In the early 1990s I was a teenager and begged my mom to buy me a pair of Birkenstocks. They had become stylish again and were everywhere. My parents, non hippies, who grew up in the 60s in Berkeley, did not understand why I would want hippie shoes in my wardrobe. After some nagging, my mom finally gave into my request. Perhaps she wanted to see me wear something besides my Doc Martens.
I vividly remember the day she drove me up to Houston's Shoes in Berkeley for my big purchase. Houston's was a large shoe store on Shattuck Ave. with a magnificent window display. I stood outside the store peering at the selection of Birkenstocks. Back in the 90s, there were slim pickings of styles and colors offered. I really only remember having the choice of the Arizona style in neutral colors like brown, taupe, and black. As I scanned the selection, I eyeballed a lovely grey pair and knew that those babies were coming home with me.
The sales person at Houston's properly measured my foot. 38 regular. They fit like a glove. I wore the shoes home from the store. I felt so special.
I remember the price of these shoes were $80. Which, at the time, seemed like an outrageous sum of money to spend on a teenager. Let me tell you, those were the best pair of shoes I ever owned. The footbed provided me with incredible support and I could wear them with anything. It took me a decade before these shoes wore out and that was with heavy wear and tear. That averages $8/year for the investment. Best shoes ever.
You might be asking why I didn't replace the shoes after they fell apart. Honestly, I don't remember. I was in my 20s, entering the workforce, and started to wear what was work appropriate. In my 20s and 30s I wore more "feminine" shoes. At the time they looked cute. After two decades of cramming my wide feet into narrow shoes with no arch support, I started having arthritic pain in feet and sciatic pain. Proof that these "cute" and "feminine" shoes only caused health problems.
I tried a number of different brands of shoes to help relieve the pain in my feet and back. Nothing worked. Then one day I saw an add for Birkentocks on Zappos. I thought, why don't I order a pair and try those again. They were the best shoes I ever wore. In July 2015, I ordered a pair of red nubuck Arizonas with a soft footbed and my love with Birkenstock shoes was rekindled. I was amazed at the variety of styles, colors, footbeds, and materials that Birkenstock offered 25 years after my first purchase. Once I started wearing my new Birks, the pain in my feet and back improved. Amazing. I Love Birkenstocks!