Last Halloween I dressed as Wonder Woman and wore my red Converse. I remember taking my kids trick or treating and immediately kicking off my shoes the moment we walked in the door. My feet and toes hurt so bad after spending just a few hours in my Converse. I was not going to let my shoe choice for Halloween cause foot discomfort again. This year I was going to plan my outfit around a pair of Birkenstocks.
I opted to reuse my costume from 2015. Only this year, I would be wearing a pair of red patent Gizehs, instead of Converse. The Gizehs would be the perfect modern day alternative to Wonder Woman’s traditional high heeled knee high boots. Afterall, what heroine can possibly fight crime in heels? Birkenstocks are a much more sensible choice for fighting the bad guys.
Birkenstocks take us places; to work, on a spontaneous hike, on weekend excursions, to the beach, on a long trip. Birkenstocks are with us when we are creating memories with family and friends. People who wear Birkenstocks generally become attached to their shoes. So, when our Birkenstocks start to show signs of wear, the thought of replacing them can become anxiety provoking.
Birkenstocks are highly durable and one pair can last several years. Imagine all the memories created over a decade of wearing one pair of Birkenstocks. In my blog, “Why Did You Stop Wearing Birkenstocks?”, I tell my story about my first pair. I had worn my Birkenstocks over the course of a decade, from high school through college and beyond. The memories while wearing these Birks were priceless. One day, I thought that the shoes were beyond repair. I did not have the heart to dispose of my Birkenstocks and left that task to my mother.
The internet was in its infancy when my Birkenstocks fell apart. I did not have the luxury of doing a simple Google search to learn that Birkenstocks are fully repairable. If I knew then what I know now, I would have NEVER disposed of my favorite shoes.
I had a friend give me a pair of Birkenstocks that she was no longer wearing. We happened to wear the same size and width. They were a pair of Granadas in Burgundy leather. I was thrilled at receiving her gift because Birkenstock is currently not making the Granada in Burgundy leather.
For those of you that know me, you know that I am a germo-phob. There was no way I could wear the gifted Birkenstocks without cleaning them first. I referred to my blog, “How to Care for your Birkenstocks” and followed the steps for cleaning the footbed. I cleaned the shoes twice, but the imprint of my friend’s foot was still on the footbed. This gave me the heebee geebees and I knew I would not wear the shoes until the impression was removed.
I turned to the internet to research my options. I found a great article, by Alex Ronan, about, “The Birkenstock Doctor” in the NY Times. I learned that Tom Lonergan, from iBirks, is an authorized Birkenstock repair person.
I confirmed his status as an authorized repair person from Birkenstock USA’s webpage. I also located a few cobblers locally from this same search engine. When I called the local cobblers to get a price quote, I felt that their customer service lacked, many were out of authentic Birkenstock footbeds, and the prices they quoted for recrafting were above the price listed at iBirks.
I contacted Tom via email and he responded within the hour. Tom confirmed that he had authentic Birkenstock footbeds and provided me with simple instructions on the process of sending in my shoes. Tom said that the shoes would be repaired within 2 days of receiving them. The price was in the ballpark of other mail order repair cobblers and his yelp reviews were stellar.
At the time I sent in my shoes, Tom was offering 20% of recrafting services. This included a new footbed, new soles, a pair of dura-heel inserts, free professional cork renew and leather conditioning of the uppers. Although the soles of my pre-loved Birkenstocks were not over worn, I decided to have them replaced because of the special that was being offered. I tend to wear down my Birkenstocks most quickly on the heels. Therefore, I wanted to test out the dura-heel because it is suppose to “add months of wear” to that area.
In addition to my issues associated with germs, I took into consideration the health of wearing a used pair of shoes. The footbed had already conformed to my friend’s feet and would not meet the needs of my feet. Once the dye is cast on a footbed it is permanent. It was important for me to have a new footbed and a new sole so that I could continue to remain asymptomatic in regards to back and foot discomfort.
With iBirks recrafting service, I had the choice of a regular or a soft footbed replacement. Although the original Granadas came with a soft footbed, I opted for the regular footbed. I prefer the harder footbed because they completely mold to my feet, provide more arch support, have a deeper heel cup, and offer more space on the footbed without the foam liner of a soft footbed.
