Cork renew helps keep your Birkenstocks protected from the elements. Applying cork sealant to exposed cork on your shoes, helps to prevent them from drying out. Cork seal should be used when the cork on your Birks no longer looks shiny.
I have exclusively used Kelly’s Cork Renew on all my Birkenstocks. I have been very satisfied with their product. However, since Birkenstock makes their own cork sealer, I thought I would try it out. I had a pair of Birkenstocks with dull looking cork, so I decided to do a comparison. I would seal one shoe with Kelly’s Cork Renew and the other with Birkenstock Cork Sealer.
Kelly’s Cork Renew comes with a brush. It goes on evenly and can be used to get in between smaller areas of cork, when there are multiple straps. Kelly’s Cork Renew dries in about 10-15 minutes, leaving a high gloss shine.
Birkenstock Cork Sealer comes with a foam applicator. The foam applicator is wider than the area that I needed to reseal. Thus, it was hard to apply the sealer in between multiple straps and it did NOT go on evenly. I ended up removing the foam applicator and putting the sealer on to an old brush. The brush was the only way that I could avoid getting sealer on the uppers and the soles. The foam applicator soaked up the sealer and there was no way to return any of the unused portion into the bottle. The Birkenstock product took longer to dry compared to Kelly's Cork Renew, about 15-20 minutes. When the Birkenstock Cork Sealer dried, it resulted in a matte finish.
Here is a video that I made comparing the two products:
In my opinion, Kelly’s Cork Renew was the better product. It was easy to apply, dried quickly, and left a beautiful shine. I was so disappointed with the matte finish of the Birkenstock sealer that I ended up resealing the test shoe with Kelly’s Cork Renew. I wanted both shoes to have a matching shine.
Kelly’s Cork renew has the product down to a science. Birkenstock’s Cork Sealer is a clumsy product because you end up wasting a lot of sealer and it is messy to apply. I could only see using the Birkenstock sealer if one wanted a more matte finish on their cork. I prefer the shine offered by Kelly’s Cork Renew.
I usually re-apply cork sealant to my Birkenstocks once or twice a year. I live in a very mild climate and have several pairs of Birkenstocks in my shoe rotation. One would likely need to apply Kelly’s Cork Renew more often if one lived in areas exposed to extreme heat or if one wore the same pair on a daily basis. How often do you reseal your Birkenstocks? Which product do you prefer? Send me an email.
For more information on how to apply cork sealer, please refer to my previous blog, “How to Care For Your Birkenstocks”.
Fall is here and I am looking for a pair of closed toe walking shoes. I have a love/hate relationship with my "appropriate" athletic shoes and with the Birkenstock insoles that I sometimes place in those shoes. I am not a fan of wearing socks with ‘stocks, so I need to find a shoe that is totally enclosed. I have been known to wear my Bostons for walking in the cooler seasons. However, when I power walk, the Bostons slip around because there is no heel strap. Since I am such a fan of Birkenstock sandals, I thought I would give Birkenstock Shoes a chance.
Birkenstock has quite a few enclosed shoes in their current collection. Since many of these shoes are not carried in stores nearby, I have to purchase them online. From what I glean from the pictures online, they are not quite Gina Mama’s style. There is no way that I could possibly look attractive in any of the Birkenstock shoes. They lack style, are big and clunky, and they are as plain as plain can be.
Now, I realize that many non Birkenstock wearers feel the same way about Birkenstock sandals. But, coming from me, the creator of the “I Love Birkenstocks” blog, it says a lot. I absolutely adore Birkenstock sandals, but their attempt at sport shoes are simply an eye sore. Arran, Manitoba, Cincinnati, and Barrie — I am talking about you!!
I have had overwhelming requests to write a blog about Birkenstock Shoes. I have resisted for over a year to write a blog on this topic. Partly because I don’t own any Birkenstock Shoes and partly because I don’t want to write a negative blog. I like to keep my blogs positive. At first, I thought my blog would be about not even wanting to try them on because of how they look. But such a blog would not be fair to my readers.
It was time to think outside of the Birkenstock box. I was able to change my way of thinking about Birkenstock Shoes only after I wrote my blog “Bespoke Birkenstocks”. Instead of looking at the plain white Birkenstock shoes as a monstrosity, I looked at them as a blank canvas. I figured, if they were comfy, then I would customize my kicks. It worked for my Arizonas and it would do wonders for any Birkenstock Shoe.
My first encounter with Birkenstock Shoes was in August 2016. I tried the Arran in white. Those shoes were painfully stiff. The heel area of these Arrans were hard, like a rock. No flexibility whatsoever. I am well aware that Birkenstocks need to be broken-in, but my feet should not be throbbing before I even take a step.
