I may be taking a sabbatical from purchasing new Birkenstocks. With my recent experience of quality control issues and the lack of love for us regular width wearing customers, it should be no surprise that I am “disappointed”. Thankfully, I have an ample stock of ‘stocks, hidden in a vault, at an unspecified location. My supply won’t run dry until the Apocalypse hits and when the Apocalypse hits, my Doc Martens come out. But, this does not mean that I won't special order a pair from Michelangelo at Custom Made Birkenstocks.
I technically have a lifetime supply of Birks and don’t “need” another pair. Wanting another pair is a different story. Although I have hoards of Birkenstocks, there is one color missing from my collection. Ferrari Red.
When Birkenstock released the red Valentinos, I was drooling.
These Valentino Birks are the perfect shade red, but not the perfect price tag or the perfect width. After the Birkenstock quality control issues that I have experienced, I adamantly refused to fork over half a grand (after California taxes) for a pair of Birkenstocks that were only released in narrow width. Tsk Tsk Birkenstock for chubby foot shaming again! As if the powers that be are passive aggressively telling their most dedicated regular width wearing customers, that wider feet shall not be allowed to wear special collaboration Birks. Guess what, the reason that many people choose to wear Birkenstocks is because of the wider footbed! ARGH?!! Wide foot Birkenstock lovers want pretty, stylish sandals too. How many blogs do I have to write to reiterate this? Is no one listening?!
These narrow width only releases get my blood boiling. In fact, I was so fired up that these Valentino Birks were not available in a regular width, that I became anti-Valentino! Thus, I schemed a way to create the perfect pair of red Arizonas for myself. And, no, I was not going to paint another pair.
I wanted elegance. I wanted beauty. I wanted perfection. Cue Custom Made Birkenstocks.
I called Michelangelo, at Custom Made Birkenstocks, and asked him if he could make me a pair of Ferrari Red Arizonas. I knew his answer before he responded. He said, “Sure, I can do anything”.
I told Michelangelo my exact wishes. All red....rather....all Ferrari red Arizonas. Red leather uppers, red buckles, red leather lined footbed, and red soles. He immediately told me that Birkenstock would not sell him authentic red soling material. I agreed to settle for non Birkenstock soling material, so long as the soling material matched the leather uppers. Michelangelo ended up finding red soling material from Italy. This satisfied me, since all the best things, like Ferraris, (except Birkenstocks) come from Italy.
The entire process, from my initial call, to receiving the Arizonas took several weeks. I was in no rush, since I know all masterpieces take time. Do you know how long it took Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel? (Not the same Michelangelo of which I speak).
Michelangelo communicated with me during the entire operation. He called to clarify things and emailed me pictures with options and choices. I felt like I was thoroughly included in the decision making process of these Birkenstocks, every step of the way.
It was a very easy and comfortable process to have Michelangelo create the perfect pair for me. As you well know, I highly recommend Michelangelo, at Custom Made Birkenstocks, to anyone that seeks that “perfect” color Birkenstock. For those of you who desire a pair of mustard yellow or acid green Birkenstocks, or any other color or pattern for that matter, give Michelangelo a call at
When my Ferrari red Arizonas arrived at my house, they were in perfect condition. No quality control issues with this hand made masterpiece! And the best part of this made to order pair of Birkenstocks is that they have been monogrammed with my name!!! It is the small details that make these extra special. Thank you, Michelangelo!!
Who needs a pair of too narrow Valentinos when you can have a custom pair of “Michelangelos” that fit beautifully?
I was so excited and pleased with my red “Michelangelos” that when I called, to personally thank him, I ordered another custom pair!!
This time I went with Leopard print!! These are lightweight and extremely soft. These beauties are elevated to pure elegance with the black suede lined footbed and the gold buckles.
Now that I have two perfect custom made Birkenstocks in my arsenal, I may never have to buy another pair of Birkenstocks again. I have been spoiled. I like this made
to order Birkenstock option. It makes me feel a little like a Diva.
If you could order a custom pair of Birkenstocks, what color or pattern would you choose? What model would you select? Send me an email and let me know.