Being able to customize the footbed to my preference was a real highlight for me. The only thing better would be able to make customized Birkenstocks. You know how Converse and Adidas offer customers the ability to create customized shoes? Imagine the possibilities if Birkenstock provided this feature to customers! I digress.
I had my recrafted Granadas waiting on my doorstep 8 days after I sent them to iBirks. The shoes traveled from California to Ohio (over a holiday weekend) and back in less than the time that it would have taken for me to get the shoes recrafted locally. I was delighted with the expediency of the process as well as the outcome of the workmanship.
Tom did an amazing job recrafting my pre-loved, pre-worn Birkenstock Granadas. I received a new Birkenstock original footbed (with the black imprint, not the old yellow imprint) that had a fresh application of cork renew. The new soles were perfectly attached to footbed. The old leather uppers were professionally conditioned. The recrafted Birkenstocks looked like a brand new pair of shoes.
I am completely satisfied with the recrafting experience. I was able to reuse, renew, and recycle an old pair of Birkenstocks. The cost of recrafting was a fraction of what it would have been to purchase a new pair of shoes. I was able to choose the type of footbed that I wanted and added the dura-heel which will extend the life of the soles. I essentially have a brand new pair of Birkenstock Granadas with an upper that has been discontinued by Birkenstock. In French, this would be considered “nouveau.” Meaning the Granadas are new to me, even though they are old.
I love my “Nouveau” Birkenstocks just as much as I love my brand spanking new Birkenstocks. My friend was amazed at how great her old pair of Granadas looked after the recrafting process.
Below is a video comparing the Birkenstocks before and after recrafting:
While I do not have another pair of Birkenstocks that need to be recrafted, I am already thinking about which of my older Birkenstocks might need to be resoled. It is important to resole your Birkenstocks before the cork is exposed. I think I have a ways to go before I wear down my soles that much. I will most definitely use iBirks again when it is time to resole an older pair of Birkenstocks. I am confident that the process will be equally satisfying.
I love all my Birkenstocks and never want to be in the position of having to ask someone to dispose of a worn out pair ever again.
TIP: Want more information about recrafting? If so, please refer to my most recent blog post on this topic by clicking here.
September 2018 NOTE: Since writing this blog, Tom at iBirks has sold his business to another cobbler in Colorado. I have not utilized the new owner's services, so I cannot vouch for this person's craftsmanship. If you want a recommendation for high quality Birkenstock recrafting, please read this blog here.
Hello, my name is Gina Mama and I am addicted to The Walking Dead. I remember the first time I watched the The Walking Dead (TWD). It was 2010, I was a new, sleep deprived mom when I was first introduced to Rick Grimes and company. I was up at all hours with a baby who was not sleeping through the night. One evening, my husband was flipping the channels and he landed on AMC. TWD was airing a repeat of Season 1, Episode 1 “Days Gone Bye”. As I tried to comfort a crying baby back to sleep, I began watching the show.
Normally I would pass out on the couch from exhaustion once the baby fell asleep. Yet, something different happened to me watching TWD. My baby fell asleep and I remained wide awake and fully engrossed in the show. With all the post baby hormones raging through my body, I experienced a range of emotions during the hour long broadcast. I was completely repulsed and totally intrigued by what I was watching. When the first episode ended I immediately wanted another hit of TWD.
It took only one show and I was addicted to TWD. I couldn’t stop watching it. Even with all the guts and gore, I looked forward to a new episode each week. TWD is an amazing story about humanity and survival during the zombie apocalypse.
Interestingly, Birkenstock shoes and TWD are similar in that people either love it or hate it. You don’t just wear Birkenstocks on occasion and don’t just randomly watch episodes of TWD. You either wear Birkenstock shoes or you don’t. You either binge watch TWD or you don’t. There is no middle ground for Birkenstock shoes and TWD. I happen to love them both.
As avid fans of TWD, my husband and I often discuss what items we would carry in our backpack during the zombie apocalypse. In 2004, I would have given you random answers based on what I learned from watching “Shaun of the Dead”. Twelve years later, thanks to TWD, I feel like a zombie eradicating expert and know exactly what I would stock in my backpack to survive.
