I Love Birkenstocks and I am deeply concerned about their recent quality control issues. Birkenstock has historically created shoes of the utmost quality and with the best natural materials possible. However, something has changed. It has been a year since I kept a pair of new Birkenstocks due to ongoing manufacturing defects. These days, when you order a pair of Birkenstocks, you never know what you're going to receive in terms of quality.
After reading various online comments, reviews on Birkenstock social media accounts, direct messages on my Instagram page, and posts from members of my private Facebook group, I realized that I am not the only one that thinks the quality of Birkenstock has tanked. Quality has been declining over the last several years. But, it feels like things have gotten exceedingly worse since Birkenstock "sold out" and devoted Birkenstock fans are not happy.
I first documented my issues with Birkenstock quality control and manufacturing defects in 2016, in the blog titled “Birkenstock Shearling Lined Shoes”. This blog explored the exposed glue on shearling-lined Birkenstocks. I could have reposted this exact same blog in the Fall/Winter of 2021 when I returned every pair of shearling-lined Bostons that I ordered due to exposed glue at the seams. I got so fed up with the process of returning and re-ordering that I swore to myself that I would never buy another pair of shearling-lined Birkenstocks again!!! (I ended up buying a pair of waterproof thermal Blundstones and could not be happier with my decision.)
I also talked about quality control problems in 2016, a second time, in the blog titled “Birkenstock Exquisite Leather”. This article highlighted problems with exposed glue at the seams on premium leather sandals.
In 2019, my article, “Houston, We Have a Problem” details my struggle finding a pair of blue exquisite leather Arizonas that did not have defects. I ordered SIX pairs of blue leather Big Buckle Arizonas before finding a pair that was acceptable to keep.
Apparently, I had much more patience for faulty Birkenstocks back then. Now, it’s a one and done thing. My Birkenstocks need to arrive perfect or I return them and move on. I don’t have time for this anymore. I have plenty of old school high-quality Birkenstocks from back in the day when they use to know how to make them. For now, I can spend my hard-earned money on other brands, at least until Birkenstock irons out its quality problems.
I think my patience has run out because the types of issues are escalating. It is no longer “just” glue drippings or crinkled leather, now I have been seeing problems with hardware and functionality. In June 2021, I paid $200 (pre tax) for a pair of “exclusive" Birkenstock Zebra Arizonas. These overpriced sandals were not even functional because the hook/latch was incorrectly placed and the strap could not even be buckled. And, of course, there was exposed glue along the ENTIRE length of the outside strap 🙄🙄. I posted a picture of these shoes, along with a video on my Instagram account. Here’s the link if you want to watch the video to see this hot mess for yourself:
Also in June 2021, I was shipped a pair of exquisite leather Big Buckle Gizehs from an authorized dealer and the leather was completely crinkled on the t-strap. These were brand new sandals that looked like they were bought second hand. The most frustrating part about this experience was that by the time I received my order and found the defect, the shoe had sold out in my size.
I absolutely adore the Birkenstocks in my collection that I purchased BEFORE Birkenstock “sold out”. Sadly, I have not been pleased with the quality of Birkenstocks that I have received for quite a long time. In fact, I took a break from adding to my collection for almost an entire year. The main reason that I have not posted a new blog is because I have had nothing positive to share.
During my Birkenstock break, I expanded my horizons and began exploring different brands. However, when I saw a sneak peek of the Fall/Winter 2022 release, I was quickly sucked in by the rich, vibrant colors being offered by Birkenstock. After a long Birkenstock dry spell, I went a bit crazy and ordered six pairs of Birkenstocks in one week. I know, I know……I fell off the wagon…… but I had to see/feel/try on these new Birkenstocks. I prayed that the quality had improved.
Unfortunately, two pairs arrived with misaligned soles and footbeds. It was like a size 37 EVA sole was placed on a size 38 footbed. The misalignment can be seen on my Beryl Arizonas and my Fuchsia Big Buckle Gizehs.
These Birkenstocks were ordered directly from Birkenstock USA. How did these sandals get past quality control? It’s hard to digest the recent Birkenstock price hike when I keep receiving defective shoes. Two pairs of shabby quality Birkenstocks in ONE WEEK was such a disappointment. It’s a pain in the butt to go through the return process, order a replacement pair, and receive a replacement pair that is also subpar, only to have to return those too. That’s why I swore off shearling lined Birkenstocks last winter and that’s why I will no longer order replacement pairs. My time is too valuable to deal with this anymore and the items just get returned.
Some people might think that I am overreacting with the misalignment showcased above. But, I don't think I am. Imagine if you went to the eye doctor and received a prescription that was just slightly off. Would you be ok spending a few hundred dollars on a pair of glasses with the wrong prescription? Probably not.
I am not the only one noticing the shabby shoes being shipped out by Birkenstock. Many people in my private group have posted pictures of the shoes that they have received with similar issues. Members of my private Facebook group and followers on Instagram have messaged me saying that they too recently received misaligned footbeds and soles on their newly purchased Birkenstocks. All different sizes and models then my examples pictures above. Hence, the problem is bigger than Birkenstock might like to admit.
One member of my group, who is a long time Birkenstock collector, recently received these Pecan Francas from an authorized retailer....
How these sandals made it out of the Birkenstock factory and halfway across the world -- unglued -- is incomprehensible. It’s quite an embarrassment if you ask me, especially at the price point of $145.
Birkenstocks have always been on the pricey side. But, back in the day, we were paying for high quality sandals. Now customers are paying more and getting inferior craftsmanship.
I think it is time for me to stop buying Birkenstocks again, at least until Birkenstock works out its quality kinks. Don't get me wrong, I love my Birkenstocks....just not the new ones. I am not willing to fork over $145-$160 plus tax (10% in California) for a pair of imperfect sandals. Birkenstock quality needs to match its price point. Otherwise, Birkenstock fans are going to start spending their money elsewhere...I know I have. The rumblings are already there, is Birkenstock going to listen?
I doubt it. Therefore, I have started a new hashtag on Instagram. Please post pictures of the Birkenstocks that you have received with quality control issues. Use the hashtag #dobetterbirkenstock and tag me @ilovebirkenstocks so I don’t miss your post. Let’s start a revolution and bring back the high quality Birkenstocks that we know and love from the good ol’ days. Who's with me?
UPDATE #1: I just posted this blog and created this hashtag and within a couple of hours, someone reported the haghtag to IG and content from the hashtag is not visible. Do what you wish with this information.
UPDATE #2: Less than 24 hours after posting this blog, I received a "brand new" pair of Birkenstock Big Buckle Gizehs from an authorized retailer -- they looked like this upon unboxing. I cannot make this up.