Birkenstock Collaborates with the Dark Lord of Fashion

Rick Owens creates crunchy Birks.

One surefire way to generate fashion buzz right now? Find some unassuming footwear, ask a designer with scads of cultural cachet to “reinvent” it, then sit back and watch the Instagram likes roll in. On the surface, Rick Owens’s collaboration with Birkenstock is no different. What could be more edgily perverse than handing over an old-school orthopedic brand to an industrial goth provocateur? 

Except that the two are so spiritually aligned that it doesn’t feel like a stunt. Owens has always prized comfort and utility, even when his runway shows raise eyebrows. And the kicks in this collection aren’t intended to scandalize. Instead, Owens respectfully updated classic styles (tweaking details like straps and buckles, bringing in rich materials like calf leather, suede, and felt), then quietly stepped back. 


You end up with Birkenstocks that look...a lot like they always have, just with an aura of Rickness. “There is a modesty in the fact that Birkenstocks are never frivolous-looking,” Owens says. “They are kind of severe, which adds to their allure. I’m going to wear mine with cashmere jogging pants when I walk on the Adriatic beach in Venice this summer.” 


We’ll agree to disagree on that definition of "severe."

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