssy logo debossed on the side. This is complete with Birkenstock’s signature cork footbed with integrated latex foam cushion and dark brown suede lining.

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stussy-birkenstock-boston-clog-release-curdoroy-anthracite-bone-9.jpg
Image via Stüssy and Hypebeast

Italian luxury label Valentino is also amongst one of Birkenstock’s high profile collaborations, working on the Arizona silhouette more than once. Their recent collab last year resulted in a military-inspired design in “VLTN Army Green/Brushwood” or “VLTN Army Green/Lime”. Both colors come in a rubber sole unit, black buckles on premium black leather, and camouflage prints and bold “VLTN” branding.

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valentino-birkenstock-arizona-sandal-summer-2020-collaboration-collection-camouflage-2.jpg
Image via Valentino and Hypebeast

The latest collaboration Birkenstock had was a reunion with American designer Rick Owens in June, 2021. The third project they have worked on, this time on the Arizona, Boston, and Rotterdam silhouettes in an all-black collaboration. Owens’ branding is not outwardly visible, but dual branding are stamped on the insoles as with their previous collaborations.

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Not everyone gets to collaborate with Birkenstock, as the brand’s CEO Oliver Reichert has even rejected brands like Supreme and Vetements in 2018. As Birkenstock has always valued function and comfort over form and big brands, Reichert said working with the two brands was “just prostitution”.

Image via Juergen Teller For Birkenstock and Hypebeast
Image via Juergen Teller For Birkenstock and Hypebeast

Birkenstock certainly does not lose to Crocs as everyone’s new guilty pleasure for footwear, whether it is in terms of comfort or hype collaborations. It really depends on what wearers prefer in terms of material and colors, with Crocs sporting a larger range of colors including bright ones while Birkenstock tends to have more earth brown tones to match the cork-based soles. Really, just pick both.

Even Kanye West has made headlines for choosing the Birkenstock Boston over his usual YEEZYs and it looks pretty sick paired with blazers and trousers, so it is safe to say that they have become acceptable fashion. So whether you are a new fan through recent collaborations or looking for that new quarantine footwear that prioritizes comfort and convenience, Birkenstock is definitely a top choice and an everyman shoe.

Melanie is a contemporary art enthusiast, writer and cultural research strategist whose practice explores the areas inbetween art, design, commerce and the cult of collecting.