When I toured Birkenstock USA last year, I was informed that the next generation of Arran shoes (the Arran II) would have a softer, more pliable heel area. I gave the Arran II a chance and the leather was definitely softer and it had a thinner and more flexible heel. However, the shoes still did not fit! 38 Regular was too small, and the 39 Regular was too long. In the 39s, the arch support was in the wrong spot for my foot. I did feel like the width was wider on the Arran II vs the original Arran. Perhaps this was because the leather was more supple and flexible than the previous version.
Since the Arrans did not work out for me, I ordered the Maintoba, Cincinnati, and Barrie. I almost did not try on the Manitoba when it arrived because they looked like old school nursing uniform shoes. I respect all you nurses out there. Believe me, I do. I know some amazing nurses. Thank you for doing the work that you do. And thank goodness nurses in 2017 wear much more stylish shoes to work, including closed toe Birks!
I had the same problem with the Manitoba as with the Arran. My normal size shoe did not fit and the next size up was too narrow and too long. The one thing that I did like about the Manitoba was the sole. It was a soft, cushy EVA sole that had a lot of give, like an athletic shoe. It would be good for walking — IF it fit.
The Cincinnati was similar to the Manitoba expect that it has mesh on the sides vs an all leather shoe. The navy blue Cincinnati was the most “normal” looking Birkenstock Shoe that I tried. If it fit, I would have customized it with Angelus Leather paint and wore them for my daily walks in the Fall and Winter.
The final shoe, the Barrie, was the best looking of the bunch. The Barrie was great because it was a slip-on and reminiscent of Vans. You all know that I am a California girl and Vans scream California. I was excited to try the Barrie.
Birkenstock USA kindly gave me a pair of Barries after my tour. They were my normal size. However, they proved too narrow for my foot and I gave them to my dear friend. We wear the same size Birkenstock, yet she has a narrow foot. They fit her perfectly and she loves them. I am envious that they fit her because they are cute shoes.
When I tried the Barrie last week, I did not even bother with the 38s because I knew that they would not fit. I ordered the 39 Regulars and, yet again, they were too long. The width was more acceptable on the 39s because of the elastic on the sides of the shoe. Yet, there was no way that I could wear the 39s comfortably because the shoe slipped up and down when I walked. The sole of the Barries are like the Arran, they are more firm like a sandal vs the Cincinnati and Manitobas that are more squishy.
If I had to use one word to describe my experience with Birkenstock Shoes, it would be: disappointing!! I had high hopes for finding a pair of Birkenstock sneakers that I could customize with Angelus leather paint. I wanted to find a new “go to” walking shoe for the Fall and Winter.
Unfortunately, once Birkenstock encloses their footbeds, their regular width Birkenstocks are no longer wide enough for my foot. I think Birkenstock Shoes might work for those of you with more narrow feet. But, for someone like myself that requires a wide width shoe, they are much too narrow. After trying 4 styles of Birkenstock Shoes, I gave up on the rest of the collection. I had no desire to try on other styles like the Iona, Islay, Lismore, Jenks, or Bartlett. What's the point? They are likely too narrow and I would have to waste time returning them.
Birkenstock Shoes come with a heafty price tag and there are just too many discomforts that prevent me from keeping a pair. If I could find a pair that felt slightly comfy when I tried them on, then I would be willing to break them in. In all honestly, I do not feel like they are worth my time or money. Instead of buying a pair of ill fitting Birkenstock Shoes, I plan to re-establish my relationship with my Birkenstock insoles in my “appropriate” athletic shoes.
The entire purpose of Birkenstock sandals is to allow your feet to sit in their natural position. This is not what I experience with Birkenstock Shoes. Once I slip my feet into a pair of Birkenstock shoes, I feel like they are constricted to the point of my feet feeling claustrophobic. I Love Birkenstocks….and I have yet to find a Birkenstock enclosed shoe to rave about.
What has your experience been like with Birkenstock Shoes? Should I keep trying until I find a pair that works? Message me your thoughts.
Labor Day weekend in the Bay Area was blistering. I am not talking about the type of blisters like you might get while you break-in Birkenstocks. I am talking about blistering heat. Something we rarely see in the Bay Area. In fact, temperatures in the Bay Area were record breaking.