Be sure to check out Custom Made Birkenstocks newest leather acquisitions. There are so many amazing prints from which to choose. Go ahead, have Michelangelo make you a custom pair. I give you permission to spoil yourself. You deserve it.
It’s no secret that I have amassed quite a Birkenstock collection. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I have the oiled leather Big Buckle Arizonas and the Big Buckle Madrids in Cognac, Black, and Zinfandel. That’s right, six pairs. Don’t judge me. I wear them all with love, they bring me tons of joy, and the Big Buckles are probably some of my favorite Birks ever. Therefore, when Birkenstock released the new Blue Big Buckle Arizona, I immediately bought a pair.
I ordered the Blue Big Buckles from an authorized US retailer. Sadly, when they arrived, my expectations were far from being met. The pair that I received had one set of straps that was pre-crinkled, as if it had been used. That’s right, the straps on the left shoe were wrinkled and looked a shade lighter in color than the right shoe, which was in pristine condition.
These Arizonas sat in my house for a week before I packed them up to return. They never came out of the box after the initial unboxing, so I knew that I would never wear them. How could I be happy with one botched shoe? When I spend this much money on a pair of exquisite Birkenstocks (MSRP $150 plus tax), they need to be a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y perfect!!!
Since I am obsessed with Birkenstocks, I ordered another pair, from a different authorized US retailer. I hoped that the first pair was simply “missed” by Birkenstock’s Quality Control. But, when the second pair arrived they were actually WORSE than the first pair!!! Can you believe that?? WORSE!!!
What do I mean by “worse”? Well, the second pair had exposed glue on three separate areas of the sandal!! Take a look at these photos, if you don’t believe me:
The beauty of my blog is that I have connected with other Birkenstock connoisseurs all over the world. I expressed my disbelief about the quality issues to a few other Birkenstock collectors. I quickly came to learn that one other person had ordered three separate pairs of the same Blue Big Buckle Arizonas, from three different authorized US retailers, and every single one of her Arizonas were subpar!
The first pair that she received had one set of straps that was much tighter on one shoe than the other. This particular Birkenstock collector has more Birks than me (believe it or not), she's an expert. She knows how the straps can and should feel, right out of the box. The second pair had exposed glue on various parts of the sandal. With permission, I am sharing her photos:
The final pair, which actually came from Birkenstock USA, had a misaligned sole. That’s right, the sole was glued onto the footbed unevenly!! This is just hard to believe, but it is true, take a look at this imperfect Birkenstock:
If the two of us managed to receive FIVE pairs of Blue Big Buckle Birkenstocks with shoddy craftsmanship, all within a week’s time, I wonder how many other inferior pairs there are in the US and all across the world?! What is astounding is that this person wears a different size than me. Which means that the problem is not just a bad batch of size 38s. This issue carries overs in to other sizes of Birkenstocks as well.
Birkenstock, you have been making shoes for 245 years. You have made millions of pairs. You have an incredible track record of evenly and precisely gluing on the soles to the footbeds. Why are you not getting it right with the Blue Big Buckle Arizonas? Given your centuries of experience, how hard can it be to glue a sole to the most perfect footbed ever invented?! It’s not rocket science.
There is one more thing that I think is unsatisfactory about the Blue Big Buckle Arizona, besides the aforementioned quality problems. It might just be an issue for me, but, I am curious why Birkenstock selected a black leather footbed liner, instead of blue leather?! All of the other releases, in the oiled leather big buckle line (Cognac, Black, and Zinfandel), have matching uppers and leather footbed top liners. If Birkenstock is still manufacturing the big Blue Buckle Arizonas, perhaps they can consider swapping out the black leather liner with a matching blue leather. Maybe this tiny modification will cure the bad juju!!
The black leather foot liner is not a total deal breaker, but Birkenstock could have made this release more elegant with a matching blue leather liner. The only thing that could have made this a deal breaker for me is if these were finished off with a god awful white sole!
I have not decided if I will order a third pair of Blue Big Buckle Arizonas. Some say that the third time is a charm. But, after being so disappointed I am not inclined to place another order until Birkenstock’s quality control steps up their game. Unless, of course, Birkenstock decides to release these beauties in regular width. Then I would definitely try them again. But, I know from experience, that I probably should not hold my breath for a regular width release.
