Birkenstock’s partnership with London fashion institution Central Saint Martins is launching the result of a two-year project with the BA Fashion History & Theory and MA Fashion courses. Releasing four designs and Birkenstock’s first-ever Archive style. Initiated in 2018, the project saw the CSM BA Fashion History & Theory course research and enrich Birkenstock’s prolific archive. Enabling students to immerse into Birkenstock’s culture and legacy to finally extract and define the core elements of Birkenstock’s history spanning over 250 years. The result of this research translated into a second project with the MA Fashion course. Inviting students to give their interpretation of emblematic styles in their contemporary way, thus shaping the future of the iconic German brand.
The four winning students with Fabio Piras.
One year later a jury of 12 renowned industry leaders led by Birkenstock CEO Oliver Reichert, MA Fashion Course Director Fabio Piras and fashion critic Sarah Mower MBE, were invited by Birkenstock to review all student portfolios and selected a shortlist of 10 finalists awarded as the winning designs with a first bursary award.
My favorites: Moto Sandal by Alex Wolfe.
Over a year of product development, four of the student designs have qualified for serial production. Each design has the student’s name embossed in the iconic Birkenstock footbed. Experiencing the challenge to realize the product innovation delivered by these students is a good challenge. «We are proud to have a proven impact on these early careers and are counting this as one of our most relevant projects», states CEO Oliver Reichert.
Bukarest style in white by Alecsander Rothschild
The release of the collection is supported by a short film, seeing the jury and the professors exchange their views on the final product with the students. The jury was headed by Sarah Mower MBE and included CSM alumni Mary Katrantzou and Roksanda discussing with Gert Jonkers, Claudia Croft, Mimma Viglezio, Osman Ahmed, and Nick Vinson.
Moto Sandal by CSM graduate Alex Wolfe (1991*)
Using Birkenstock’s expertise in orthopaedic shoe design Wolfe’s take on the Rotterdam Moto sandal challenges us with urban graphic as well as a striking upper leg design. Relying on Birkenstock’s very own eudermic material Birko-Flor he creates a flexible shield, whereas the foot lining of Nappa leather and suede offers a soft and soothing bed.
Cosy style by CSM graduate Dingyun Zhang (1995*)
Zhang’s pillow like version of the Arizona sandal takes inspiration from futuristic outerwear and oversized puffers. As a homage to comfort Cosy transforms the Arizona into a supportive, timeless classic. Its monochrome, contrasting color choice of snow white straps and black sole (and vice versa) fortifies the long-lasting design approach.
Terra style by CSM graduate Saskia Lenaerts (1993*)
As a reference to the classic Milano sandal, Terra’s prominent stitches replicates footlines, while Suede, Nappa and Nubuk leather offer comfort. Using contrasting colours like black/white and black/ultra blue the designer recreates the shadow play of an engraved footprint in the sand.
Bukarest style by CSM student Alecsander Rothschild (1992*)
Inspired by Brancusi’s contrasting use of different materials and textures Rothschild works equally with three kinds of leather to express his version of Birkenstock: Rustic black oiled nubuck leather or innocent white debossed leather, Rothschild offers a third version in shiny Silver.
Tallahassee Archive Style
To complement the student designs, the iconic Birkenstock Tallahassee Style from the 1990s sees a rebirth in contrast color designs. Uniting an artistic touch with long practiced craftsmanship the Tallahassee ornaments the foot without compromising comfort. As a woven coat the debossed leather enrobes the wearer like a second skin.
The collection is available with select stores worldwide and on 1774.com from now.
Photos: Courtesy of Birkenstock, © Walter Pfeiffer