Sep 14, 2023 - Economy & Business

Birkenstock says feminism will boost sales for the long term

Illustration of the painting The Birth of Venus by Botticelli with a Birkenstock sandal in place of Venus

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Flat shoes can still lift you up.

To wit: Iconic comfy-shoe maker Birkenstock cites "modern feminism" as a driver of growth in its filing to go public.

  • "The ongoing evolution and expansion of the role of women in society" is driving "meaningful shifts" in footwear preferences, the company says.
  • "While trends in fashion come and go, we believe women's increasing preference for functional apparel and footwear has and will prove secular in nature."

Why it matters: Women don't want to cram their feet into painful high heels, thanks to feminism, yes — but also thanks to the push toward casual dress that was accelerated in the pandemic.

  • Cork-soled Birks are legendary for their coziness. (Your newsletter writer is on her fifth pair.)

For example: Margot Robbie's "Barbie." In the blockbuster movie (spoiler alert coming), a pair of Birks — pink Arizona sandals — play a pivotal role in symbolizing Barbie's evolution from a plastic doll with high-heel-shaped feet to a self-actualized woman with her feet on the ground.

  • Sales got a boost from that one, as Axios' Kimberly Chin reports.

The big picture: Once derided as the footwear of "do-gooder" liberals and unwashed hippies, Birkenstocks have been riding a wave of popularity for the past few years — especially as the company leaned more into fashion trends and teamed up with some popular designers.

  • French billionaire Bernard Arnault — CEO of LVMH, a luxury goods company not known for selling goods of sturdy practicality — acquired a majority stake in Birkenstock in 2021.

💭 Emily's thought bubble: I'm all for feminism and flat shoes, but it's still not OK to wear Birks with socks. Sorry.

Go deeper: Birkenstock files for IPO

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