Is it just me? Is it just the Blue Big Buckles? Are you encountering similar quality control issues with the Birkenstocks that you have received? If so, send me a message and let me know.
Other issues with quality control that I have discussed on my blog pertain to the shiny metallic leathers. Have your metallics scratched or peeled? If so, please read this blog.
Read about my thoughts on white sole Birkenstocks here.
Want to learn more about narrow width Birkenstocks, then check out this post and this post
When I am out and about, I always notice when people are wearing Birkenstocks. I often joke that I can spot a Birkenstock a mile away. I live in Berkeley, so I see lots of people wearing Birks. In fact, if you are not wearing Birkenstocks when walking around Berkeley, people might look at you weirdly.
If you have ever visited Berkeley, then you know that weird things are a daily occurrence. Seeing naked people attend class at Cal or protestors sleeping in dead trees to prevent them from being cut down, is just another "normal" day in "Berzerkeley". I just roll my eyes and move along.
But, when I see people around town sporting Birkenstocks in all the wrong ways, it takes everything in my will power to not say something. Afterall, who is Gina Mama to make a suggestion about how one should wear his/her Birkenstocks?
I have seen a lot of crazy things living in the Bay Area. But, what really drives me nutso is when folks aren't wearing their Birkenstocks as they were designed to be worn.
Top 10 Birkenstock Mistakes that I have seen other people make:
10. Wearing the wrong size Birkenstocks. Either too small or too big. Need help finding the right size? Go to an authorized Birkenstock retailer to buy your first pair and get fitted correctly. This blog might help you.
9. Selecting the incorrect width. Usually this means that someone opts for a narrow width Birkenstock when they really need a regular width. How do you know a Birkenstock is too narrow? Well, "spillage" occurs over the edges of the footbed. Need more information about what I mean, check out my article that I wrote on this subject.
8. Straps are worn too tight. Straps should be loose enough that your feet are able to move freely while you walk. Check out this post that I created on how to properly adjust Birkenstock straps.
7. You don't give yourself enough time to break-in your Birkenstocks before you determine that they don't work for you. How do you properly break-in Birkenstocks? Easy, you follow the protocol that I created for you in this blog.
6. You get them wet and then lay them out in direct sunlight to dry. First, don't get them wet. Second, NEVER, EVER...EVER leave your Birkenstocks in the direct sunlight. Why? Read this to learn how to properly care for your Birkenstock footwear.
5. You wear the soles down all the way to the cork. Don't do this. Think of your soles as you would the tires on your car. When the tread shows too much wear, get them resoled. It doesn't cost too much and extends the life of your Birkenstocks. How and where do you get Birks resoled? Just call Michelangelo at Custom Made Birkenstocks, he does a fabulous job with resoling, repairs, and customization.
4. Authentic Birkenstocks are not purchased. You decide to save a few bucks and purchase look-alike Birks or knowingly buy fakes. Let me be the first to warn you not to do either. Why? Birkenstocks are worth every penny because over time they feel like custom made shoes.
3. You don't reseal the cork when it begins to look dry and then complain that your Birkenstocks only lasted a few months. A little TLC goes a long way when maintaining your Birks. Resealing the cork on your sandals is super easy, here is a blog that I wrote with steps on how and when do to this.
2. You wait too long to purchase the pair you really, REALLY wanted and then they sell out in your size. You need to remember that Birkenstock retires colors and styles fairly often. So, if you see a seasonal release that catches your eye, then you need to snag it while you have the chance. Otherwise, you will regret not doing so.
1. You wear socks with your Birkenstocks. (Just kidding, to each his/her own. I just personally wouldn't do it.)
As I stated before, I have seen lots of weird things walking around Berkeley. But, nothing is as odd as seeing someone wear socks with their Birkenstocks!!!!
What are some mistakes that you have seen other people make when it comes to Birkenstocks. Send me a message with your observations. I would love to hear from you.