It was so frickin' hot that we could not do anything. Heat warnings were in effect and the air quality was crappy from fires in Oregon and Central California. The temperature in our house reached 93 degrees. We don’t have Air Conditioning (A/C) because we simply don’t need it. Living around here, we have free A/C and we call it fog. However, over Labor Day weekend, the fog vanished and was a distant memory. We had to brave the heat. Bay Area natives, like myself, tend to be wimps when it comes to excessive heat. Without A/C, it was so stifling that we spent most of the weekend in our yard, under the umbrella, watching the kids play in the kiddie pool.
After two days of doing absolutely nothing but playing in water with the kids, I decided I needed to do something productive. I could feel my inner artist trying to break out and I decided to bust out a pair of Birkenstocks and start creating. I had purchased some Angelus leather paint a couple weeks ago and have been toying with the idea of using it to Bespoke a pair of Birkenstocks. Now was as good as time as any. I could watch the kids play in the pool and paint my Birks in 100+ degree heat.
I have been wanting a pair of Birkenstock Arizonas in metallic copper for a few years now. In the past, the Arizonas were only sold in the US in narrow width. Just recently US retailers began selling these particular Birks in regular width, but with white soles. However, after my experience with my gold metallic Birkenstocks peeling, I told myself that I would never again purchase another pair of shiny metallic Birks. And I meant it.
But that did not mean that I could not create my own pair. After experimenting with dyeing leather Birkenstocks, I began researching other techniques for designing Bespoke Birkenstocks. There seems to be an entire underground revolution for customizing kicks. I figured that I could utilize the products that these artists were using on my leather Birks.
The product that many of the artists were using was Angelus leather paint. When I went to Angelus’ webpage, I found that they had an entire section devoted to pearlescent and metallic paint. Angelus carried a pearlescent rose gold leather paint that looked incredibly similar to the metallic copper Birks that I have been drooling over for years.
A few weeks ago, I purchased a pair of $15 thrashed Birkenstocks on Poshmark with which I could experiment. I wanted to test Angelus’ leather paint on something that I had no attachment with before trying it on a pair of Birks that I cared about. The paint successfully adhered to the leather. No fading, no smudging, and no cracking. It was time to Bespoke my Birkenstocks!
Some of you might be wondering why I would bother with such a process. If you have not figured it out yet, I am a tad bit obsessed with Birkenstocks and have an inner artistic side. Why not utilize the artist in me and create a pair of Birkenstocks that I wanted? Plus, there was not much else I could do during the heat wave.
Since I could not purchase the color of Birkenstock Arizonas in my WIDTH, with brown soles, that would not scratch and peel, in the US, I was going to make them myself. I think Angelus’ Instagram account summarizes it best, “Create what you can’t have”. My customized Birkenstocks would include everything that I ever dreamed of:
I watched several YouTube Videos and followed the directions on the Angelus webpage to create a game plan for painting my Birkenstocks. I chose the lightest color of oiled leather uppers that I could find in my size. I went with the Tobacco color because they had the buckles that I wanted, along with the proper color soles.
Here is a list of items needed to Bespoke Birkenstocks:
2. Well ventilated work area
4. Painter’s tape or Masking Tape
5. Angelus Leather Preparer & Deglazer and a rag
6. Paint Brushes. One large, one small.
7. Angelus Flat White Coat
8. Angelus Leather Paint any color you choose
9. Be safe! Use gloves, a safety mask and goggles
Steps to Bespoke Birkenstocks:
1. Make sure that the leather uppers are clean
2. Use painter’s tape and/or masking tape to cover the entire footbed and sole
3. Apply Angelus Leather Preparer & Deglazer to a rag and start wiping. Per Angelus’
webpage, this step is essential because the deglazer will remove the factory finish,
thereby leaving a clean surface on which the Angelus Paint can adhere.
4. Allow the uppers to dry
5. Apply a primary coat of flat white paint to the leather before using the
Angelus leather paint of your choice. I tested an inconspicuous area under the
buckle to determine if I would apply a white base coat vs applying the rose gold
color directly to the leather. Below is a picture showing the difference:
Painting the rose gold directly onto the tobacco colored leather created a gold
effect. Painting the rose gold onto the flat white base coat created the color shown
in the bottle. This was exactly the color I wanted.
6. Use a wide brush and paint on a thin layer of your desired color. Use long, gentle
strokes when applying the paint. You will need to use a small brush to get the areas
around the buckles.
7. Allow each coat of paint to dry 5-10 minutes before painting on another coat. Apply
as many coats needed to get the color that you desire. It took me 4 coats to get the
exact rose gold color that I wanted.
About halfway through the painting project, my youngest kid decided to spray me with the garden hose. He also sprayed the Birkenstocks that I was painting in the process. I freaked a little because I thought that there would be water spots left on the paint and leather. Surprisingly, the water rolled off the uppers and no stains were left.
