Even among those who have enjoyed Birkenstock clogs and sandals for years, there is confusion over the difference between the Birki’s and Birkenstock brands. Some people think that “Birki” is simply an abbreviation of “Birkenstock” and the two names are interchangeable. Others fear that shoes sold under the Birkis brand are merely knock-off Birkenstocks of inferior quality made by unscrupulous manufacturers.
In fact, Birki’s and Birkenstock are separate companies with a common ancestry, sharing over 230 years of history making top-quality footwear. Birki’s was created in 1993 as a separate company led by Alex Birkenstock, a prominent member of Birkenstock’s founding family. His vision for the new company was to design fun, colorful footwear using Birkenstock’s famous footbeds, materials, designs and tradenames, while leaving the more traditional muted color palette and designs of the original Birkenstock with the parent company.
This model has turned out to be a resounding success! Birki’s and Birki-Kids clogs and sandals are now sold in 85 countries around the world.
One of the first things that people think of when they think about what makes Birkenstock shoes special is the company’s famous anatomically-molded cork-latex footbed. Thanks to a licensing agreement between the two companies, this exact same footbed serves as the foundation of many of Birki’s shoes as well, giving Birki cork-latex models the same standard of comfort, support and foot-health as the Birkenstocks they are based on.
Another key component shared between the two companies is Birkenstock’s Birko Flor material. This man-made fabric used in many of Birki’s uppers is as soft and durable as leather, while remaining easy to clean and maintain over the long average life of a Birki’s shoe. It also allows many models of Birki’s and Birki-Kids shoes to be certified vegan for those who prefer no animal products be used in making their shoes.
Even some shoe designs are the same between the two companies, right down to the trademarked model name. In some cases such as the Maria clog, the only difference will be that the Birki’s version will have a more colorful design on the upper; a pink paisley or floral pattern, for example. Some Birkis sandals and clogs even feature Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Tinkerbell, or Winnie the Pooh!
Quality is a top priority for both companies, and using the same materials and components helps ensure that Birki’s shoes are of the same quality as Birkenstock’s. But another major factor is both companies’ commitment to producing their shoes only in Germany, where they can exercise control over the whole manufacturing process from prototype to full-production. This commitment sets Birki’s apart from many of its competitors who have offshored manufacturing to Eastern Europe or Asia, often at the cost of solid quality control.
Savvy consumers know that they are wearing 230 years of quality Birkenstock craftsmanship every time they slip on their favorite Birki’s clogs or sandals. Why not make your next shoe purchase a pair of fun colorful Birki’s?
By J. Auman
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