I wrote this blog about a year ago and have waited to post it. To be honest, I was too embarrassed to divulge that Gina Mama received a counterfeit pair of Birkenstocks from a seller on Poshmark. However, I now realize that the information that I have to share is very important to my readers. I have nothing to be ashamed of since it was not my fault. I hope this blog will help you better distinguish authentic vs counterfeit Birkenstocks.
Last year, I had spent months scouring the internet to find a pair of Miramars to give as a gift to a friend. She desperately wanted a pair, but Birkenstock had sold out of her size. If you are a fan of Birkenstocks, you know that the black and cognac oiled leather Miramars sold out fast last year. And Birkenstock has since retired that style in those colors. So, when I found them on Poshmark, in her size, I snatched them. No second guessing on this purchase, they would be the perfect gift for my buddy.
I was so excited when they arrived. I rushed to the door to grab the box. As I leaned down to pick up the delivery, something was odd. The box reeked like toxic rubber. I wondered what the seller used to package the shipment. It smelled so bad that I did not even open the box inside, I took it straight to the backyard.
Upon opening the package, I spotted something that did not measure up to the listing. The blue Birkenstock box was smashed and the sticker on the box indicated that the Miramars were narrows. I did not order a narrow Miramar, I was fairly positive that I purchased regular width. I needed more data, so I continued my investigation.…
The Miramars were wrapped in stinky plastic. Birkenstock has never shipped me a pair of shoes in plastic wrap. Something was not adding up. Authentic Birkenstocks are always wrapped beautifully in custom Birkenstock tissue paper. Perhaps the seller lost the tissue paper and used plastic to prevent the buckles from scratching the leather during transit?
Then, as I unwrapped the sandals from the plastic, I quickly put two and two together. It was not the plastic wrap that created the odor, it was the “Miramars” that reeked!!! In fact, the plastic wrap smelled like roses and sunshine, compared to odor of the sandals. The seller shipped me FAKE BIRKENSTOCKS. The straps were rubber!!!
The straps were not only rubber, they were foul-smelling and thin. A non Birkenstock connoisseur could have been easily misled by these fakes because these were “good” fakes. Meaning they looked like a pair of Miramars….IF you have never seen an authentic pair of Birkenstocks in person!!
For a regular Birkenstock wearer, once you had these phony Miramars in your hand, you would know that there was nothing genuine about them!! Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. 100% fake!!! For those of us who wear Birkenstocks regularly, we know that Birkenstock straps are thick, durable, and made of the highest quality materials, not rubber. (Unless, of course, you order a pair Birkenstock EVA Essential sandals).
You might be asking yourself, Gina Mama, how did you know that they were knock offs? Well, the signs were as easy as pie to identify. Let’s take a gander at the fraudulent Birkenstocks and compare them to an authentic pair that I own.
1. They STINK!!!
2. The box has a fake sticker. The label says that the sandals are regular fit, but the picture shows a filled in foot, which, in the Birkenstock world, indicates a narrow footbed.
3. On the knock-off Miramars, the positioning of the foot symbol, the size, and the width are incorrect. Plus, the font, the color of the lettering, and the spacing are wrong as well. To top it off, the imprint of the wording is misaligned on the footbed. You can compare the differences here:
4. The EVA soles on the fake Birkenstocks look similar to my authentic pair, but the “Birk” imprint on the knock-off pair is larger in size compared to the authentic sole.
5. The forged big buckles look very much like the big buckles on the real pair of Miramars. But, the counterfeit buckle is too shiny and feels light and plasticy. The real giveaway here is the poor quality of the staples. The genuine pair of Birkenstocks uses high quality staples, the fake pair uses very flimsy and sharp metal, in the wrong color (the staple should match the buckle) to secure the buckle to the shoe.
6. I wish you could feel the fake Miramars. By touching these, one can easily determine that they are rubber vs touching the authentic pair that is made of thick, highly durable leather. Here are a few pictures, using a ruler, to illustrate the difference in the strap thickness. There is about 1mm difference in the thickness between the two pairs.
7. The counterfeit Miramars are very flimsy. The footbed of Birkenstocks are made with cork and should be sturdy. The footbed of an authentic Birkenstock should bend only a little bit. If you can bend the shoe from toe to heel, then it is a counterfeit. (This rule, of course, does not apply to Birkenstock EVA Essentital sandals).