In terms of clothing, I would have to dress in layers. That’s easy for me because I live in the Bay Area and am use to micro climates. I dress in layers every day. My husband jokingly asked me, “would you wear Birkenstocks during the apocalypse?” Without taking a breath, I exclaimed, “YES!”
I went on to explain that I would not wear Birkenstock sandals during the apocalypse, rather I would wear my Birkenstock Stowe boots. All the badass women on TWD wear boots. Take a look at the shoes worn by Carol, Maggie, and Michonne. All strong women, all sporting boots.
To survive an apocalypse you need shoes that cover your entire feet, that can carry you through various elements, and that allow you the mobility to run for your life. Most importantly, you need a shoe that you can walk miles in without experiencing foot discomfort. I can safely accomplish the aforementioned requirements in my Birkenstock Stowe boots.
Although it would be hard for me to part with my beloved Gizehs, Mayaris, and Arizonas, I would not take a chance with wearing open toe shoes during an apocalypse. It’s likely I could wear my Birkenstock sandals fighting vampires. Yet, when it comes to battling zombies I have to take my shoe selection to an entirely different level. Proper footwear is an essential aspect of survivalism that that cannot be overlooked. My feet need to be covered to prevent injury. Plus, the less skin that is exposed the better when fighting hungry zombies. Birkenstock Stowe boots provide ideal foot coverage and allow me the mobility needed to get around varied terrains and fluctuating climates safely, which is crucial to surviving the zombie apocalypse.
Birkenstock Stowe boots provide me just as much arch support as any Birkenstock sandal. I can wear the boots with or without socks, depending on the climate. Plus, just like all other Birkenstock brand shoes, the Stowes are highly durable. Durable shoes are a necessity because an apocalyptic event is not going to be for the short-term. With Birkenstock boots, I need not worry about the shoes falling apart on me as I battle against zombies or run from Negan.
Watch my video to see how Birkenstock Stowe boots handle various terrain:
A sturdy pair of Birkenstock boots is essential for surviving the zombie apocalypse. I recommend that you find a pair of Birkenstock boots now so that you have time to break them in before the apocalypse arrives. You don’t want sore feet or blisters as you fight for your life. I am already on the search for another pair of Birkenstock boots. I look forward to my next pair as much as I look forward to finding out who met "Lucille". (If you watch TWD, you know what I mean).
I Love The Walking Dead almost as much as I Love Birkenstocks.
NOTE: To read Gina Mama's thoughts on Birkenstock Shoes, please read this blog.
Did you know that Birkenstock makes some models in exquisite leather? I recently found this secret out and I had to try a pair. The exquisite leather sandals are often limited edition and tend to sell out quickly. That’s probably why I have never seen a pair in person.
What is exquisite leather? Birkenstock USA explains an exquisite leather Birkenstock is a handcrafted shoe that is completely covered in premium leather. Yes, you read that correctly, COMPLETELY wrapped in leather. There is no exposed cork. This means that even the footbed is encased by soft leather and the entire shoe is all one color. Birkenstock USA claims that this give the shoe a “sleek, upscale look”.
As a Birkenstock aficionado, I had a try a pair. My hope was to try a pair on in a brick and mortar store to determine if the shoe was worth the hefty price tag. Locating a pair of exquisite leather Birkenstocks was next to impossible since they sell out quickly. I checked at Nordstrom and a couple local shoe stores and could not find a pair.
The only way I was going to purchase an expensive pair of exquisite leather Birkenstocks online was through an authorized retailer. I went straight to Birkenstock USA to find an exquisite leather shoe. At the time, their online shoe collection had two models available in exquisite leather: the Gizeh and the Monterey.
The Gizeh was available in my size, the Monterey was only available in narrow width. Given the price tag, I decided to sleep on it overnight before making my purchase. The next day I decided to buy the Gizehs and they had sold out in my size overnight. Birkenstock USA still had the Monterey in a 38 Narrow. I have one pair of Birkenstocks in a narrow width, they are the Bellary model in smooth leather with a regular footbed. The reason I have this shoe in a narrow and not in a regular width is an entirely differently blog post. The Bellary fits my foot length wise and the leather stretched to fit the width of my foot. The arch is a little narrow for my liking, but the shoe is comfortable enough to wear on more dressy occasions.
