July 31, 2021

Birkenstock, the very popular German sandal that walks towards luxury with LVMH

In 2019, the Birkenstock sandal sold 23.8 million pairs worldwide. (©DR)

What a strange alliance for the LVMH luxury group, giant of glamor and chic, which is associated with the brand Birkenstock, the famous cork sole sandal. Because the aesthetic line of the german shoe has often been mocked and shunned by the fashion world …

Mainly known for its basic line with its “Arizona” two-stripe sandal, the shoe is nevertheless a huge success. Very comfortable, perfect for staying in ” cocooning », It can be worn both at home and outside, with or without socks, and has experienced a peak in popularity since the beginning of the pandemic and his confinements.

A long heritage

It must be said that the sandal was first designed to fit the shape of the foot and respond to walking comfort with an orthopedic insole. In other words, 250 years ago, the “pretty” was not de rigueur for the German designer.

However, in 1774, the shoemaker Johann Adam Birkenstock Hammersbach put it right when he launched his product which was sold throughout Europe in 1925 and even made its debut in the United States in the mid-1960s. 70’s hippies that will make this sandal truly popular.

In 1774, the bootmaker Johann Adam Birkenstock Hammersbach created an orthopedic insole, still as comfortable 250 years later. (© Arno Burgi / dpa / picture-alliance / MaxPPP)

The 1990s and 2000s marked a change in perception. Now, celebrities wear sandals on their feet. In 2019, it sells for 23.8 million pairs across the planet.

It is this new clientele of high-end fashionistas that probably puts the ear to the CEO of LVMH. It does not take months for the brand with a long heritage to seduce Bernard Arnault.

$ 4 billion operation

In February 2021, the sandal borrows a new path to luxury. L Catterton, a private equity company co-founded by the LVMH group, announces its acquisition alongside the family holding company Financière Agache, a private investment company owned by Bernard Arnault which is also investing in the operation.

If Christian and Alex Birkenstock, descendants of the founder, retain a minority stake in the company, transaction values ​​Birkenstock at more than $ 4 billion.

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Birkenstock now sees other opportunities in the luxury market and is considering collaboration possibilities with other prestigious brands. As such, the brand has already collaborated with Valentino and parade on the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week. Under the leadership of its new owners, Birkenstock should continue to expand internationally to continue its growth in China and India.

The total barefoot look this summer

The new Birkenstock collection sets the tone with novelties worn by light and airy sneakers and more elegant sandals that illuminate the feet with their fresh and shiny hues. From the beach to the sofa, the “Arizona split”, “Gizeh” or “Mayari” series should be a hit this summer.

Caroline Canault