8. The phony pair of Birkenstocks arrived with a plastic loop securing the Birkenstock card. Any Birkenstock wearer knows that Birkenstock never uses plastic to secure its tags to its shoes. Birkenstock is all about being environmentally friendly.
9. The weight of the authentic pair of Birkenstocks is less than the weight of the counterfeit pair. Just for fun, I used my scale to weigh each pair. The knock-off weighed an entire ounce more!
10. The logo on the sides of the knock-off pair is the wrong font, with incorrect spacing, and not evenly embedded on the shoe.
11. The most glaring piece of evidence that demonstrates that this is a counterfeit Miramar is the sizing translation. A Birkenstock size Euro 41 equates to a ladies 10 (L10) or a mens 8 (M8). The knock-off footbed simply reads L10.5. This screams “BOGUS BIRKS"!!!!
There are probably a few other tell tale signs that the Miramars from Poshmark are knock-offs. Can you find a few that I missed? I think that the eleven aforementioned points provide plenty of clues for you to better understand the difference between genuine and phony Birkenstocks.
Before I sent my complaint to Poshmark about receiving counterfeit Birkenstocks, I checked the seller’s listing. Do you think that the shoes pictured in the original listing were the same as the ones shipped to me? Negative. The seller must have used someone else’s photos for their listing and then mailed me the fakes.
I immediately requested a refund from Poshmark for the counterfeit Miramars. In fact, I requested a refund on the double!! But, in true Posh style, they took their sweet time reviewing my complaint. It took Posh nearly two weeks to review my complaint. In the end, they agreed that the Miramars were bogus and I was refunded my money.
Thank you Posh for the refund. However, I wish you had a speedier way to handle such situations, or even an 800 number for users to call to receive immediate assistance. The nice thing about eBay is that they have telephone assistance and their agents are actually really helpful (hint, hint).
I have not used Posh to buy or sell Birkenstocks since this experience. I did log on to Poshmark just the other day and noticed that there are tons of fake Birkenstocks on the app now. It is sad that the number of knock-offs has been growing steadily over the last few months. Buyers really need to be cautious and know what to look for when buying Birkenstocks secondhand.
If you need more tips and tricks for spotting bogus Birkenstocks, then I invite you to read my other blogs on this topic:
Shoes and purses are like wine and cheese. When paired correctly they are harmonious. When paired incorrectly there is total discord. Dissonance makes me anxious. Therefore, I must make certain that my purses compliment my Birkenstocks. By doing so, not only do I find harmony between my purse and shoe choice, I also pay my respects to the artistry of each pair of Birks. There is only one brand of handbags that can truly match the quality and flair of my beautiful Birkenstocks. That brand is Harveys California. Harveys makes the most incredible seatbelt handbags.
You read that correctly. Handbags made of SEATBELTS!!! Per their webpage, “It all started in a tiny garage with husband and wife, Dana & Melanie Harvey. While restoring their classic car, Dana came up with the idea to make Melanie a matching handbag with the leftover seatbelts. Everyone loved hers so much they decided to make more for you.”
Here is the Instagram TV video that I made to promote my blog. To illustrate the loveliness of these handbags.
The Harveys began creating, designing, and manufacturing their seatbelt handbags in Southern California in 1997. This was before the internet and social media. But, since I lived in Santa Barbara at the time, I had the good fortune to learn about these amazing bags early in their infancy, through word of mouth. However, since I was a college student, I did not have the funds to purchase a seatbelt bag for several years.
I drooled over these bags for over a decade before I finally “splurged”. Let me tell you, a Harveys Seatbelt Handbag is worth every single penny!! Like Birkenstocks, a Harveys bag is extremely durable, they are available in various styles and colors, and they can be repaired. Though I doubt that you will need to repair a Harveys bag, since they are nearly indestructible.
In fact, the Harveys slogan is that their bags are “guaranteed tough”. Additional features, as noted on the Harveys wiki page, is that these bags are “Durable, fade resistant automotive grade seatbelts and YKK zippers are sewn on industrial sewing machines (the kind used to sew horse saddles) with NASA grade nylon 69 thread.” It is hard to believe that such a durable bag is also vegan!! A Harveys bag will last a lifetime. You will probably only ever need to buy one.