I did not want to miss out on this special, limited edition shoe as I did with the Gizehs, so I purchased it. I figured since the smooth leather on the Bellary stretched to fit the width of my foot that the Monterey, in exquisite leather, may do the same. Moreover, the Monterey had a regular footbed which meant there would be a little more space for my foot than if this shoe came in a soft footbed.
I waited five long days for the shoes to arrive. I immediately opened the box to try them on when they were delivered. The Monterey was a gorgeous shoe. It is similar to the Arizona, yet with more elegant, rounded straps that are spaced slightly further apart. As described, the shoe was totally wrapped in exquisite leather. The shoes has a new car smell. The straps were smooth and the footbed looked luxurious. The shoe size and width were embedded on the footbed in a beautiful silver color.
With my fingers crossed, I placed my foot on the footbed and tightened the straps. I could feel the difference in the narrow width and I had not yet even take a step. There was ample room on the straps for maximum adjustability over my foot, but my little toe was rubbing against the leather. When I stood up and took a step, I could feel the narrowness of the width.
The Monterey shoe was minimalistic, yet elegant, and made my foot look more slender compared to my other Birkenstocks. However, the narrow width was just not comfortable for me. As much as I wanted to make these shoes work, I was not going to sacrifice peerless comfort for style. Afterall, I had been squishing my wide width feet into narrow shoes for decades and this has only created foot discomfort and back pain. Plus, with the price point of this shoe, I could not justify keeping them if they did not completely meet my needs.
I am often disappointed to learn that many of the Birkenstocks in women's sizes are only sold in narrow width within the United States. When one reviews the Birkenstock Collection online, one can easily learn that most styles are made in narrow and regular width. As I wrote in a previous blog, this issue makes my blood boil and the feminist in me roar with frustration. I understand that a “narrow” Birkenstock footbed accommodates both traditional narrow and medium width feet. But, my feet are wide and I require a regular footbed. I am not the only woman in the US that requires a regular width Birkenstock.
The narrow width of the shoe was the primary reason, but not the only reason that I chose not to keep the Montereys. Another major factor was that, from a distance, it looked like an EVA Birkenstock. Gasp! A $200+ exquisite leather Birkenstock certainly does not feel like an EVA with its premium leather and stellar arch support. But, to the naked eye and to a non Birkenstock wearer, it is easy to confuse the shiny, smooth leather with the shiny plastic of the EVA material.
Another reason that I decided to return this expensive shoe is because I could see glue at the seams. When I pay an exorbitant amount of money for an expensive shoe, I should not see remnants of the glue used to encase the product in leather. Quality control should have caught this.
Just like in baseball, three strikes and you are out.
Strike 1: narrow width only for women’s sizes
Strike 2: looked like EVA
Strike 3: visible glue at the seams
If Birkenstock USA offered the Monterey exquisite leather shoe in a regular width in the United States, I would give these shoes a second chance. My hope would be that future exquisite leather shoes do not have visible glue at the seams. I might also suggest that Birkenstock use a different color buckle on either the exquisite leather sandals or the EVAs, so it is easy to distinguish between the two from a distance.
I Love Birkenstocks and, much to my dismay, I did not love the limited edition exquisite leather sandals.
I’m a shoe girl. I always have been. Each time I buy a new pair of shoes, I am filled with excitement. When it comes to getting a new pair of Birkenstocks that thrill is magnified by 100. Finding a unique pair of Birkenstocks in my size is a challenge. Many of the new models sell out quickly and, in the US, certain Birkenstocks are only sold in narrow width, making some styles just as hard to come by as a collector car.
Some individuals might consider Birkenstocks the VW camper of shoes. Mostly because many people still associate Birkenstocks with the hippie generation. Plus, people might think it is fitting to describe a German made shoe with a German made car. I disagree. Birkenstocks are much more sleek, stylish, and luxurious than a VW bus.
There are many well engineered German made cars that are also luxurious. However, there is only one car that encompasses sleekness, style, and luxury. That car is the Ferrari. In my opinion, Birkenstocks are the Ferrari of shoes.