Angelus leather paint is top notch in terms on quality. The paint went on smooth and even. There was no evidence of brush strokes either. The paint dried within minutes, allowing me to apply multiple layers in a short amount of time. I completed the process in less than one hour. Using the leather paint was more time efficient and a heck of a lot less messy compared to dyeing leather. I set the shoes aside to dry for several hours indoors. By dinnertime, I was proudly wearing my pearlescent rose gold Birkenstocks.
After completing this project, I realized that one could do this on any color leather Birkenstock, provided one uses a white base coat. To be successful, one may need to paint multiple layers of the flat white paint onto darker leathers before applying one's desired color. Do you have an old pair of leather Birkenstocks in your closet that you have not been wearing? Why not pull them out and use Aneglus leather paint to give them a facelift? You can completely overhaul your old leather Birkenstocks, in any color that you desire, all for the price of $3.00.
I most certainly will be painting another pair of Birkenstocks in the future. I just hope it won’t be during another heatwave. There are so many color options available from Angelus that I cannot decide what color to choose. What color should I paint my next pair of Birkenstocks? What color would you select? Send me an email and let me know your thoughts.
If you have read any of my previous blogs, you might think my closet is filled solely with Birkenstocks. That is not the case. I have some Frye boots, a rainbow of Converse, and I always keep a pair of running shoes around. I love to walk. It’s my favorite form of exercise. I walk anywhere and everywhere.
For over 20 years, Sauconys were my shoe of choice for exercising. One of my college roommates got me hooked on this brand. I always bought the same size and model Saucony until one day that model was discontinued. I shed a tear that day.
Since then, finding another pair of perfectly fitting sneakers has been an uphill challenge. I have tried many different styles of Saucony and nothing has worked as well as my beloved Jazz model.
I felt that there were too many bells on whistles on the new fancy running shoes. In addition, they were either too narrow, created a discomfort here, or a pain there. I eventually gave up entirely on Saucony.
I tried other brands after I broke up with Saucony. Nothing worked. Tears turned into utter frustration. Whatever I tried left me with aches and pains in my joints or hurt the side of my feet because they were too narrow. Of course, I did not know these issues would arise until after taking them for a test run. Then it was too late to return them.
One day, I found a pair of New Balance 990 running shoes in a wide width and thought all my prayers were answered. They felt comfy and were wide enough for my feet. The only thing that I did not like was the color, but I could get over that because they would only be worn for exercising.
For the first several months of owning my New Balance shoes, I only wore them for short walks and on an elliptical machine. I found the width to be ideal and the arch support to be somewhat acceptable. On days when I felt like I needed extra support in the New Balance, I utilized my Birkenstock insoles. I have mixed feelings about Birkenstock insoles. Sometimes I like the support and other times I feel like inserts push my foot too far up in my shoe. I currently reside in the dislike phase with my insoles, so they have been removed from my shoes.
The day after I removed the insoles from my New Balance shoes, I had a chunk of time to myself and planned to take a long walk—alone. No kids. No dog. Just me. It was my time to put on the ear buds, crank up the tunes, and get some serious power walking in as I cleared my mind.
I had already taken the dog for her normal walk that morning and wore my Arizonas. When I walk during the summer months I find that I often get dried weeds or little pebbles in my Birkenstocks while walking. I spend a lot of time doing what I like to call "The Birkenstock Shake”. If you wear Birkenstocks, you know what I mean about "The Birkenstock Shake."
I did not want to waste precious “Gina Mama alone time” shaking out debris from my Birks. So I slipped on my running shoes. Since I would be power walking 5+ miles, I figured that it would be ideal to wear “appropriate” athletic shoes.
What a mistake that was! It was not a pleasant walk because I kept rearranging my foot in the shoe and re-lacing. It would have been better to stop a few times for "The Birkenstock Shake” then to wear the darn athletic shoes. I got three quarters of the way to my destination and turned around because my knees and ankles hurt. My feet were flopping around in my New Balance as I hiked up some seriously steep hills. My laces were either too tight or too loose. I could not adjust them to provide me the level of comfort that I required.
I knew that my shoes were the cause of these aches. I would have happily kept on trekking up if I had on a pair of Birkenstocks. If I pushed on in the New Balance, I was confident that the aches would only get worse. I still had to walk back to my starting point which was about 4 miles miles away. I wanted to prevent a serious injury and I decided to turn around.
Less than a half a block from where I turned around, I saw another woman power walking up this steep hill. She was jetting up the hill with a smile on her face and Birkenstocks on her feet. Yup, she was wearing a pair of Mayaris!