But, what fun would that be?! Once you buy your first Harveys bag, you will soon want another. If you have been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you will have noticed that I occasionally post pictures of my Birkenstocks alongside one of my beautiful Harveys bags. Yes, I have more than one. How many do I have? Not enough!!
Sometimes I feel like I can never have enough Harveys bags. Like Birkenstocks, Harveys surprises customers with limited edition releases. Plus, they have a partnership with Disney and make the most adorable Disney themed seatbelt items. Harveys just released their first Disney Pixar Toy Story collection. This Harveys release was out of this world and in such high demand that customers trying to purchase these items literally crashed their webpage!
If you are not a Disney fan (who doesn’t love Disney though?), don’t fret, Harveys has got you covered with other, always changing, one of a kind designs. Birkenstocks don’t just make sandals and Harveys doesn’t just make handbags. Harveys also has other goodies. Like wallets, key chains, lanyards, dog collars and leashes, coin purses, as well as some other non-seatbelt accessories. Harveys is not just for women, they have a line of items for men too! Harveys has so many wonderful items and everything is made right here in California!!
I am a California girl, born and raised. And one of the things that I love the most about the Harveys brand is that their items are created, designed, and manufactured in California. Plus all of their materials are made in the USA. This is a double whammy of goodness, like champagne and strawberries. Every time I purchase a new Harveys bag, I feel like I am buying “locally” and am proud to support a small California business.
One of the most ingenious marketing tools that Harveys has implemented, is a stack of miniature business cards that come in every new bag. That’s right, Harveys tucks these darling little cards into every purse so that wearers can pass them out when others inquire about the bag. And, believe me, you will get compliments every single day that you wear a Harveys purse!! These unique bags are conversation starters. For example, I get asked questions about my seatbelt bags at the grocery store, at soccer games, walking my dog, on airplanes, even waiting in line in a public restroom!!
While I often get compliments on my Birkenstocks, I have never been complimented on a pair of sandals in a public restroom. Honestly, if I did, I’d be a little weirded out by it.
To some, pairing exquisite leather Birkenstocks with a seatbelt bag might seem a little weird. But, there is nothing better than a Harveys Seatbelt bag to match the uniqueness of my rare Birks. Just as Birkenstocks make different models of sandals to meet everyone’s needs, Harveys Seatbelt Handbags create various silhouettes to match everyone’s personality. In my humble opinion, the seatbelt bag actually helps elevate the elegance of my Birkenstocks. Plus, it is fun to mix and match various Harveys designs with styles of Birkenstocks.
You are most likely reading my blog because you are a Birkenstock wearer. Have I piqued your interest in the Harveys Seatbelt Handbags? Why not take a peek at their current line of bags and see if they have something that might match a pair of your Birkenstocks? Or better yet, if you are in Santa Ana, swing by their store. I stopped by last month, when I was in town, and had the good fortune of meeting Melanie Harvey!
Whether you stop by their store or visit their webpage, I bet you will be pleasantly surprised with their offerings. But, beware, like Birkenstocks, Harveys Seatbelt Bags can be mildly addictive.
So addictive in fact, that you might want to mesh your two worlds. What do I mean? Well…Harveys often asks their customers for suggestions for future ideas. I have officially submitted my request for Harveys to make a seatbelt bag with images of Birkenstock sandals. But, that has not happened yet. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to suggest that Birkenstock collaborate with Harveys and make a limited edition line of Birkenstocks with seatbelt uppers!! How about THAT idea???!!! Imagine the endless possibilities, designs, and colors.
What are your thoughts on Harveys Seatbelt Handbags? Do they play to your palate of style when it comes to matching your Birkenstocks? Do you find the pairing of a seatbelt bag and Birkenstocks to be as harmonious as I do? Send me a message and let me know. I would love to hear from you.
Want to learn how to acquire rare, unique Birkenstocks? Read this blog.
Not sure how to break-in your new Birkenstocks? Then check out this article.
Worried about counterfeit Birkenstocks? This post details ways to determine if your Birks are authentic.