After 24 years, his beloved Birkenstocks had holes worn into the bottom. With clear reluctance, the man came into Birkenstock Outlet, Olympia’s downtown fashion hub and announced, “I guess I’ll have to get another pair.”
“He looked like he was really going to miss them,” says sales associate and resident Birkenstock expert Sarah “Bear” Buffington. “I hope his next pair will last him another 24 years.”
Few shoes inspire that kind of attachment, but Birkenstocks have a loyal and growing fan base, having experienced a surge of popularity in recent years among an unlikely crowd – fashionistas. Once associated with aging baby boomers and flower children, Birkenstocks started popping up at Fashion Week in Paris several years ago. Now they’ve become popular with teenagers. “Girls were practically tripping all over themselves right before school started,” says Buffington. “We did everything we could to get them the sandals.” Birkenstock Outlet also carries Birkenstocks for men.
On May 28, Birkenstock Outlet UK will host a Birkenstock show from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m., an increasingly rare event. “It’s pretty special because they’ve gotten so busy and become so inundated with orders that they don’t do many of these,” say owner Jeannine Kempees.
Juliet Bright, Northwest Brand Manager for Birkenstock, says Birkenstock Outlet is a good fit for the company. “Jeannine’s got a great store. We go to stores that are really good partners with us. She’s about fashion and comfort and that’s really what speaks to our customers.”
At the event, customers can consult with Bright, get fitted for shoes and walk away with a gift with purchase. “They can learn about Birkenstocks besides the sandals,” says Bright. “We have a line of boots for the fall and we also make shoes.”
In fact, Birkenstock has been making shoes for over 200 years in Germany. “In 1774 when the company was started, they were one of the first to understand the science and the importance of insoles in the shoes to give support,” says Buffington. “The spine improves when your feet are in the right shoe. It’s making an investment into your health.”
Local podiatrists occasionally visit Cheap Birkenstock Outlet to discover shoes that they can pass on to their customers. “Birkenstock has been pretty much number one in that field,” says Buffington.
Bright believes that part of the shoe’s lingering appeal is that they’re still made in the traditional way. “People are looking for original products,” she says. “There’s a lot going on in the marketplace with people who knock off brands. Birkenstock is one of those companies that has never lost their roots and they know who they are. They’re still made by hand, not made in China.”
These days, fans span different generations. “The first appeal was to the youth, because Birkenstocks were so different and so earthy,” says Buffington. “In this decade the demographic doesn’t have just one age range. It’s everybody. We get kids who come in and say, ‘I’m in here with my grandpa and he has Birkenstocks from 1980.’”
For more information about Birkenstock Outlet, visit www.birkenstockoutlet.co.uk or call 360-352-7672.