I sighed deeply and wished that I had worn my Mayaris on this walk.
Instead of walking faster downhill, my pace slowed. In addition to the aches and pains, I began to develop a blister on the ball of my foot. Despite the fact that I was wearing "appropriate" exercise socks with my "appropriate" athletic shoes, a blister had formed.
By the time I got back home, I was miserable. The walk was suppose to energize me, refresh my spirit, and make me calmer. But, it did not. My knees hurt, my ankles were sore, and I had a blister the size of quarter on the ball of my foot. All because I wore "appropriate" athletic shoes for an athletic activity.
My New Balance shoes work well to use on the elliptical and for short walks around the neighborhood. However, they clearly did not work for me when it came to a long uphill walk. I feel like my New Balance shoes did not support my foot anatomy and prevented my feet from moving in the way that they needed to move on this journey.
The extra padding and cushion of the New Balance shoes was not providing me the support that my feet required. Rather, the heel lift of the cushioned sole positioned my foot in such a way that it was out of alignment. Hence, the discomfort in my knees and ankles.
My feet have become accustomed to the amazing support provided by Birkenstock shoes. The deep heel cup, the arch support, the raised toe bar, and the wide toe box of all my Birkenstocks help keep my feet in their natural position. This proper alignment of my feet also helps prevent the aches and pains in my joints, like I experienced while wearing my athletic shoes. Moreover, the straps of my Birkenstocks are fully adjustable. Once I get them properly buckled, I do not have to readjust them. As opposed to the New Balance shoes that I was constantly retying on my walk. Finally, my well broken-in Birkenstocks have formed to the shape of my foot. This means that the footbed has been customized and thus helps prevent blisters.
Maybe I ought rekindle my love with Birkenstock insoles in order to use my New Balance shoes for athletic activities. For now, when it comes to long power walks, I will use my “unathletic” shoes….my Birkenstocks! I would much rather do "The Birkenstock Shake” throughout a walk then come home with aching joints and a blister. It is safe to say that I love Birkenstocks…for long uphill walks.
What is your shoe of choice for long walks? Send me a message and let me know your thoughts.
Thank you to everyone who sent me an email after reading my blog, “Shiny Metallic Leather.” It is comforting to know that I am not the only one who has experienced scratching and peeling with Birkenstock Metallic Leather shoes. Some of you have older pairs that are crumbling or foiling like mine, whereas others have just bought a new pair and are already noticing scratching simply with buckle adjustment.
Many of you wanted to know if Birkenstock got back to me with a solution for fixing the scratched metallic uppers. Nope. My original email to Birkenstock was sent on April 26, 2017. It has been over 3 months and I have not heard back. Some of you have reached out to Birkenstock as well with no response. I figured it was time to experiment.
I was not wearing my metallic Arizonas because, frankly, they looked like crap. You can only make a first impression once, so there was no way that I would wear peeling shoes in public. I had taken the time to gently break-in these shoes and now I was going to take the time to fix the uppers. After all, they have conformed to my feet and I was not willing to toss them out.
In my real job, I am a master problem solver of extremely complex situations. If I could juggle solving multiple issues at once, I figured that I could fix a darn pair of Birkenstocks. Since I was already not wearing the shoes, there would be no harm experimenting with them. What’s the worse that could happen?
I decided that I was going to dye the leather uppers. When dyeing leather, one must dye at least one shade darker then the original color. I was comfortable letting go of the gold uppers in lieu of my favorite color…red! I have been drooling over the recently released Tango Red Patent Arizonas. Sadly, they are only offered in narrow width in the US. I spent a lot of time researching these particular shoes and I finally located a pair of regular width ones outside of the US. However, if my experiment worked, then I would not have to fork over the cash for a new pair of shoes.
Here is a list of items needed to dye leather Birkenstocks:
Below are the steps that one must take to prepare the leather, dye the leather, and seal the dye:
Here is a video I made demonstrating the process of dyeing leather Birkenstocks:
I am thrilled with how these Birkenstocks turned out. The way that I sanded the leather and dabbed on Acetone to remove the metallic finish left my dyed shoes with lovely undertones. It reminds me of how my oiled leather Birkenstocks begin to look over time. The Resolene sealed the dye and left a beautiful shine to the leather. I have been wearing these dyed Birkenstocks for about one month and have had no issues with peeling, chipping, or cracking.
Who needs Tango Red Patent Leather Arizonas now? Not me!
I am no longer embarrassed to wear peeling metallic leather Birkenstocks. Now, I proudly wear my dyed red Birkenstocks. Best part of all, it is like having new shoes that are already broken-in.
Birkenstock blogger since 2016.