NCR: Never Say Never > The rise of the Birkenstock
Fashion trends are like family. In the way they both seem to have the motto “never say never”. Such is the case with Birkenstock shoes. Enjoying a renaissance of sorts this eponymous label has seen it’s fair share of knock offs from runway to reality. First seen at Celine, which is always ahead of the pack when it comes to setting new trends with Phoebe Philo at the helm, these earthy shoes made their runway debut in 2013. Now everyone from Giambatitsta Valli, Zara to Top Shop has offered the classic Arizona style of this shoe for Spring/Summer 2014.
Hailing from Germany as far back as 1744 I first came to know of Birkenstocks while I was 19 travelling around the world with an adventurous boyfriend. From New Zealand to Australia to South East Asia to India to Europe I noticed one kind of person was wearing these shoes: hippies. Not the Woodstock peace love and marijuana variety of hippie, which to me had an air of rock n’ roll cool, but more the ‘don’t panic it’s organic’ hairy legs, hairy arm pits and not a sketch of makeup variety. Right then and there I vowed never to wear these shoes: EVER.
And as often is the case with vows - I broke mine.
For about 5 years I’ve been secretly seeing my boyfriend, Birkenstock. Only stepping out with him while travelling or running errands or “out for a walk”. Much like secret love affairs, he wasn’t the one I was “seen” with but he was the one who has my heart. I have a brown pair and the classic black Arizona’s which are now very much in vogue. What happens in the world of trends that takes us from “never!" to "now!”? Well… for me … I grew up. I lost much of what I was shallow about (including worshipping at the alter of high heels) and surrendered to the God called comfort (whose last name could be ‘common sense’). Personally I’m glad my segue from Sigerson Morrison back to Birkenstocks happened later in life. I wouldn’t give up days of hustling in the world of fashion and nights of mischief making in sky high Prada’s and Manolos in London & New York for anything. These are some of the sweetest memories of my life… walking back to my flat in Manhattan at 4am with my girlfriends while the city still swelters from unbearable heat below our feet, wearing a slip dress, barely there sheer something in vintage and heels worth a month of rent. It was the kind of dreamy living that launched Sex and the City and dozens of other chick flicks!
As I’ve grown older and more (ahem!) practical, I love the idea of a uniform. Personally I have two and they are extreme opposites: tailored sportswear (think Phoebe Philo) with limited edition Nikes or Birkenstocks and Indian cotton dresses (think Sienna Miller). This is why the Arizona is enjoying a fashion moment. Once I erase the hippie visuals from my backpacking days and implement my love of great design, minimalism and comfort, what surfaces is the Arizona. When it comes to Birkenstocks the any luxury fashion or high street knock off basic black is the way to go. If you buy the original it’s very common to size down and go for the ‘N” fit for narrow as they fit large & wide (sounds appealing doesn’t it?). Keep it simple so you can wear with as many different outfits as possible. White is always a nice alternative for summer if you in a perpetually sunny climate. The comfort factor is unbeatable. But now that you have shoes that will last you years vs. a season, head over to the salon & get your toes painted all sorts of pretty! Other styles that get the Sima Says seal of approval are the Gizeh and the Madrid. And honestly, if its good enough for Grace (Coddington, pictured above) it’s good enough for me. ~ Sima
All photos: found via web.