I am sure there are fashionistas out there who would argue otherwise. Some people might think that Manolo Blahniks or Louboutins deserve the “Ferrari of Shoes” title. I disagree because a pair of designer heels is not going to handle the every day twists and turns of life, like a comfy pair of Birkenstocks.
I challenge anyone who does not agree with me. It’s an easy competition. To determine the winner, all we have to do is to walk a mile in a pair heels and in a pair of Birkenstocks. How far can a human possibly walk in a pair of high heels without discomfort?
It would just be a few steps before I would want to toss the pair of heels in the donation bin and slip on a pair of Birkenstocks. Designer heels may be expertly crafted for style and appearance, yet they offer minimal foot support when compared to a Birkenstock.
Birkenstocks and Ferraris are crafted and engineered from the finest materials available. The Ferrari’s engine is the heart of the car, just as the Birkenstock footbed is the heart of its shoes. When I slip my foot into a well conformed Birkenstock, it feels as good as slipping into a handcrafted bucket seat of a Ferrari.
I recently ordered a pair of finely crafted Birkenstocks. I was filled with excitement when they arrived. I couldn’t wait for them to have that the custom-made feel like my other well loved Birks. I was eager to break them in and take my shoes out for a spin.
I realize that Birkenstocks require a break-in period. As a seasoned Birkenstock wearer, I was going to attempt to speed up that process by doing half of my normal elliptical work-out in the new Birkenstocks and then switch shoes. I often wear an older pair of Birkenstocks when exercising since athletic shoes do not provide me enough foot support. My hope was that as my foot warmed up during the work-out, that this warmth would help accelerate the softening of the footbed.
I was essentially trying to do a REVERSE “Ferris Bueller” with my new Birkenstocks. In the movie, “Ferris Bueller,” Ferris and two of his friends play hooky from school. They “borrow” a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder, owned by his friend’s dad, to get around for the day.
They leave the car with two parking attendants who take the Ferrari for a joy ride. At the end of the day, they pick up the car only to discover that the parking attendants added 100 miles to the car’s odometer. Ferris runs the Ferrari in reverse in hopes that the miles from the odometer would be removed. When this does not work, his friend gets upset and begins kicking the Ferrari, which forces it to roll off the jack. The car, which is still in reverse, flies out of the garage and crashes into the ravine below.
Ferris and his friends were attempting to make miles disappear from the odometer, as quickly as possible, by setting the car in reverse. I was doing the opposite of the this. By wearing my Birkenstocks on the elliptical, I was trying to rapidly break-in the footbed. I wanted to add miles to my shoes because the more miles you put on a pair of Birkenstocks, the more comfortable they become.
This experience was a teaching moment for me. Taking a new pair of Birkenstocks on an elliptical joy ride is as bad an idea as borrowing someone’s 1962 Ferrari for the day. By attempting to hasten the footbed break-in process, I created a blister on my foot. Fortunately, a blister is only a minor discomfort compared to totaling a collector car.
I would not recommend wearing a new pair of Birkenstocks on the elliptical. Just like breaking-in the engine of a new car, by driving it gently for the first several hundred miles, one needs to take his/her time to slowly break-in a new pair of Birkenstocks. It takes patience and time to get your Birkenstocks to feel custom made.
I guarantee you that a pair a designer high heels will never feel custom made. High heel shoes may look like a Ferrari on the outside, but on the inside, the arch support is not that of a Ferrari’s engine. The arch support of a high-heeled shoes would be more comparable to the engine of a Jaguar. A Jaguar’s engine is always in for maintenance and your feet are always going to be uncomfortable wearing high heels for long periods of time. Unlike high heels, Birkenstocks are designed with foot health in mind.
Dealing with an occasional blister when breaking-in a new pair of Birkenstocks is nothing compared to long-term aches and pains that may develop by prolonged use of high-heeled shoes.
I say, toss out your high heels and try on a pair of Birkenstocks. Wearing Birkenstocks is an awesome experience. Just like riding in a Ferrari. These days Birkenstocks have sleek, stylish, and luxurious designs for anyone’s taste. Though the initial break-in period may be a slow and bumpy road, I guarantee that once the shoe molds to your foot, you will never want to take them off.