Forget everything you thought you knew about Birkenstocks, because they're officially cool now, according to Vogue. Chioma Nnadi, writing for Vogue Daily, asked a couple of the magazine's writers what they thought of the hippie-beloved sandals. They all admitted to wearing them and even suggested that, if you wore them out in public, you wouldn't be branded as a tree-hugging, burlap- trouser-wearing, organic-arugula-eating crunchie. "It’s like the most comfortable sandal in the world is having a stylish renaissance,” Vogue.com contributor Katherine Bernard told Nnadi. Nnadi went on to write:
With its squishy cork footbed, roomy toe box, and thick buckled straps, the sturdy, sensible sole has been embraced by others besides Bernard. In fact, fashion editors in these very hallways have been bringing their secret love of the jolie-laide shoe into the light of day.
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One editor called the shoes' underdressed quality "sexy." Another argues that bulky shoes are actually kind of flattering. And it's not just Vogue that's had a change of heart, either. The Birkenstock's transition from hippie staple to eco-chic it shoe has been years in the making. Back in 2010, Guy Trebay of The New York Times's Style section tried to convince fashionable men that the strappy sandals were actually, and had been for a while:
First they started showing up on the guys you see shopping for green-tea ice cream and mochi at the Sunrise Mart in the East Village. Then occupationally chic fellows like David Rees and Ron Anderson, the designers of Ten Thousand Things, the minimalist jewelry shop in the meatpacking district, picked up the cue and started accessorizing their skinny khakis and classic button-down shirts with Birkenstocks. Next, Dean and Dan Caten, the twins who design Dsquared2, riffed outrageously on the Birkenstock in a Milan men’s wear show whose theme was glamour camping, or “glamping.” And now ... well, now Birkenstocks are everywhere.
That's all well and good, but what Birkenstocks needed was a good high-fashion makeover. Last winter, Phoebe Philo debuted a pair of furry, jewel encrusted Birkenstock-style sandals at Celine's Spring/Summer 2013 runway show. At first glance, the shoes look like a small woodland creature crawled into a bedazzled Birkenstock and died of sadness. But they're actually not that bad. Here's Miley Cyrus looking more than passable in them, which is good, since they cost her $900. And, here are Anne Hathaway and Ashley Olson in more traditional version of the sandals.
So this may be a Birckenstock moment. Glamour is calling them the shoe of the summer. The Cut and L'Officiel included the sandals in outfit of the week posts. At this point, if you aren't wearing Birkenstocks at this very minutes, it's almost as bad as if you'd been wearing them a few years ago. Don't say fashion is fickle — we know, we know. Suck it up, get a pair and just remember to keep it classy. As the gals at Vogue put it:
Whatever the shape, the rules for wearing them in a stylish way right now apply across the board. “It can’t look like you’ve had them for years like in the old days; otherwise it reads hippie,” says [Vogue.com contributor Jane Herman] Bishop. “A fresh pedicure is a must.” She suggests metallic leather or polished patent styles over the traditional beige suede for a more elevated feel. And it helps to counterpoint the look with a tailored pant, or ladylike dress.
So good luck on creating an "elevated feel" with casual, cork soled sandals. Meanwhile, we'll be keeping a look out for the return of bell bottoms.
(Photo credit: Shuttershock.)